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In 1976, the Stooges had been gone for two years, and Iggy Pop had developed a notorious reputation as one of rock & roll’s most spectacular waste cases. After a self-imposed stay in a mental hospital, a significantly more functional Iggy was desperate to prove he could hold down a career in music, and he was given another chance by his longtime ally, David Bowie.

Bowie co-wrote a batch of new songs with Iggy, put together a band, and produced The Idiot, which took Iggy in a new direction decidedly different from the guitar-fueled proto-punk of the Stooges. Musically, The Idiot is of a piece with the impressionistic music of Bowie’s “Berlin Period” (such as Heroes and Low), with it’s fragmented guitar figures, ominous basslines, and discordant, high-relief keyboard parts. Iggy’s new music was cerebral and inward-looking, where his early work had been a glorious call to the id, and Iggy was in more subdued form than with the Stooges, with his voice sinking into a world-weary baritone that was a decided contrast to the harsh, defiant cry heard on “Search and Destroy.”

Iggy was exploring new territory as a lyricist, and his songs on The Idiot are self-referential and poetic in a way that his work had rarely been in the past; for the most part the results are impressive, especially “Dum Dum Boys,” a paean to the glory days of his former band, and “Nightclubbing,” a call to the joys of decadence. The Idiot introduced the world to a very different Iggy Pop, and if the results surprised anyone expecting a replay of the assault of Raw Power, it also made it clear that Iggy was older, wiser, and still had plenty to say; it’s a powerful and emotionally absorbing work.

On The Idiot, Iggy Pop looked deep inside himself, trying to figure out how his life and his art had gone wrong in the past. But on Lust for Life, released less than a year later, Iggy decided it was time to kick up his heels, as he traded in the mid-tempo introspection of his first album and began rocking hard again. Musically, Lust for Life is a more aggressive set than The Idiot, largely thanks to drummer Hunt Sales and his bassist brother Tony Sales. The Sales’ proved they were a world class rhythm section, laying out power and spirit on the rollicking title cut, the tough groove of “Tonight,” and the lean neo-punk assault of “Neighborhood Threat,” and with guitarists Ricky Gardner and Carlos Alomar at their side, they made for a tough, wiry rock & roll band — a far cry from the primal stomp of the Stooges, but capable of kicking Iggy back into high gear. (David Bowie played piano and produced, as he had on The Idiot, but his presence is less clearly felt on this album.)

As a lyricist and vocalist, Iggy Pop rose to the challenge of the material; if he was still obsessed with drugs (“Tonight”), decadence (“The Passenger”), and bad decisions (“Some Weird Sin”), the title cut suggested he could avoid a few of the temptations that crossed his path, and songs like “Success” displayed a cocky joy that confirmed Iggy was back at full strength. On Lust for Life, Iggy Pop managed to channel the aggressive power of his work with the Stooges with the intelligence and perception of The Idiot, and the result was the best of both worlds; smart, funny, edgy, and hard-rocking, Lust for Life is the best album of Iggy Pop’s solo career.

by Mark Deming, allmusic.com

DOWNLOAD:
Iggy Pop-LUST FOR LIFE (1977)
V0 MP3
Iggy Pop-THE IDIOT (1977)
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