Iggy Pop – Turn Blue

24th November 2022 · 1970s, 1977, Music
Coming so soon after The Idiot later in 1977, Iggy’s next album Lust For Life – another collaboration with Bowie – seemed somehow frivolous by comparison.

That, though, may be due to hindsight because of the subsequent ubiquity of The Passenger (especially in Trainspotting) and the irresistibly / irritatingly jaunty title track, which is in danger of becoming Iggy’s own Shiny Happy People.

It all goes to make the album seem like the yin to The Idiot’s yang; the upbeat to its downbeat; the positive to its negative; the light to its darkness. Delve deeper though, or simply go back to it, and you find the album has more than its share of darkness.

It’s always felt dark to me, though that may be because I first heard three of its songs at that Rainbow concert six months earlier. They included the two that would have sat happily on The Idiot, both dealing with heroin addiction – which Iggy had experienced after The Stooges broke up.

Tonight begins with the chilling lines: “I saw my baby / She was turning blue / I knew that soon her / Young life was through” – a lyric that Bowie notably excised from his dismal cod-reggae version on the album of the same name.

There’s another song actually called Turn Blue, a sinister seven-minute epic about heroin abuse that Bowie and Pop first composed back in 1975 when it was even closer to home. It’s a disturbing listen with Iggy chanting “I shot myself down… Momma, I shot myself up” before an even more chilling lyrical twist at the very end.

Even The Passenger’s theme of an endless nocturnal journey (inspired, allegedly, by a Jim Morrison poem) is far from upbeat, though there are also singalong songs like Success and Some Weird Sin.

It’s an album of two halves, which a psychologist might put down to its recording location between East and West Berlin at Hansa Studio, just 150 metres from the Wall.

The band includes Bowie on keyboards and his guitarists Carlos Alomar and Ricky Gardiner (who wrote The Passenger’s music) and a rhythm section of future Tin Machine members Tony and Hunt Sales.