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From the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.

The Idiot

Iggy Pop

1977

The Idiot
Album Summary

The Idiot is the debut studio album by American musician Iggy Pop, released on March 18, 1977, through RCA Records. After the break-up of his band the Stooges in 1974, Pop struggled with drug addiction. Although attempts to get sober proved unsuccessful, by 1976, he was ready to end his addiction. Pop accepted an invitation to accompany his friend David Bowie on his Isolar Tour. At the end of the tour, Pop agreed to join Bowie, also struggling with drug addiction, in moving to Europe to rid themselves of their addictions. The two settled into the Château d'Hérouville in Hérouville, where Bowie agreed to produce an album for Pop. Described by Pop as "a cross between James Brown and Kraftwerk", The Idiot marks a departure from the proto-punk of the Stooges to a more subdued, mechanical sound with electronic overtones. Recording for it began at the château in June 1976 and continued into July. Further sessions took place at Musicland Studios in Munich in August. Bowie composed most of the music and contributed a major portion of the instrumentation. Pop wrote most of the lyrics in response to the music Bowie was creating. The album's title was taken from Fyodor Dostoevsky's novel of the same name, while Erich Heckel's painting Roquairol inspired its artwork. After the album was completed, Bowie began recording his next album Low, which features a sound similar to The Idiot. Low was released in January 1977 and was a commercial success, compelling RCA Records to release The Idiot two months later. Upon its release, the album received divided, albeit largely positive reviews from music critics, with many noting a change in musical tone from his earlier work, which received mixed responses. It charted in the US, the UK, and Australia. It was accompanied by the release of two singles, "Sister Midnight" and "China Girl", in February and May 1977, respectively; Bowie later issued his own version of "China Girl" as a single in 1983. Pop supported The Idiot with a tour in March and April 1977, with Bowie as his keyboardist. Afterwards, the two collaborated again on Pop's second studio album, Lust for Life (1977). Retrospectively, The Idiot has continued to be received positively, with many noting Pop's artistic evolution. However, because Bowie largely created it, fans do not generally consider the album as being representative of Pop's output. It has influenced post-punk, industrial, and gothic acts, including Joy Division.

Wikipedia

Rating

3.22

Votes

10361
Genres
Rock
Punk
Post Punk

Reviews

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Wed Feb 10 2021
5

Wonderful collab between Iggy Pop and David Bowie. Borrowing from some of the best artistic elements of the day to create a sum greater than its parts. Drum sounds borrowed from Joy Division, punk vocals and sensibilities through Iggy, Cold War imagery in the lyrics. This record is simultaneously structured and loose, wild and buttoned up, analog and digital. The sounds jump of the record. Incredibly vital.

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Fri Mar 17 2023
1

This is the music that plays in those scungy record shops where the guy working there looks like he’s never heard of a bath and none of the albums in there were released after the 70s

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Mon Nov 23 2020
5

Debauched post punk with a nocturnal vibe and lyrics spilling from the artist's subconscious. Although David Bowie gives it both an accessibility and richness it likely wouldn't otherwise have had, Iggy Pop truly gives the record its raw punk energy.

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Tue Nov 16 2021
5

One of my absolute favorite albums ever. Loose, cool and experimental is what Iggy Pop and David Bowie managed to make this album. Iggy's lines delivered with a punk-ish attitude surrounded by pulsating synths and distorted instruments make everything feel intense and wicked. Absolutely amazing

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Fri Jun 24 2022
5

this is what happens when you mix Bowie, Iggy, Berlin and no heroin. Stay off drugs kids

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Sun Sep 13 2020
5

Bowie and Pop are a powerful duo.

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Wed Feb 10 2021
5

I'm into it. It's basically just a David Bowie album I haven't heard.

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Tue Oct 05 2021
5

Another album I’m not sure if I’ve ever listened through in full. But what a blinder! Track after track of cool as fuck raw rock. Loved it!

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Thu Nov 25 2021
5

This album is a testament to the symbiotic relationship that Iggy Pop and David Bowie had in the mid-70s. Both were lost musically and mentally, the collaboration on this album had them bring out the best in each other while surviving the worst. It is argued that this is primarily a David Bowie album but I would disagree as Pop's influence over Bowie stands out in the rawness of much of this record. The dark keyboard and drum sequencing of Nightclubbing would have sounded cleaner without Iggys suggestions and wouldn't have had the impact on so many post punk and new wave artists that heard this album. It is a shame in some was that Iggy moved away from this type of sound later on

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Tue Apr 27 2021
1

Impressive to make an album that I like nothing about. Not the music. Not the vibe. Not the vocals. Nothing.

