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for January 16, 2004

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Pop Goes Iggy
by Stiffy Biceptz

Awhile back in one of my earliest articles titled "Commercial Justice", I pronounced television advertising to be the best and only mass media outlet for authentic Alternative music. It remains true to this day.
Stiffy Biceptz has recently picked out four more commercials featuring Alt sounds. Devo's Freedom of Choice has gotten attached to a popular beer ad. Meanwhile, Go! by Tones on Tail, a somewhat obscure Melody dance floor favorite is trying to sell you some sort of telecommunication product. More surprisingly, a very recent hit by the Transplants, a Rancid-sort-of-spin-off band was featured in spot for a very popular hair care product, which from the looks of it, would be of little use to the band members themselves. Based on the popularity of Alt music in national TV commercials, perhaps it's time for cool bands to release new tunes directly to advertisers. It's the only time they'll get a chance to be heard.
Most interesting of all however, is Lust For Life, Iggy Pop's signature song being used as the music in a cruise line commercial. As with all the others, it's the original track, but it's carefully spliced together to avoid the lyrics "liquor and drugs" and "sex machine". Personally, a cruise featuring the former and the latter sounds like a lot more fun...
I discovered Lust For Life at the Melody in 1986. When a beautiful Siren I desired made it known that Iggy was one of her favorites, I made an effort to discover everything he had done. And although I was never able to get any farther with the woman of my desires the than the dance floor, I did get Iggy Pop.
Now Iggy's been around for a long time. He emerged out of a proto punk broth in the late Sixties and was the force and charisma behind the Stooges. When they imploded, Iggy was left somewhat high and dry, lost in a classic rock world, an alternative virus without a host.
By the time the punk movement was born, and new wave began to make a big impact, Iggy had been all but forgotten. He was rescued by Bowie, who he collaborated with to make Lust For Life, The Idiot, and 1986's Blah, Blah, Blah. He's worked with Steve Jones, Slash, Debbie Harry, Kate Pierson, and most recently with Sum 41. Despite my loathing for that band, Iggy's latest single with them, "Little Know it All" is great. But its all Iggy boys, don't get big heads. For the past 30 years he's cranked out albums and singles with little attention.
I saw Iggy at the Stone Pony in February of 1987 during his Blah, Blah, Blah tour. To this day that is still one of the greatest live performances I have every seen. In 1988 at City Gardens, he was a huge disappointment. Different band, different vibe, not at his best. But that's Iggy.
Iggy Pop is the Godfather of Punk, Alternative, New Wave and Modern Rock. This is not news to many of you, but it's important to give him credit as often as possible. His entire career has been an underground journey. Never embraced by the mainstream, he's none the less produced an amazing collection of singles over the last 30 years.
Iggy's always been a loose cannon, a rogue state, a lone gunman. Unbridled, untamed, a real wild child. Moving from moment to moment, year to year, appearing in a flash of brilliance then disappearing without a trace, often for years at a time, quietly forgotten, only to emerge again reborn, fully charged, as fully vital as any 22-year-old. He's still got the body of a fit 18-year-old, although his face betrays his more mature standing. Yet in that weathered face you can see the same kid who helped inspire a pop music revolution. He's just plain fun.
If you aren't familiar with his music, you have your homework assignment. Go explore it, and you'll find a dozen or so gems amongst the rubble of 30 years.
To hear Lust For Life on a TV commercial is a huge tribute to Iggy's long struggle. He's earned it. To me, Lust For Life is the perfect Alternative Music anthem.
Maybe I'll take that cruise.

©2004 Stiffy Biceptz

All material ©2001-2014 Sean Carolan, except as noted.


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