23 Years Ago: Iggy Pop’s ‘Brick By Brick’ Album Released
When we think of Iggy Pop, we see that picture of him with his eyes wild, hair disheveled and chest sliced up. That was back when he was leading the Stooges, positively one of the most over-the-top rock bands of all time.
We also think of Iggy as the lyricist behind ‘Lust for Life,’ a rare sort of song fit for both Royal Caribbean cruise ads and the drug flick ‘Trainspotting.’ Obviously, there’s a commercial side to what he does, and while the grizzled, over-tanned, muscular singer has never been a real front-and-center superstar, he’s enjoyed a sort of cult following since the early days.
The 1990 album ‘Brick By Brick’ — which turns 23 years old today — is more the pop Pop. Big-time producer Don Was — who’s worked with the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan and just about anyone who’s anyone — helmed the project, and Iggy enlisted some high-profile (for the time) cameos, most notably Slash and Duff McKagan from Guns N’ Roses, then at the height of their popularity.
What’s more, the album included a certifiable radio and MTV hit, ‘Candy,’ which shows off Pop’s Bowie-esque, weather-tossed baritone. His voice mixes surprisingly well with guest vocalist Kate Pierson’s retro warble. (Was had worked with Pierson’s band the B-52’s the previous year on their comeback hit ‘Cosmic Thing’). Oddly, ‘Candy’ is a mix of spoken-word poetry and sung choruses, Iggy playing the part of a brooding ex-lover, Pierson taking on the titular role. It’s sort of a proto-‘Somebody That I Used to Know.’
In true Iggy Pop fashion, the album pushes the sexual limits with songs like ‘Butt Town’ (which has a conscience and is marred only by its butt-ugly title); the title track, in which he warns “so get off my dick”; the rather self-explanatory ‘Pussy Power’; and a handful of other tunes boasting explicit lyrics.
Remember, this was 1990 — still a year or so away from Nirvana and the grunge movement. It was still OK to loudly chide authority and drop swear words in the name of art. It was also the era of the Parents Music Resource Center (PMRC), which singled out albums for their apparent poor taste and slapped ’em with warning labels. Luckily, this one avoided their poisonous tentacles and reached No. 90 on the Billboard 200 — Iggy’s best showing since ‘Blah Blah Blah’ in 1986. None of his subsequent records have fared better on the charts, though his abs remain very much intact.