“I like music that’s more offensive. I like it to sound like nails on a blackboard, get me wild.” — Iggy Pop
The annals of music history are a mind-bending thing to study. There was a point when the musical luminaries of Iggy Pop, David Bowie and Lou Reed were on the brink of destitution. Now, however, it is incredulous to envisage them as anything other than the Gods they are rightfully heralded as.
The Stooges may well be a band who changed the course of music. As Charlie Steen of the band Shame remarked when we recently spoke to him: “The Stooges changed my life. Only three albums to their name and these three records seem to have altered the fate and direction of so much that came after them. The list of artists that cite this band as the reason they picked up an instrument is endless.”
Adding: “It seems as if this band has nothing to lose when you listen to them. No willingness to sacrifice their sound in hopes of achieving a high rank in the charts. No sign of trying to mould themselves to be something they were not. Nobody had seen anything like them at the time and nobody has seen or heard anything as real as them since.”
However, their impact was second hand, during their existence they scarcely altered the course of Iggy’s life let alone the music industry. Having broken up in disarray following 1973’s now-iconic Raw Power, Iggy’s life post-Stooges was docked in the tempestuous bay of bewilderment, booze and substance abuse. Through a caustic combination of excesses and artistic exile, Iggy wound up in a Californian mental institution.
He may well have departed the industry for good at that moment, but a love of music pulled him through and quite often it was music at the daring end of bravura that served up salvation for the former Stooges star. Enter Jimi Hendrix, a paradigm of such daring musical talents. Even before Iggy Pop listed his favourite albums, you would have guessed that Hendrix would feature, but which album does he rate the highest?
Iggy opts for what might possibly be the most iconic debut of all time: Are You Experienced. The first studio album by the Jimi Hendrix Experience arrived in a blaze of glory in 1967 and has stood the test of time. Displaying not only Hendrix’s guitar playing virtuoso but also his ability to hone it into scintillating songs, it stands out as a pinnacle of guitar rock (and that’s without even mentioning the vital contributions of Noel Redding and Mitch Mitchell).
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. Over the course of Iggy’s BBC Radio 6Music residency, he continually extolled his love of the record, also dubbing Hendrix’s version of ‘Mannish Boy’ originally by Muddy Waters as one of. His favourite covers.
As it happens, the love ran both ways. Whether Iggy is aware of this or not I don’t know, but there is a photo (reportedly taken backstage at Woodstock 1969 aka the most iconic concert of all time) that shows Hendrix dropping the needle on The Stooges debut. Based on his love for Are You Experienced, this mind-bending would surely twist Iggy’s melon much like the awe-inspiring sound of Hendrix and his fabled axe.