Iggy Pop - vocals, guitar; Seamus Beachen - keyboards; Alvin Gibbs - bass; Paul Garisto - drums; Andy McCoy - guitar
Recorded at the Channel in Boston on his 1988 Instinct tour, Iggy Pop had cranked it back up again for this LP and concert trek, after cutting a relatively mellow previous album with David Bowie. For Instinct, Iggy Pop, recognized as bona fide Godfather of Punk since his days with The Stooges, decided to move deep into hard rock and metal. For the trip, Pop brought along Sex Pistols guitarist Steve Jones and producer Bill Laswell (whose studio work ranged from Nona Hendryx to Johnny Lydon and Public Image).
Featuring the most radio friendly metal heard in a long time, Instinct was the record A&M Records, his label, thought would exploit the momentum built with 1987's Blah Blah Blah, his acclaimed comeback record and collaboration with Bowie (who had enjoyed huge success with the Bowie/Pop co-authored hit, "China Girl.") Iggy Pop and David Bowie's relationship had gone back many years. Iggy (whose real name is James Osterberg) was even busted once with Bowie for drug possession in Rochester, N.Y., while they traveled together on Bowie's Station to Station tour in 1976. Bowie has often mentioned the profound influence Iggy has had on him, even going as far as to write "Jean Genie" as a tribute.
While Bowie was just making his start in the music business in the late-1960s, Iggy was making rock 'n' roll headlines for himself by smashing broken glass into his chest and bleeding profusely onstage with his band, The Stooges. By 1972, Iggy and The Stooges, and their form of primitive punk, were close to collapse, when Bowie, now enjoying a period of commercial and critical prosperity, decided to help out. He brought the wildly unpredictable Mr. Pop to the attention of his then manager, Tony DeFries and his Mainman Organization. Although Mainman had done wonders for Bowie (the two would later split in a bitter dispute), they had no idea what to do with this spunky Detroit kid who seemed the greatest outrage rock had ever seen.
"It was a real nightmare; a real mess," says Pop of his association with Mainman, "though that had nothing to do with David." Bowie, and his guitarist Mick Ronson, helped Pop and a new version of The Stooges record a now classic rock LP called Raw Power. With its razor sharp guitar riffs and pulsating rhythms, it was not only The Stooges finest effort, but also their swansong.
"I loved that album, but Mainman didn't and I had to fight real hard just to get it out. It was not the kind of record a Mainman artist should put out, so they kind of were determined to bury me fairly early on. I got involved with them because I desperately needed someone to back a Stooges project and it didn't look like anyone was going to be nuts enough to do so," says Pop, breaking into a laugh. "They had been hoping to pick up this colorful American artist and re-package me into their image, which was sort of a sophisticated Euro-New York thing. They weren't sophisticated at all; they were just a bunch of superficial, silly people."
It took years for Pop to settle with Mainman and gain some artistic freedom. In 1977, Bowie and Pop reunited and began working together in Berlin. The two of them collaborated on each other's albums and Bowie got Pop a deal with RCA, with whom he produced his two subsequent albums. One of those contained the original version of "China Girl," a song which, in 1983, would become Bowie's biggest hit. Bowie even toured as keyboard player for Pop during his '77 tour, of which a recording is available at the Concert Vault.
By the early 1980s, Pop had hit rock bottom. Years of abuse had taken its toll on his health, his personal life was in disarray, and professionally he was being buried in a mess of legal and financial problems. It was then that Iggy Pop decided it was time to grow up. "Right around that time things were bottoming out. I was forced to come to grips with how unhappy I had become and how near I was to being programmed into one of those people I had always despised. I was becoming one more cliche. I was determined that I had to change, and I began to take steps to do so. Sometimes you get in a rut and sometimes you get out. I got out."
After cleaning himself up, Pop dropped out of music for a while and began taking acting lessons. The road that followed was not an easy one, but it did teach him self-discipline and responsibility. "I learned how to stand in line at the bank and how to keep the landlady happy. I learned to vacuum the house and take the garbage out. All stuff that I never use to do. I used to think that was not what an artist did, but it is what an artist does if he wants to keep his feet on the ground."
Bowie again intervened, and helped get Pop signed to A&M. For Instinct, he moved over to collaborate with Jones. This show, recorded for the King Biscuit Flower Hour, also features a healthy dose of songs from his Iggy and The Stooges period, including "1969," "Search and Destroy" and "I Wanna Be Your Dog."