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Sat Feb 19 2022
5

Huge iggy pop fan in general. But I really enjoy The Idiot. The Bowie production is felt very deeply. And I think this album itself really shaped Post-Punk into what it became. Iggy is all over Rock. Proto-punk with the stooges and this one. Dude just makes some really solid music.

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Wed Apr 28 2021
4

How have I not heard this before? I loved Lust for Life, but this one had passed me by and it's great. Sister Midnight and Funtime ought to be mainstream rock classics. I guess Iggy just was too far out there to get the mainstream attention he deserves. Jane said 'you can hear Bowie all over this" and she was right, it's almost a Bowie album.

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Fri Jun 04 2021
5

I really don’t know why I hadn’t listen to this before considering Bowie produced this during my favorite period of his. Loved it.

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Wed Oct 06 2021
5

Spooky, which fits well for spooky season. I can hear Gothic and Industrial undertones that support and artsy direction from a punk background. I really liked this.

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Tue Jul 18 2023
5

I'm biased because a good friend of mine introduced this record to me a few years ago. According to the Wikipedia page, Iggy describes it as "Kraftwerk meets James Brown", and I think that's the most apt description there can be. There's a weird funk-ish, soul-ish undertone to all this, but it feels... sanitized and mechanical. Like it's mass produced (ba dum tish.) It also helps that I've been to Berlin, and I can feel the architecture of the city bleeding through this record. Again, it's biases all the way down. The songs feel somewhat like a session nightclubbing (I swear, I'll stop), maybe as the end of the night is starting to dawn on people, everyone's messed up and wanting another but probably not able to actually handle it. A lot of words, in a rambling order, to say I really enjoy this record. Maybe I should revisit "Low". Favorite tracks: "Sister Midnight", "Nightclubbing", "Mass Production", "Dum Dum Boys"

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Mon Sep 14 2020
4

Solid album. Absolutely love China Girl especially. It was surprisingly experimental in its use of synths and atmospheric style compositions. I can also see why Iggy Pop is clearly an important pre-cursor to punk music.

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Sun Feb 21 2021
4

Iggy makes a Bowie album. Fascinating.

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Thu Nov 23 2023
4

As producer and co-writer, David Bowie’s influence is pretty evident on this record: it feels a bit like a companion piece to “Heroes”. If you like Bowie’s Berlin era and Brian Eno, I suspect that, like me, you’ll find a lot to like on “The Idiot”.

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Sat Dec 12 2020
1

fuuuuuuucking hell more wonky 70s shit, i think it's pretty safe to say this is the author's favourite era. fuck it off. 1/5.

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Tue Apr 06 2021
1

There was that one song I didn’t want to change halfway through.

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Sat Nov 05 2022
1

I didn't like this album. Something about the dissonance they used and the singing made this album hard for me to listen to. Not my cup of tea. Favorite song: Tiny Girls Worst song: Nightclubbing

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Fri Apr 09 2021
5

Absolute mad cunt of an album, didn't realise Bowie did so much on it too, and china girl *chefs kiss*

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Fri May 14 2021
5

Qué goce escuchar esta colaboración Bowie-Iggy. Lo disfruté mucho, varias cosas que suena a Blowie pero también con la particular voz de Iggy. En definitiva, sí se nota distinto a los otros álbumes de Iggy que ya han pasado. Aunque todas las canciones me gustaron, destacó "Sister Midnight", "Nightclubbing" y el final "Mass Production", una chulada 👌🏼. En fin 10/10.

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Fri May 14 2021
5

Uno de mis discos favoritos. Dum Dum Boys da mucho miedo.

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Mon Apr 26 2021
5

Great album, few bangers in there I didn't know was iffg pop

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Tue Feb 16 2021
5

A a long-time perennial favorite. Listened yet again because it's so good.

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Fri Oct 01 2021
5

This ode hit it on the head. I really liked it much more than his (I assume) layer heavier stuff

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Tue Oct 05 2021
5

An unexpected 5. Every track added to the playlist

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Mon Dec 06 2021
5

an unexpected gem! Very Bowie-esque

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Mon Dec 20 2021
5

A great album I've never discovered before! It's got a nice gritty underground vibe and a cheeky mashup of all the best parts about this era/style of music in my opinion. Super varied and interesting. I love his description of a cross between James Brown and Kraftwerk. I never knew this backstory about Pop and Bowie moving to France together but it's brilliant.

