Iggy Pop gives the impression of a deranged lunatic when he’s on stage, parading around as if his life was dependent on it. Underneath the charade, however, the punk pioneer is an encyclopedic source of knowledge, and on one occasion, he even revealed his favourite album by The Beatles.
The former Stooges singer has an eclectic taste, as demonstrated on his acclaimed BBC 6 Music radio programme, which makes for unmissable radio every Friday evening. His favourite band of the last decade is surprisingly Sleaford Mods, and he even trained his pet cockatoo, Biggy Pop, to sing along in what is a strange snapshot into his bizarre yet, utopian existence.
Ever since he hit fame with The Stooges, Iggy Pop has been a larger-than-life icon, helping to transfigure rock music by following the wake of The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and countless other major acts. While The Stooges were initially written off as primitive, Iggy Pop and his band eventually proved there was more substance to their material. With renewed vigour, they smashed through the glass ceiling with the David Bowie-produced record, Raw Power.
Back in 2005, Iggy sat down with EW to allow a glimpse behind the curtain, exploring his 12 most treasured CDs in his personal collection – a medium of listening which, admittedly, dates the article. However, unlike CDs, his love of The Beatles hasn’t grown obsolete.
The only record by the Fab Four on his list is Rubber Soul, the group’s sixth studio album. Released in 1965 through EMI’s Parlophone label, it continued to show their maturity as musicians and songwriters as their material took another turn away from pop and further explored elements of psychedelia and progressive rock.
“This is just after they’d written their cute hits and a little more sadness was creeping in,” Iggy commented. “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.”
Meanwhile, one of the creators, Paul McCartney, once said of the album: “People have always wanted us to stay the same, but we can’t stay in a rut. 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.” Whereas, John Lennon once famously commented: “You don’t know us if you don’t know Rubber Soul.”
Before this album, The Beatles were a pop sensation, and Rubber Soul marked their coming of age moment. The band had exhausted the traditional songwriting tropes associated with rock ‘n’ roll, and after a meeting with Bob Dylan in 1964, they decided to spread their wings. Now, they wanted to express themselves and showcase their growing artistry. It would provide not only a pivotal moment for the group but a sensational record in Rubber Soul.
Iggy Pop isn’t the only person to view this record as the Beatles’ best album, and George Harrison shared his perspective. “Rubber Soul was my favourite album,” the guitarist once revealed. “Even at that time, I think that it was the best one we made,” he added when reflecting on the iconic record in the ’90s. “The most important thing about it was that we were suddenly hearing sounds we weren’t able to hear before. Also, we were being more influenced by other people’s music and everything was blossoming at that time—including us.”
While there’s a strong case for Rubber Soul being the most remarkable record that The Beatles ever produced, there’s an even bigger one for it being the most significant album ever released. It kickstarted a new, expansive era and provided a trailer of their experimental future.