“I like music that’s more offensive. I like it to sound like nails on a blackboard, get me wild.” — Iggy Pop
One of the forefathers of modern rock, Iggy Pop, has one hell of an ear. In fact, it’s fair to say that he could have been one of the best in the business. A penchant for the avant-garde has seen Iggy dominate the music industry with his subversive expressions of punk rock but, when asked about his favourite records, it’s hard not to notice one thing: Iggy Pop’s adoration for a star.
We naturally jumped at the chance to create a perfect playlist of his 12 favourite CDs of all time as reported in EW. It’s an eclectic list that sees spots on the turntables for John Coltrane, Bob Dylan, Bowie and The Rolling Stones. While there are certainly some names we’d expect on the list, his friend David Bowie was always a shoo-in, there are also some artists you may not have expected.
It comes together, as one might imagine for a now seasoned radio host and general top bloke, as a beautiful mix and is well worth a listen straight through if you have the time. This is the music that Iggy Pop loves and that has us very happy with a perfect playlist to boot.
See the full list, below.
Iggy Pop’s 12 favourite albums:
12. Bob Dylan – Bringing It All Back Home
Kicking things off with the great Bob Dylan, Iggy Pop has referenced Dylan’s fifth studio album Bringing It All Back Home as an essential listen.
Released on March 22, 1965, by Columbia Records, Dylan’s now-iconic album is a 50/50 split of electric and acoustic guitar which further fueled his ongoing feud with the folk music community at the time.
“I spent the summer of my 18th year studying this and a Stones album,” Pop said. “Great cover, amazing songwriting. The inspiring lack of vocal skills gave me hope.”
11. The Rolling Stones – 12 X 5
Following quickly behind Bob Dylan is another staple band of rock and roll, The Rolling Stones. 12 X 5, the group’s second studio album, arrived just as Mick Jagger and the rest of the band attempted to deal with international fame.
The album, which was famously made up of a string of R&B covers with the likes of Chuck Berry and Bobby Womack, also includes a number of now-iconic Stones numbers such as ‘Good Times, Bad Times’, ‘Congratulations’ and ‘Grown Up Wrong’.
“It’s got a picture of them looking really unhealthy on the front,” Iggy Pop said of the album. “I found out later it was taken by David Bailey, this really sophisticated photographer/image-maker.” It’s an iconic LP and clearly not one that passed Iggy by.
10. David Bowie – Station to Station
It wouldn’t be a list of Iggy Pop’s favourite records without a mention for his oldest mate David Bowie, would it?
Released by RCA Records in 1976, Station to Station marked the arrival of Bowie’s on-stage persona ‘The Thin White Duke‘ and did so with new, transitional material. Bowie, exploring the world of funk and soul music, blending elements of the genre while offering a nod of the head to iconic German bands such as Neu! and Kraftwerk.
Widely regarded as one of the best records of all time, Station to Station boasts fan favourites such as ‘Golden Years’, ‘Word on a ‘Wing’, Stay’ and more. Naturally, it ranks as one of Iggy’s favourites.
“It’s a very exciting record,” Iggy Pop said of the album. “It’s short. All my favourite records are really effing short.”
9. Frank Sinatra – In the Wee Small Hours
From Bowie to Sinatra in one seamless swoop, Iggy Pop shows off his crooning credentials with this pick as it not only showcases his adoration for Sinatra but the smooth tones of his performing too.
Released in 1955, In the Wee Small Hours sees a crooning Sinatra tackle theme of isolation, existential love and depression in a typically emotive fashion.
“This is a nice one,” Pop says. “There’s such a cult around him, the buffs [hardcore fans] have a name for this period—his pathos period or something—where he sings songs of loss in an intimate setting. He excels at it.”
Released in 1955, In the Wee Small Hours arrived as the ninth studio album by Sinatra and tackles themes of loneliness and lost love and featured covers of Cole Porter, Duke Ellington and more.
8. Various Artists – The Indian Runner
The film soundtrack for Sean Penn’s 1991 crime drama film The Indian Runner is next up and while it’s not often that a soundtrack is thrown in the mix for one’s list of favourite albums, Iggy is anything but usual.
The film, based on Bruce Springsteen’s song ‘Highway Patrolman’, enjoyed a score created by Jack Nitzsche and David Lindley. “After getting into trouble with the law, violence-prone Frank Roberts seeks help from his brother Joe, an even-tempered policeman,” the film’s synopsis reads. Frank hopes to start fresh, and his brother has faith that he can do it. So Joe agrees to let Frank stay—despite the admonitions of his wife, Maria, who would rather not have Frank in the house. And though he performs well at first, Frank’s inner turmoil eventually erupts, creating chaos in their once tranquil home.”
While the film caught Iggy Pop’s attention, it was the stellar soundtrack that featured contributions from the likes of Jefferson Airplane, David Lindley, Creedence Clearwater Revival and more.
”This is the soundtrack to a movie Sean Penn directed,” Pop said. “Half of it is a real elegant folk-blues score by Jack Nitzsche. The other half are songs by Sean’s favourite hippie bands like Traffic, Creedence, and Jefferson Airplane.”
See the trailer, below.
7. Marty Robbins – Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs
Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs, a 1959 country album by Marty Robbins, was recorded in a single eight-hour session and earned victory at the Grammy Awards when it claimed the gong for ‘Best Country & Western Recording’.
