Listen back to David Bowie’s epic cover of Iggy Pop’s iconic track ‘Lust For Life’ live at Rockpalast, 1996
We’re dipping into the Far Out Magazine vault to bring you the moment David Bowie took on the song of his friend, Iggy Pop. The track which cemented their partnership on and off the record, ‘Lust For Life’.
The long-standing relationship between Iggy Pop and the late, great David Bowie was a beautifully honest and creative one. The pair were an unstoppable artistic force and found themselves sharing writing credits on many occasions. One notable instance is Iggy’s frantic and furious track, the underbelly anthem that typifies his output and his persona; ‘Lust For Life’. We take a look back at Bowie’s own version of the song from his live performance at Rockpalast back in 1996.
During Bowie and Iggy’s time in mainland Europe, the pair were living and working together in incredibly close proximity and so it’s no surprise that Bowie is featured on much of Iggy’s work and, perhaps most notably, on his second studio album Lust For Life. It was this LP that the pair worked on together with Bowie also helming the mixing desk on Pop’s first solo work The Idiot earlier in that year. 1977 was a blur for the duo.
The tune for the album’s title track, the anthemic ‘Lust For Life’ reportedly came from a curious source. Reports say that Bowie and Iggy would often watch American television via the AFN (Armed Forces Network) such as ‘Starsky & Hutch’. Bowie picked up his son Duncan’s ukelele and started to replicate the station’s ident jingle with a curious flourish.
From this, Bowie and Pop began to construct the song piece by piece. The first stop, as was always the way for former percussionist Iggy, started with the drums and the original song featured a 1:10min drum-led intro which was later scrapped. From there they created a seminal moment in punk and alternative rock history.
Nearly 20 years later and the power of the song seemingly had not diminished for one of its original performers as David Bowie sings the track to a rapturous crowd at Germany’s Rockpalast Festival. 1996 was an interesting time for Bowie, a time of change, of adapting to a new way, of modernising and of going back to basics. All in one year.
At the time Bowie was starting to lose the critical shine which had followed him through the previous two decades. The critics had begun to become tired of Bowie’s antics and although his work with Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor struck a chord with fans, those who had been glittered to the nines in the seventies were starting to lose touch with the new industrial sound of Bowie in the nineties. However, it was also a time when Bowie was determined to accept the artistic process and the inevitable change that it precedes.
One such change was the explosion of the internet. Even back in 1996, Bowie, way ahead of his time, was pushing forward with online streaming and downloads, debuting his release ‘Telling Lies’ as an internet-only release. At 50, Bowie was still leading the way for the innovators of the next generation and was still being overlooked despite it.
In the June of 1996 the now-massive alternative rock festival, Rockpalast which takes place in Dusseldorf, Germany, had Bowie as high placement on a quite illustrious bill. Not only was there room for Iggy himself, Pulp, Bad Religion, The Band, Placebo but even Frank Black found a spot on the line-up.
This performance below shows Bowie at some internal and external crossroads of creativity. Technologically he was pushing himself further and faster than ever before, but musically he was still reliant on the classic work of his past to bolster his performance. The truth is though, that this is where Bowie felt at home.