FROM the instant that those rollicking drums and playfully light hearted chords explode into life, your brain can’t help bit associate the sound of Iggy Pop’s Lust For Life with hedonism, energy and above all else; rebellion.
Although it may have been forever enshrined in the cultural zeitgeist thanks to its inclusion in Danny Boyle’s timeless adaptation of Irvine Welsh’s Trainspotting, the timeless opening track from his 1977 album of the same name has always stood as a testament to the irrepressible vitality of the man himself.
Lesser known as mild mannered Jim Osterberg from Detroit, Michigan, it was fellow punk icon Henry Rollins that most astutely explained the difference between the former Stooges frontman’s feral stage persona and the vessel that he resides within in day-to-day life. A man that he maintains is the “heavyweight champion of rock ‘n’ roll”, the Black Flag lynchpin has always stood by the notion that the individual that you encounter behind the scenes and the all-conquering conduit of anarchy that makes its way through the curtain have an almost symbiotic relationship. Recalling a series of occasions in which he attempted to compete with Iggy in terms of showmanship, it soon became apparent that no matter how many times he upped the stakes, Iggy was not to be outdone.
Even now at the ripe old age of 70, the man that is often seen as the forefather of what would come to be known as punk continues to permeate into all facets of modern music. Look at almost any artist that maintains an unhinged and aggressive stage persona that confronts the audience as much as it entertains and you will see his influence of his malevolent, weaponised performances s seeping into venues across the world. Forgoing his indelible imprint on live music and how it is presented, his persisting importance to rock ‘n roll’s landscape was made all too clear by the release of last year’s Post Pop Depression. Helmed by none other than the internationally revered Josh Homme and featuring percussion from Arctic Monkeys’ virtuosic sticksman Matt Helders, the fact that the album was not only daring and highly enjoyable but was conceived with the assistance of two of modern rock’s most prominent figures is demonstrative of how much he means to the genre.
Similar to his most recent (and reportedly last) full length LP, the album which turns 40 years old today was also born of collaboration with one of the finest to ever pick up an instrument and contribute music to the world. Following on from The Idiot, Lust For Life is the second time in which Iggy teamed up with longtime friend and confidant David Bowie in order to create what can only be described as a masterclass in subversive rock & roll. Perhaps best known for its seminal title track and the Jim Morrison-inspired jauntiness of ‘The Passenger’, to neglect the rest of the album in favour of its two renowned singles would be to miss out on some of the low key gems of his catalogue. Undoubtedly one of his most ambitious and affecting pieces of work, the soul baring sounds of “Turn Blue” sees Iggy expunging the depths of his substance-addled brain over 7 minutes of electrifying 50’s aping instrumentation. One of his most sardonically lyrical projects to this day, Iggy is in rare form on tracks such as ‘Neighborhood Threat” “Sixteen” and the foreboding and tongue-in-cheek send-up of the trials of fame that is ‘Success.’
Concluding with the more lust-fuelled and rugged sound of ‘Fall In Love With Me’, this is an album that displays Iggy in all of his decadent glory and should be viewed alongside records such as Funhouse and Raw Power as canonised works of rock ‘n’ roll at its most impactful.
A deeply original body of work that saw Iggy revert from the highly strung sounds of punk that he had spawned that were now dominating culture in favour of tainting the more traditional structure with his signature style, Lust For Life has far more to offer than just its incendiary opening and today is the perfect time to delve into it for the first time or revisit an indisputable classic that will outlive every one of us.