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Fri Dec 31 2021
5

No surprises that Bowie produced this mater piece. Incredible album, perfectly weird without being totally inaccessible. Nightclubing and Dum Sum Boys arey highlights.

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Sun Apr 03 2022
5

This was haunting and so atmospheric

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Sat Apr 09 2022
5

I had no idea that I liked Iggy Pop. Smashing!

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Sat May 07 2022
5

It's amazing how this seems to sit perfectly on the precipice of the 70's and 80's, using the best out of both worlds. And yet, it also seems like it is current and relevant today.

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Wed Aug 03 2022
5

The second album, after Lady Soul by Aretha Franklin, I've been motivated to buy after listening to this. Really its the fourth of Bowie's Berlin trilogy, or rather the first, and that's reason enough.

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Mon Sep 12 2022
5

Wow. I didn't know how Bowie Iggy's Bowie album was going to be. I've been mad generous with the 5* reviews this week, but it looks like that run is going to carry on today! I didn't even know China Girl was a cover! Everything plays like Glam on antidepressants, which sounds better than the simile does. The drums go big, the emotions go flat and resigned. It woooorrrrrks!!!

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Wed Sep 14 2022
5

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=amJUMYE3Qho

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Sun Sep 25 2022
5

As a casual listener of Iggy Pop over the years, I really would not have guessed that Iggy had this kind of album in him. It's exceptional, probably the best he's ever done. I love it more each time I hear it. David Bowie's fingerprints are obviously all over this. It has a lot of the markers of a late 70s Bowie album, the disciplined use of repetition and dissonance, the little touches of soul. But what Iggy brings to the table is his punk sensibility, as well as his trademark authoritative, yet detached vocal style. He also wrote most of the lyrics, which were dark and surprisingly artful. It's a collaboration that really works, one I don't really want to stop listening to. Fave Songs (All songs from most to least favorite): China Girl, Mass Production, Baby, Nightclubbing, Funtime, Dum Dum Boys, Tiny Girls, Sister Midnight

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Mon Oct 03 2022
5

Classic from the Godfather of Punk

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Fri Nov 25 2022
5

Welcome to Iggy and David's perverse nightclub cabaret, filled with freaks, ghouls, industrial automatons and other sorts of monsters of all stripes. It's a fun place, where you can have... a "Funtime". At least if your idea of fun is to get spooked by a twisted Iguana whispering bizarre stuff in your ears. Instruments here do not so much "play" as they grind, croak and wince (Bowie indeed had a great turf to play in here so as to prepare for his infamous "Berlin Trilogy"--a.k.a. *Low*, *"Heroes"* and *Lodger*). A clear outlier, "China Girl" rises high above the other tracks in terms of melody and sheer emotions (what a finale on this one--as good as Bowie's later version is overall, the latter's ending is not as intense as in this original version). As for the rest, heartfelt emotions are not in Pop's agenda anyway, so we can't blame him for painting his imaginary venue in all shades of black instead. In terms of relative flaws, maybe the middle of side 2 is *a little* underwhelming ("Dum Dum Boys" is probably too long, and "Tiny Girls" and its saxophone are quite inconsequential, as moody as they are). But everything else radiates with a dark, ultra-violet light. Especially "Nightclubbing" and the insanely tense and brooding closer "Mass Production", aptly named when you get lost in its proto-industrial waves of noise. To put it in a nutshell, it's easy to understand how this record influenced the likes of Joy Division, Killing Joke or Nine Inch Nails. 4.5/5 for this one, rounded up to a perfect grade. Number of albums left to review: 727 Number of albums from the list I find relevant enough to be mandatory listens: 135 (including this one) Albums from the list I *might* include in mine later on: 65 Albums from the list I will certainly *not* include in mine (many others are more important): 74

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Sat Dec 03 2022
5

5/5. Not a bad song on this. At least on first listen. Might go down later but it was really good.

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Mon Dec 19 2022
5

Man, there's a lot to like in this record. I kept hearing things that reminded me of later groups like Oingo Boingo and Jesus and Mary Chain. I will for sure be playing this again.

