Editor’s Note: The Albumism staff has selected what we believe to be 50 fantastic first solo albums recorded by artists who departed—or simply took a temporary hiatus from—their respective groups, representing a varied cross-section of genres, styles and time periods. Click “Next Album” below to explore each album or view the full album index here.
IGGY POP | The Idiot
Selected by Chris Powers
Iggy Pop is the living embodiment of all things dangerous and cool about rock & roll. A captivating and charismatic frontman, he not only created music with The Stooges that was more wild and tough than any rock music being produced at the time, but channeled that energy with unhinged and self-destructive on-stage performances. He was a man who lived right at the point where humanity becomes animalistic, and people were hooked. One of these devotees ended up being an at-the-prime-of-his-career David Bowie, who took Pop on as a protégé and helped him write and produce his debut album, The Idiot.
While most solo debut albums are chances for the artist to launch their singular vision of their art onto the world, The Idiot ended up being an important touchstone for both Pop and Bowie’s careers going forward. The album marked Pop’s return as a recording artist after The Stooges’ explosion and his struggles with drugs, and showcased the depravity of his world in a way different than through the punk rock noise of his past life.
While Pop was a howling and wild beast on the previous Stooges records, The Idiot shows him sharing his perverse desires through deeper and more focused crooning. Songs like “Sister Midnight” feel incredibly intimate, like he is sharing these lyrics with you while he has you in a close embrace. As for Bowie, he used this partnership to begin exploring the dark and funky sounds that would later end up being the foundation to his acclaimed Berlin trilogy of albums. The result was a rock album where the guitars would predominantly exist just to add an exclamation point to the dark pop sounds that would be shrouding Iggy’s cool baritone voice. “Funtime” is the most extreme version of this direction, as we experience a dance track that borders on nightmarish.
While The Idiot may not represent the punk rock mayhem that Iggy Pop is typically known for, it thoroughly captures his magnetism as one of rock & roll’s greatest frontmen and songwriters. Additionally, this album is an integral piece of David Bowie’s expansive discography and represents him at one of his creative peaks.