Jukebox Babe

My love of San Francisco drone hippy-punks Moon Duo is well documented. They have a new 12″ out today, a pair of covers. One of them is a version of No Fun by The Stooges that they worked up when appearing on 6 Music for Iggy’s 70th birthday (and it gives me an excuse to use this picture of Iggy a friend shared on social media recently). The other is a cover of Alan Vega’s 1981 single Jukebox Babe, an exercise in repetition and reverb that will take some beating. Both were recorded/produced by Sonic Boom, who knows a thing or two about repetition.

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Five Foot One

At the end of the 1970s Iggy released his fourth solo album, New Values. His solo albums from this point on have a bad reputation- a pile up of major label issues, poor or inappropriate backing bands and/or producers and lifestyle choices. And drugs. New Values survives this slew of rotten records, partly because of the presence of former Stooges James Williamson and Scott Thurston on production and guitar, and partly because there are some good songs on it. It’s a bit new wave in places, an attempt by Arista to shift some units (which failed, it charted at number 180). Let’s be frank- it’s not the equivalent of The Stooges albums and it’s not the equal of his Bowie/Berlin albums but New Values sounds good. The title track, The Endless Sea, I’m Bored (‘I’m the chairman of the bored’) all stand out. And this one.

Five Foot One

Iggy takes his height and turns it into a strutting virtue, over squally guitar and bass and spare, rattly 1979 drums. The opening two verses set out Iggy’s way of looking at the world…

‘I’m only five foot one
I got a pain in my neck
I’m looking up in the city
What the hell, what the heck

I stare at the concrete
The girders eye high
The steel’s above me
There’s love in my eyes’

…and the chorus concludes…

‘And I’m doing the things
A five foot one man can do’

There’s a branching off into…

‘And I wish life could be
Swedish magazines’

Iggy doesn’t specify which Swedish magazines- it could be the Ikea catalogue but I suspect he was referring to more adult publications. More five foot one man perspective follows…

‘I’m only five foot one
I got a pain in my heart
All the night I’m working
In the amusement park

With a bottle of aspirin
A sack full of jokes
I wish I could go home
With all the big folks’

Iggy finishes, aged 32, with the conclusion ‘I won’t grow anymore’ and sings it like he wouldn’t want any more height even if it was offered to him.

While writing this post I discovered that there was a video made to promote it. He takes his shirt off in it. No surprises there. But the video and comments led me to some fact checking and the internet seems to be pretty sure that Iggy isn’t five foot one, he is in fact five foot seven (171 cm) which is (according to a celebrity height comparison website) an inch shorter than the average celebrity (2-3 inches shorter than both Bowie and Lou Reed). So Iggy has reduced his height by 6 inches for the authorial purposes of this song, identifying as a shorter man than he actually is.

I don’t know where he put those missing 6 inches.

See That Cat?

Fun House is the most conceptually perfect garage rock album. Side 1 has four songs built around stripped back repetition- repetitive guitar riffs, metronomic drums, reductive lyrics/vocals- recorded live in the studio and as electric and alive as any band has ever been. Down On The Street, Loose, TV Eye, Dirt. Iggy and the 3 Stooges absolutely on it. Side 2 is a little wilder- 1970, Fun House and L.A. Blues bring in a looser feel and Steve Mackay’s punk rock saxophone. If there is a better recording and expression of being in a garage band than these 7 songs, I’ve yet to hear it.

From the Fun House boxed set, The Complete Fun House Sessions, this is the first take of TV Eye, opening with a run around the drum kit, some studio chatter, Iggy introducing the song and then the holler of ‘Looorrd!’. According to Kathy Ashton, younger sister of the Ashton brothers Ron and Scott (guitar and drums respectively), TV Eye stood for Twat Vibe, slang among her and her friends to signal a man who was leering at them. Iggy took this and turned it into a song.

TV Eye (1st Take)

New Year’s Eve

Right then, New Year’s Eve, an over-rated excuse for an enforced piss up if ever there was one. But staying in watching Jools, waiting for the clock to run down, is no good either.

Like many of you (us, the whinging, metropolitan, liberal elite out to deny the democratic voice of the British people) I won’t be too unhappy to see the back of 2016, a downer of a year in many ways. 2017 promises more of the same (in the shape of Trump if nothing else). All we can do is continue to rage against the dying of the light with good music, people we like and trust and a hope that things may get better. To celebrate seeing the back of the year here’s some tunes….

Durutti Column first, the combined talents of Vini Reilly and Martin Hannett, and a song to see the winter out- it’s getting a bit brighter every day and has been since December 21st. That’s something to cheer about.

Sketch For Winter

Some more guitars, this time the squealing, distorted and overloaded kind courtesy of James Williamson and Mr James Osterberg’s Stooges. The start of this song is phenomenal, like the engineer pressed the record button a fraction too late but the band went for it anyway.

Search and Destroy (Mono)

Now some proper four-on-the-floor house music from Chicago in 1987. It contains a spoken word section that has some of the best kiss off threats to the other girl ever recorded (see below)

You Used To Hold Me

It’s all about midnight, count it down. There, done.

Peaking Lights with some chilled out midnight dub sounds to ease 2017 in.

Midnight Dub

And to finish, because all nights should finish with this…

Come Together (Weatherall Mix)

Spoken word section from You Used To Hold Me…

Now honey let me tell you something about my man.
You know he’s a good looking sweet lil’ thing.
That man knows how to satisfy a woman
You know what I’m talking about?
Girlfriend let me tell you,
He bought me this fur coat
A brand new car and this 24 carat gold diamond ring
Ain’t it pretty?
Girfriend you know how it is,
When you got a good man,
You start doin’ things like wearing those high heel shoes
And the lace pocket with the garter belt,
And putting on that sweet smellin’ seductive perfume.
Hm hmm
But you know what?
I’m gonna have to put some lame brain in check honey
Cause she got her locks on my man.
But baby I ain’t givin up on this here good thing not for nobody.
Cause what that dorky chick got wouldn’t satisfy a cheese stick let alone my baby
She better take her big long haired butt and move on ’cause he’s mine all mine

America’s Greatest Living Poet Was Ogling You All NIght

Back at the start of the year Iggy Pop released what may turn out to be his last album. Eight months later it still sounds like a good record and contains several songs that are as good as anything he’s done for ages. It also sounds like a record he wanted to make rather than a contract filler or something to occupy some time. The lead song was Gardenia, opening with a great tremelo guitar part from Josh Homme and then Iggy’s baritone voice comes in singing about Gardenia, a stripper he used to love/admire. The sound of the song harks back to Berlin period Iggy, mechanical and with groove The line about ‘America’s greatest living poet’ comes from a time when Iggy and Allen Ginsberg spent an evening in gardenia’s company, Iggy waiting decades to use this memory in a song.

Gardenia

We Learn Dances, Brand New Dances

I’m not sure if this is a 1977 themed week or an Iggy Pop themed week. Or if it’s a theme week at all. In 1981 Grace Jones covered Nightclubbing, from Iggy’s The Idiot- it was the name of the album as well as a cover of the song. Rhythm kings Sly and Robbie on bass and drums root the whole thing in dub coupled with a New Wave sheen and some hiss. In Iggy’s version he’s in the nightclub but dazed and distanced, an outsider looking in, numbed by party drugs. In this version Grace is imperious, glacial, in the middle of the dancefloor.

Nightclubbing

To Dusseldorf City

…meet Igy Pop and David Bowie.

The title track to their March 1977 release Trans-Europe Express. Peerless and perfect, a sound in motion. Invented pretty much everything that came after it.