Arguably best known for Robbins’ most successful single, ‘El Paso’, critics have since described the record as one of “the single most influential album of Western songs in post-World War II American music.” It’s quite a statement but one that requires little rebuttal.
Pop said of the album: “His big hit was ‘El Paso’. Stuff like this or Hank Williams is as close as I get to country.”
6. James Brown – Star Time
“I listen to this a lot,” Pop says of his next selection. “Tight is a very inadequate word for his band.” Judging by the searing rhythms featured on the record, it’s hard to argue with that statement.
It’s James Brown time. Star Time, released in 1991, boasts a quite ridiculous 71 tracks in total which pretty much collected Brown’s complete musical works to that point.
The box set is made up of four full-length records starting with Mr. Dynamite before moving on to The Hardest Working Man In Show Business, Soul Brother No. 1, and The Godfather Of Soul and is by far the most comprehensive collection of James Brown’s recordings ever issued.
Four CDs in one box set, what’s not to like? Iggy sure know how to get the best bang for his buck.
5. The Jimi Hendrix Experience – Are You Experienced
The most iconic debut album of all time? Quite possibly. The first studio album by the Jimi Hendrix Experience arrived in a blaze of glory and has stood the test of time.
The Jimi Hendrix Experience rocked up in the late 1960s armed with Hendrix and his axe and prepared to rip up the genre as people knew it. A wealth of gold, the record boasted tracks like ‘Hey Joe’, ‘Purple Haze’, ‘The Wind Cries Mary’, ‘Foxy Lady’ and more which sums up its brilliance.
“When it came out, nothing else had ever sounded like this. Super special,” Iggy Pop said of the record. It’s quite rightly seen as one of the best and when you focus on the genius of Hendrix, you can start to see a theme in Iggy’s selections — they all have a star at the centre.
4. The Beatles – Rubber Soul
Rubber Soul, the sixth studio album by a certain English rock band going by the name of The Beatles, is up next. “This is just after they’d written their cute hits and a little more sadness was creeping in,” Iggy Pop said. “But they hadn’t yet gone into the this-song-is-gonna-be-12-minutes-long-and-I’m-depressed-so-put-up-with-it phase.”
Released in 1965 through EMI’s Parlophone label, Rubber Soul continued to show their maturity as musicians and songwriters as their material took another turn away from pop and saw them further explore elements of psychedelia and progressive rock.
Widely regarded as one of the greatest albums of all time, the album holds now-iconic tracks such as ‘Nowhere Man’, ‘In My Life’, ‘Drive My Car’ and many more songs which confirm the LP as a masterpiece.
“People have always wanted us to stay the same, but we can’t stay in a rut,” Paul McCartney once said of the album. “No one else expects to hit a peak at 23 and never develop, so why should we? Rubber Soul for me is the beginning of my adult life.”
John Lennon, meanwhile, once famously commented: “You don’t know us if you don’t know Rubber Soul.”
3. John Coltrane – The Heavyweight Champion
Iggy Pop is cheating a bit with this favourite albums list but who are we to complain? Up next, the second box set of the article, a monster from the great Coltrane and it’s another reminder of Iggy’s penchant for the artists who always pushed themselves creatively.
The mammoth 1995 box set by the jazz icon features all of the recordings Coltrane made for Atlantic Records, spanning January 15, 1959, to May 25, 1961, in an uncompromising collection.
In what has been dubbed ‘The Complete Atlantic Recordings’, this collection of records exhibits eight iconic Coltrane records. ”You can put it on in a car, before dinner, if you’re lonesome—he always flows real nice,” Pop said.
He added: “Probably more than any other single artist, I listen to him.” It’s a trait that we suggest everybody should pick up.
2. Louis Armstrong – The Complete Hot Five and Hot Seven Recordings, Vol. 1
“Eerie, scary, and sometimes ironic. Really cool playing.” Iggy once again proves himself to be more of a music aficionado as one might have previously believed. But, on reflection, it’s no surprise that he found room for Armstrong on this list.
Before rock ‘n’ roll really took over, the world was being swept away by jazz and the horn player was akin to the lead guitarists that would follow — taking the plaudits and the spotlight whenever they could. It seems fitting then that Iggy should be attracted to them and especially Armstrong.
This is a captivating set and well worth revisiting at your earliest convenience.
1. R.L. Burnside – Too Bad Jim
A bit of rock and blues to see things off from Iggy. Too Bad Jim, by R.L. Burnside, was described as “a good sharp poke with a short, sharp stick,” by Pop himself who favours the deep greasy blues of Burnside.
He added: “I just got the Killers album. I don’t wanna listen to The Killers. I wanna listen to this!” Listening to the record in our playlist below, it’s hard to argue with the joy of Burnside. Our apologies Brandon Flowers.
Stream a full playlist of the albums, below.
Iggy Pop’s 12 favourite albums of all time:
- Bob Dylan – Bringing It All Back Home
- The Rolling Stones – 12 X 5
- David Bowie – Station to Station
- Frank Sinatra – In the Wee Small Hours
- Various Artists – The Indian Runner
- Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs – Marty Robbins
- James Brown – Star Time
- The Jimi Hendrix Experience – Are You Experienced
- The Beatles – Rubber Soul
- John Coltrane – The Heavyweight Champion
- Louis Armstrong – The Complete Hot Five and Hot Seven Recordings, Vol. 1
- R.L. Burnside – Too Bad Jim