Iggy Pop is not just one of the most recognisable faces in the world in music but he also has an eye for recognising talent when he sees. It is this special talent which has made his BBC 6 Music radio show a must-listen for any music fan.
Pop’s show has been a weekly source of escapism and joy for hundreds of thousands of people who get an intimate insight into Iggy’s record collection which, somewhat predictably, is ever-expanding with the best new talents from across the globe.
In 2014, he was asked about the five artists that everybody needs to be listening to right now which arrived as a mix of artists new and old. Given our lack of live music during the current crisis, Iggy Pop’s recommendations are certainly worth re-visiting. Looking back upon Iggy’s excellent choices provides further insight into what his possible Desert Island Discs would consist of.
It shows off a group of artists who as Iggy puts it, “get down to the nitty gritty”, which means they’re a no-holds-barred set of groups ready to tear your head off at moment’s notice.
See the full list, below.
One band that Iggy mentioned was the Japanese rockers Boris who, in the great scheme of things, are about as experimental and out there as you can get. Since releasing their debut record in 1996, they have gone on to record over 20 more studio albums and are the definition of prolific.
This is why Iggy says you should listen to them: “Listening to that I want to correct myself about the lack of fitting descendants of La Düsseldorf and Neu! because they’re doing it. I didn’t spot it the first few times around because it’s just so much more recessive and almost depressive. But there’s a very, very subtle pulse and lyricism that comes through what I think people wrongly call noise rock or noise music. There’s a lot of elements going on there.”
Adding: “They’re from Japan and have managed to throw away the conventions that didn’t suit them in terms of expressing what they imagined.”
The next artist on his list is the Malian blues band Tinariwen who first formed all the way back in 1979 and are still creating music which is simply incomparable to anybody else. Iggy adores their material and said this on the desert rockers: “That sounds good, it feels good. That’s my favourite group! Tinariwen. They come from the Tuareg area of Mali, Niger Mauritania region, it doesn’t really matter what country you call it down there. That to me is the kind of music that can only develop when there’s a lot of space and time and not a bunch of junk stuff getting in the way.
Iggy continued: “I would just like to have them in the backyard right now for a while. I’d just drop what I was doing. That music just feels naturally right. Right now. This year. Now. On earth. To me. That’s best for me.”
You can be forgiven for not being aware of the first two bands on the list but serious questions need to be had if you are unaware of the work of Iggy’s third pick, Joy Division, with the Ian Curtis led group needing little introduction. The former Stooges man has the highest of praise for the seminal group, stating: “These songs are so great. I heard this stuff when I was living in Berlin in the 70s and I was just mighty, mighty impressed.”
Adding: “This is fine art and that’s about all I can say about it. On top of all of its other virtues, these are moral songs and those are very difficult to write.”
The fourth artist on his last, is the wonderful Jehnny Beth fronted Savages, who have been on a hiatus since 2017 and are one of the most acclaimed British based alternative bands of the last decade, who received two Mercury nominations. Iggy professed his love for the band, saying: There’s a really nice song called ‘Shut Up’ by a band called Savages. It starts out with a rap that is true and kind of concerned and angry about not being able to get down to hear yourself think, to what’s important because there’s just so much crap being thrown at everybody in the modern media society.
“These are ladies in the group and they are very good. I had the privilege to play on a bill with them at the Royal Festival Hall last year and they were mighty fine at what they did. She’s got a point. Shut up.”
His last pick from his eclectic collection is fellow Michigan rockers MC5, which is somewhat more of a closer to home pick than the international picks that dominate the other places on the list and are the only Americans that make his selection.
Iggy said: “The MC5 had a certain ethic about what was good and real and righteous. A certain politics that was tough to live up to, but had its place. The song ‘Kick out the Jams’ is perhaps the most sincere expression of that they had.”