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Lust for Life is a 1977 album by Iggy Pop, his second solo release and his second collaboration with David Bowie, following The Idiot earlier in the year. As well as achieving critical success, it was Pop's most commercially popular album to date, and remains his highest-charting release in the UKmarker. The title track gained further exposure two decades later when it was featured on the soundtrack of the film Trainspotting (1996).

Production

The Lust for Life sessions took place soon after the completion of a concert tour in support of the The Idiot album, the tour ending on 16 April 1977. Pop has stated, "David and I had determined that we would record that album very quickly, which we wrote, recorded, and mixed in eight days, and because we had done it so quickly, we had a lot of money left over from the advance, which we split." The singer slept little during its making, commenting "See, Bowie's a hell of a fast guy... I realized I had to be quicker than him, otherwise whose album was it gonna be?" Pop's spontaneous lyrical method inspired Bowie to improvise his own words on his next project, "Heroes".

Bowie, Pop and engineer Colin Thurston produced Lust for Life under the pseudonym "Bewlay Bros." (name via the final track on Bowie’s Hunky Dory). The recording was made at Hansa Studio by the Wallmarker in Berlinmarker and featured Ricky Gardiner and Carlos Alomar on guitars with Hunt and Tony Sales on drums and bass, respectively. With Bowie on keyboards and backing vocals, the team included three-quarters of the future Tin Machine line-up; the Sales brothers’ "gale-force" contribution to this album led Bowie to invite them to join his new band twelve years later ("Check out Lust For Life," he told guitarist Reeves Gabrels, "I’ve found the rhythm section!"). The sleeve photo was taken by Andy Kent, who also shot the cover for The Idiot.

Style and themes

Lust for Life is generally considered to be more of an Iggy Pop record than the Bowie-dominated The Idiot, being less experimental musically and having more of a rock and roll flavor. However some of its themes were similarly dark, as in "The Passenger", cited by NME editors Roy Carr and Charles Shaar Murray as one of Pop’s "most haunting" tracks, and "Tonight" and "Turn Blue", both of which dealt with heroin abuse. In contrast were more upbeat songs such as "Success" and "Lust for Life", the latter described by Rolling Stone as Pop's "survivor message to the masses".

According to Iggy Pop, Bowie's celebrated riff on "Lust for Life" was inspired by the morse code opening to the American Forces Network News in Berlin. At various points in the song the melody is doubled by the entire band; in Carlos Alomar's words, "You can’t play a counter-rhythm to that, you just had to follow". Joy Division and New Order drummer Stephen Morris declared, "On Lust For Life the drums sound not huge but massive! The loudest cymbals known to man, that riff! I wanted to sound like that, still do."

"The Passenger" was inspired by a Jim Morrison poem that saw "modern life as a journey by car". The lyrics have also been interpreted as "Iggy's knowing commentary on Bowie's cultural vampirism". The music, a "laid-back ... springy groove", was composed by guitarist Ricky Gardiner. It was released as the B-side of the album's only single, "Success". Characterized by Allmusic as "a glorious throwaway" and by Rolling Stone as "an infectious throwaway", "Success" was a light-hearted track of the call and response variety.

"Turn Blue", at just under seven minutes the longest song on the album, was a sprawling confessional that dated back to an abortive recording session by Bowie and Pop in May 1975, when the latter was in the depths of his drug addiction. Originally titled "Moving On", it was composed by Bowie, Pop, Walter Lacey and Warren Peace. It was the only set of lyrics that did not appear on the original vinyl record sleeve. The album's remaining tracks included "Sixteen", the only piece written entirely by Iggy Pop, "Some Weird Sin", a hard rock number featuring a "lost-boy lyric", the "neo-punk" "Neighborhood Threat", and "Fall in Love with Me", which grew from an impromptu jam by the band to which Pop composed lyrics apparently evoking his then-flame, Esther Friedmann.

Release and reception

Lust for Life reached #28 in the UK Albums Chart and is still his highest-performing release in that country. Initially the album sold well in the USmarker but the death of Elvis Presley caused RCA to quickly reissue Presley's catalogue and any promotional focus for Pop's album was lost. It eventually performed well in America, but only peaked at #120 on the Billboard charts at the time of release. Rolling Stone's contemporary review considered that "purely on its own terms, Lust for Life is a successful album" but complained that Pop's "new stance is so utterly unchallenging and cautious". "Success", backed with "The Passenger", was released as a single on 30 September 1977.

Covers and live versions

"Lust for Life" and "Sixteen" appeared the following year on the live set TV Eye. Bowie covered "Tonight" (minus the opening lines referencing drugs) with Tina Turner, along with "Neighborhood Threat", on his 1984 release Tonight. "The Passenger" has been performed by Nick Cave, Bauhaus, The Lunachicks, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Michael Hutchence (on the Batman Forever soundtrack), amongst others (Brazilian band Capital Inicial has recorded a version in Portuguese which is called "O Passageiro"). Duran Duran covered "Success" on the faves collection Thank You. "Lust For Life" has been played by many artists including Yo La Tengo, The Damned, The Smithereens, Tom Jones and The Pretenders, and David Bowie live, and is used as bumper music on The Jim Rome Show; it is also used as the theme music for the ongoing advertising campaign for Royal Caribbean International. Its distinctive riff is commonly cited as inspiring Australian band Jet in 2003 for their song "Are You Gonna Be My Girl?", while the drum riff was sampled by Welsh band the Manic Street Preachers for the outro of their single "You Love Us" and by Scottish band Travis for the intro to their single "Selfish Jean".

Track listing

All lyrics written by Iggy Pop except where noted.
  1. "Lust for Life" – 5:13 (music: David Bowie)
  2. "Sixteen" – 2:26 (music: Pop)
  3. "Some Weird Sin" – 3:42 (music: Bowie)
  4. "The Passenger" – 4:44 (music: Ricky Gardiner)
  5. "Tonight" – 3:39 (music: Bowie)
  6. "Success" – 4:25 (music: Bowie, Gardiner)
  7. "Turn Blue" – 6:56 (lyrics: Pop, Walter Lacey, music: Bowie, Warren Peace)
  8. "Neighborhood Threat" – 3:25 (music: Bowie, Gardiner)
  9. "Fall in Love with Me" – 6:30 (music: Bowie, Hunt Sales, Tony Sales)


Personnel



Notes


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