Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Songoftheday 8/15/17 - Beautiful beautiful girl from the north, you burned my heart with a flickering torch...

"Candy" - Iggy Pop
from the album Brick By Brick (1990)
Billboard Hot 100 peak: #28 (one week)
Weeks in the Top-40: 3

Today's song of the day comes from punk legend Iggy Pop, who was born James Osterberg Jr in suburban Michigan. Starting out as a drummer, and assuming the first name of "Iggy" for one of his bands the Iguanas, he put together his own group as the lead singer called the Stooges in the late 60's, dubbing himself "Iggy Pop". They released their self-titled debut album in 1969, with the cult classic "I Wanna Be Your Dog" barreling through speakers of those in the know at the time. It was produced by Velvet Underground member John Cale, and climbed to just about the halfway mark on Billboard magazine's albums chart. Their follow-up, Fun House, was even more chaotic and more revered by punk rock lovers, who deem this a seminal start to the genre. With drummer Scott Asheton and his brother Ron on guitars and then bass after Dave Alexander got booted, the band had a following but no big success. But heroin had crippled most of the band including Pop, and they split up in 1971.

A couple years later, with the help of David Bowie and his manager Tony DeFries, Iggy brought back the Stooges with guitarist John Williamson and the Asheton brothers. The result was the iconic punk precursor Raw Power, and again while the record did make the albums chart at #182, the band again descended into druggie hell, and were dropped by the label and management. Pop ended up in the hospital/rehab, put eventually set out with Bowie to Germany, where they recorded Pop's first solo album The Idiot, which came out in 1977 and contained an early version of Bowie's later top-10 pop hit "China Girl". Later that same year came his second solo disc, Lust For Life. The title track ended up a top-10 hit in the Netherlands and Belgium, helped by his set-destructing appearance on local "American Bandstand"-style show TopPop. The album also featured comedian Soupy Sales' sons Tony Fox and Hunt Sales, who would go on to play with Bowie as Tin Machine.

Pop went on his own after that, switching to Arista Records, bringing back Williamson and Stooge touring keyboardist Scott Thurston for the New Values album in 1979, but only the "I'm Bored" track saw a minor hit place in Australia, again helped by the controversial TV appearance. Releasing a scattering of albums in the early 1980's, with the single "Bang Bang" from his Party album reaching the American dance chart at #35, he again fell prey to drugs, until taking time off (with the help of royalties from Bowie's re-recordings of his "China Girl" among others) to clean up. He reemerged with Blah-Blah-Blah in 1986, and the set is my personal favorite of his, with single "Cry For Love" reaching #19 on the dance chart and #34 rock radio in the U.S., while "Real Wild Child (Wild One)" going all the way to #10 on the British pop singles chart. Two years later, Pop followed up with the Instinct record with Sex Pistols guitar man Steve Jones, which brought his punk sound back. Lead track "Cold Metal" slipped on to the rock chart at #37.

Iggy started the 1990's with a contribution to the soundtrack of the Michael Douglas movie Black Rain, "Livin' On The Edge Of The Night", that at the time would climb higher than his earlier work at #16 on the Modern Rock radio list. Produced by Don Was (of Was Not Was), the retro-rockabilly sounding track would end up on his next album, Brick By Brick. Was helmed the record, which sent the next single, "Home", to #2 on the Modern Rock chart for a week. But the third release from the set, "Candy", brought pop radio in on the party with the help of B-52's singer Kate Pierson, who was riding high after the success of her band's Cosmic Thing album. Written by Pop, it was by far his most "mainstream"-sounding record, and the mid-tempo alt-rock gem gave him his biggest American pop success...

"Candy" became Iggy's sole top-40 pop hit in the U.S. in February of 1991. The song also climbed to #5 on Billboard's Modern Rock radio chart, and #30 on the Mainstream Rock list. Internationally, the single reached the top ten in the Netherlands (#7), Australia (#9), and Belgium (#10), and got to #67 in the UK.

Later in 1991, Pop teamed up with Debbie Harry (whose partner Chris Stein produced one of his 80s records) for a cover of the Cole Porter standard "Well Did You Evah" for the AIDS benefit Red Hot & Blue album, which just missed the British top-40 at #42. Two years later, Pop put out American Caesar, and "Wild America" appeared on the rock radio list at #25.  He continued to act and record music through the decade, though his biggest notice came in 1996 when his "Lust For Life" song was a central part of the movie Trainspotting, which caused the song to finally enter the British top-40 at #26. A couple years later, he did even better with old track "The Passenger", which hawked Toyotas in a TV ad and went to #22 in the UK. Was came band to produce Pop's Avenue B album in 1999, and the single "Corruption" slipped on to the British chart on the bottom rung of #100. After a couple of high-profile featured gigs on electronic-rock act Dirty Vegas' British top ten hit "Aisha" (#9, 2000), and on punk princess Peaches' "Kick It" (#39, 2004), Iggy reunited with the Asheton brothers for his Skull Ring album in 2004, and single "Little Know It All", featuring pop-punk band Sum-41, became his most recent rock radio hit in the U.S. at #35.  He continued with the Ashetons to revive the Stooges with sax player Steve MacKay (who played on Fun House), Mike Watt on bass, and John Williamson again (after Ron Asheton died in 2009) for tours and a couple more albums. They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2010, and Iggy's most recent solo album, Post Pop Depression, was nominated for a Grammy for Alternative Rock album this year, losing to his late friend David Bowie's Blackstar set.

(Click below to see the rest of the post)

Here's Pop and Pierson performing live on the Arsenio Hall show in 1991, along with an interview with them...

and lastly, Pop with the Pretenders performing "Candy"...

Up tomorrow: Fairytale metalheads need housing.

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