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Tue Dec 20 2022
5

As others have said, this is like listening to a new David Bowie album without Bowie's vocals. Delightfully weird, it has that Bowie charm throughout. It doesn't overwrite 'Lust for Life' as my favorite Iggy album, but it's a great predecessor.

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Thu Dec 29 2022
5

There is very little music that is greater than the music Iggy and Bowie produced together.

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Thu Dec 29 2022
5

Excellent greasy off-beat punk. Nightclubbing is excellent and made the Trainspotting soundtrack famous. Lots of lovely little gestures to Bowie blood but the energy is very Iggy. Interesting, groovy, slunks along in a gravy strut. The production makes the album sound like you are overhearing it from an adjacent room which lends the whole experience an air of cool I can really get into.

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Fri Dec 30 2022
5

This is exactly the type of weirdo Eno/Bowie-esque sound I'm into. Definitely a departure from the sound of the Stooges, this album is more experimental, artsy, and electronic. I've always loved Nightclubbing & I have a feeling this will become one of my favorite listens going forward. 4.5 stars

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Sat Dec 31 2022
5

Really great album! I felt like this was just another record made by David Bowie and lo and behold, it is produced by him. Even Iggy's vocal sounds like a slightly more used and tired Bowie. So this is already a very big positive. On the other side we have great instrumental music. It's not a classic rock, trying to fit many riffs into a short song. It's more bluesy, melodies are stretched over minutes of the songs, and they create amazing atmosphere, quite on par with best Bowie's albums. I have never heard any of the song on this record, but that's not really a surprise. Tracks aren't necessarily radio friendly and neither of them is a hit per se. But altogether, when listened in the most cliche way possible, with wine, on a sofa, under a blanket, it's incredibly great piece of music. Another favourite to add to collection.

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Fri Jan 20 2023
5

Sometimes listening to 1001 albums you get an album that is simply incredible (and one that you have not heard before). Iggy Pop's idiot is such an album - weird, dark, punk rock with almost pop-punk infused sounds about twisted partying and popular culture haunts you throughout the album. I absolutely love it. Highlights for me - China Girl, Nightclubbing, Sister Midnight, but really, it does not have any bad songs.

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Tue Jan 31 2023
5

This is one of my favorite albums - I went through a period where I mildly obsessed with David Bowie's Berlin Trilogy, which this album is a precursor. China Girl is absolutely fucking epic. I knew Nightclubbing from the Trainspotting soundtrack, but only grew to love it more when I got into this album. I can't be objective in my assessment since I have loved this album for years, but I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

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Sat Apr 01 2023
5

Je ne suis pas assez une connaisseuse pour dire si c'est album est bon ou mauvais; ce que je peux dire, c'est que les chansons me plaisent, Iggy Pop ne ressemble à personne, et j'aime qu'il prenne des risques et suive son propre chemin

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Mon Apr 03 2023
5

Love it so so so so so so much. this album is a little bit in my blood though.

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Tue Apr 04 2023
5

I'm not particularly thrilled by the lyrics, but musically I LOVE this. Part of the mythic Berlin era, it's like Bowie using Iggy as a sort of lab experiment, and the results are a fantastic new direction for the rock and roll animal. Has an exquisite combination of monotony and swagger that endlessly delights me.

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Fri Apr 07 2023
5

Disco redentor, con un Iggy Pop transmutado en Bowie, calmado y confesor, que renace de su abismo mental en su mejor trabajo. Brillante y oscuro. Brutal.

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Tue Apr 11 2023
5

Prominent bass with some great guitar underneath. David Bowie’s prints all over it. I dig.

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Tue Apr 18 2023
5

All this time I had no idea China Girl had been recorded by Iggy first. I knew he had working history with Bowie, but I just didn't know the extent of it. I was already loving this album, but now I feel more rock educated and totally mind blown at the same time. Incredible artistry, love the musicianship here, and Iggy's thick dry vocals always do it for me. It's good shit.

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Wed Apr 26 2023
5

The guitar and synth mix with Iggy's vocals is gold.

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Wed Apr 26 2023
5

What a great surprise this was. This is exactly the kind of album that I usually don't like, and that's why I had never listened to it. Somehow everything came together perfectly here. Just a collection of weird songs that incomprehensibly work incredibly well together. Also never realized Bowie's version of "China Girl" came out after this one, even if it was only a few years later.

