The Idiot

Not Rated

Iggy Pop has always been the greatest rock comedian. As leader and frontispiece for that most extreme wing of rock nihilism represented by the Stooges, he at once defined and ridiculed the options left to punk rockers after "My Generation." The nihilist attitude meant plenty when it was a reaction to the pop status quo best exemplified by Dick Clark, but once nihilism itself became the status quo it was trivialized into mere decadence, a fashionable synonym for boredom.

Iggy's criticism is a brilliant, if depressing, argument in defense of that much debated assertion that rock is dead. The Idiot, recorded by Bowie, sung in a tired growl excoriated from Jim Morrison via Ray Manzarek, and steeped in the so-called "minimalist" ambiance currently so fashionable among young bands who've spent too much time listening to Iggy and taking him seriously, is the most savage indictment of rock posturing ever recorded.

Iggy's point, of course, is that rock is better off dead, but his is not the sentimental, transcendental approach to death. The Idiot is, on the contrary, a necrophiliac's delight, and Pop's next move may well go beyond fleshtearing into live barbecue.

From The Archives Issue 658: June 10, 1993