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Fri Jun 23 2023
5

I know this one fairly well and I love love love it. Easy 5.

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Sun Oct 08 2023
5

Weird, but alluring. China girl is especially cool and nightclubbing has some uniquely awesome guitar sounds.

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Thu Nov 09 2023
5

Iggys first solo debut album. So much history is tied to this release, I highly recommend checking out the podcast 'No Dogs In Space' for a good in-depth history behind Iggy's antics that led up to the album. Also, if you do enjoy this PLEASE checkout The Stooges. Iggy Pop did not begin as a solo artist, The Stooges (the band he was apart of) kicked off punk scene with their energy and stage antics.

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Tue Dec 12 2023
5

This one was another one that proved totally new for me - Never heard anything from this before. But it was very evident just from hearing it that Bowie produced it. It's a really neat, electronic and experimental post-punk record, and really does great things to that genre of which I'm still not sure where my opinion stands. This is definitely among one of the great post-punk albums though. There's enough variety in the tracks to keep them interesting, and plenty of interesting elements that prevent each track from going stale. It's awash with atmosphere, dissonance and distortion but it all feels like it adds more to the end product, something I think a lot of post-punk fails to achieve in my opinion. I think Iggy Pop described it perfectly when he described it as "a cross between James Brown and Kraftwerk". There's a funky and soulful element to it, but it's very cold, mechanical, robotic. I can totally see how this went on to inspire a lot of industrial and gothic acts. I admit I had to listen more than once to 'get' it, but now I've had an opportunity to give it my full attention, I'm fully sold on it, and I feel it's only getting better with every listen. An amazing record. Favourite: Funtime

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Sun Dec 31 2023
5

I'm not familiar with Iggy Pop (except Lust for Life) but I enjoyed this album & would listen again.

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Wed Jan 10 2024
5

China Girl is one of my favourite songs of all-time

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Fri Jan 19 2024
5

Great album, already listened to it before but glad to hear it again :)

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Tue Nov 10 2020
4

8/10, pretty great Bowie album and a nice left turn for Iggy. OG China Girl is best

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Fri Jan 15 2021
4

Excellent exemplification of music at late 70s. Also discovered that China girl wasn't only Bowie's! Really enjoyed this album.

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Fri Jan 15 2021
4

Love the sound. Sparse lyrics with droning vocals. Crazy instrumentation with synths.

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Mon Jan 18 2021
4

Lekker relaxed album met de cover China Girl erop. Kan erg genieten van de stem van Iggy.

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Mon Mar 08 2021
4

Great album, don't think I'd ever listened to the whole thing before. Dum Dum Girls was a standout for me.

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Thu Jan 28 2021
4

- Interesting stretched voices - classic rock/ pop - definetly see where it's influenced bowie

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Thu Apr 01 2021
4

Quite good! A bit dark, and not the vibe I'd listen to 24/7, but definitely worth listening to

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Fri May 14 2021
4

Siempre un placer escuchar al Iggy, pero ya fue mucho de él en esta lista, no? XD XD Anyways, tiene unas vibras un poco más sad a comparación de lo super punk que le he escuchado. Creo que la que más me gustó fue Nightclubbing, está sensualona. lol Mood: Iggy llegando a la ancianidad antes de tiempo.

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Thu Mar 11 2021
4

Iggy’s always been a bit of a hero. Some great songs on here and the Bowie presence is obviously strong. Not my favourite of Iggy’s work but still a very solid album.

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Fri May 14 2021
4

Otro de Iggy Pop. No quería escucharlo jajajaja pero al final sí me gustó, me parece diferente a los otros que han salido pero al mismo tiempo sí suena muy él

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Tue Mar 09 2021
4

Tunes are a bit slower and more spoken word than the Lust For Life album. Still good though, easy listening. I reckon Mark E Smith from The Fall took a lot of inspiration from Iggy after hearing this. 3.5. Gonna bump it up to 4 cos I gave the last Iggy one a 3 when that was 3.5 too

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Fri Mar 12 2021
4

Some really ominous sounding tracks on this album. I love it! Very different from The Stooges raw punk tunes and different from what his later solo work sounded like too but still unmistakably Iggy

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Fri Mar 12 2021
4

Iggy pop, such an interesting artist. Some songs felt similar to David Bowie songs to me while others were completely different. Overall: was good! I need to listen to more full albums of his.

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