Iggy Pop: Instinct - Album Of The Week Club review

After the chart success of Real Wild Child, Iggy Pop changed tack and came back with Instinct , a chest-thumping pile of meat ’n’ potatoes metal

Iggy Pop: Instinct cover art
(Image: © A&M Records)

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Iggy Pop: Instinct

Iggy Pop: Instinct cover art

(Image credit: A&M Records)

Cold Metal
High on You
Strong Girl
Tom Tom
Easy Rider
Power & Freedom
Lowdown
Instinct
Tuff Baby
Squarehead

Although with Real Wild Child (from 1986’s Blah Blah Blah album) Iggy Pop had tasted mainstream success for the first time in years, his safe-as-milk new image and his art-poppy new songs had strayed so far away from the rabid Stooge of old that he jettisoned the squarehead routine completely, and came roaring back a year later with this chest-thumping pile of meat ’n’ potatoes metal.

Instinct was Iggy’s hardest album in a decade, a bruising clamour of slamming power chords and cold metal. With a crack band that included ex-Pistols guitarist Steve Jones, Iggy easily reclaimed his role as a gleefully vicious thug run riot. He got Jones to crank out some seriously ugly guitar on that album and even co-wrote a few of the songs, including the gloriously snotty rebel anthem Squarehead

It was the victorious roar of the godfather of punk and his snarliest illegitimate offspring reigniting the fire in their bellies with spit and swagger and Circus of Power riffs. 

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Other albums released in June 1988

  • Britny Fox - Britny Fox
  • Sur la Mer - The Moody Blues
  • Small World - Huey Lewis and the News
  • In Battle There Is No Law - Bolt Thrower
  • Ain't Complaining - Status Quo
  • Survive - Nuclear Assault
  • Open All Night - The Georgia Satellites
  • Outrider - Jimmy Page
  • Chicago 19 - Chicago
  • Destiny - Saxon
  • Roll with It - Steve Winwood
  • Power Metal - Pantera
  • Reg Strikes Back - Elton John
  • Eternal Nightmare - Vio-lence
  • Outside the Gate - Killing Joke
  • In God We Trust - Stryper
  • Dimension Hatröss - Voivod
  • Dream of Life - Patti Smith
  • Y Kant Tori Read - Y Kant Tori Read

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What they said...

"Though Iggy's in strong voice here, he appears to still be working his way through the formulaic lyrical mind set of Blah Blah Blah – Iggy doesn't seem to have much to say, and few interesting ways of saying it. While the first and last cuts on Instinct are enjoyable, most of what's in between is surprisingly faceless hard rock; it's a competent, well-crafted album, but the most dangerous man in rock'n'roll ought to be able to come up with a bit more than that." (AllMusic (opens in new tab))

"As good as Instinct is – it’s as close as the drug-free Eighties Iggy has come to revving up the vintage violence – it isn’t quite good enough. There’s too much bash and not enough slash in Bill Laswell’s kill-joy production; he turns the brass-knuckle guitar of ex-Sex Pistol Steve Jones into a standard heavy-metal roar." (Rolling Stone (opens in new tab)

"Twixt the thematic if hardly definitive Cold Metal and the humorous if hardly hilarious Squarehead, Mr. Big Dick makes like the gargoyle he is, crooning in his ghastly Vaughan Monroe baritone when he isn't asserting his tenuous connection with HM, which whatever its offences is at least popular, and punk, which whatever its offences is at least arty. If Bowie can't save him and Laswell can't save him, maybe he gone." (Robert Christgau (opens in new tab))

Alt

What you said...

Mike Canoe: Iggy Pop is a brilliant, funny, dynamic, insightful, and perennially underrated artist who has been my favourite performer for more than 30 years. Unfortunately, signs of the first four attributes are mostly absent from Instinct, which goes a long way in explaining the fifth one.

Like anyone with a long discography (almost 20 solo studio albums so far), Iggy's back catalog is going to have some dogs, but Instinct lacks both bark and bite. The songs are Iggy's usual topics like exotic girls and doing your own thing but they lack both humorous insight in the lyrics and potency in the delivery. The song structures are very generic "This is '80's Rock." It feels like he saw former goth punks The Cult break open the hard rock treasure chest with Electric, and thought "I can do that." But Steve Jones is no Billy Duffy and Bill Laswell is no Rick Rubin.

The title track, High on You, and Tuff Baby are the only songs I like and I wouldn't consider any of them essential Iggy Pop songs. Iggy seems to make his next album in reaction to his last one - this time it was the Bowie-guided Blah-Blah-Blah. On the bright side, Instinct was followed by the one-two punch of Brick By Brick and American Caesar, two of his best albums.

If this is your first time listening to a solo Iggy Pop album, I exhort you to listen to the above two, or Avenue B, or The Idiot, or Lust for Life, or even the album of torch songs sung in French, because at least that was an interesting detour.

In the 2014 tear-jerker, If I Stay, the main character's little brother chants that he wants to hear Iggy Pop. His father replies with this inexecrable dialogue, "Teddy, you can listen to Iggy on your iPod. But nothing after 1978. You understand me, young man?" While Instinct isn't directly responsible for that wrongheaded crap, it sure doesn't help.

Withnail Montague: Really like Instinct. First saw him on this tour in Dublin back in the day.

Adam Ranger: I do like this album, maybe because it brings to mind some good times in my life. Saw Iggy live a few times around this album release. Great gigs.

But what is it like musically?

Very different to it's predecessor Blah Blah Blah, his last collaboration with Bowie. Everything from the in your face comic book like cover to the opening riff of cold metal. It's less refined and perhaps more fun than Blah Blah Blah.

Most songs follow the same formula, great riff and drum beats. Some of the lyrics are not the greatest, but that's OK. Squarehead and Lowdown are my picks from the album but I also really like Instinct.

His follow up Brick By Brick was a cross between Blah Blah Blah and Instinct and was, in truth, a better record. Like Bowie, Iggy Pop rarely stands still. But Instinct is fun, if a little dated now, and will always hold fond memories for me

Chris Elliott: Average. It has its moments, but you really would never choose this if you wanted to hear Iggy. It just gathers dust.

Andrew Cumming: Really like this album. It was part of Iggy's comeback to form and prominence after Real Wild Child got things going again for him. Instinct is pretty one dimensional but it’s fun and sounds really good. And Cold Metal is a stone cold classic.

Kaa Gee Walsh: I like this album. I caught Iggy & his band on this tour. It was a great show.

Keith Jenkin: Love Bill Laswell's production on this one, and Jonesy offers up some of his best riffs since his days in The Pistols. Some of the songwriting isn't consistently the greatest, but I thought the material sounded really great live when I caught the tour for the album in Exeter. As an aside, Kerrang! ran a competition shortly after release for Iggy's Live At The Channel promo album, of which I was one of the winners. That album still has a treasured place in the collection.

Geir Egil Dahle Øien: Cold Metal and Lowdown are standouts to me.

Brett Deighton: I just listened to Iggy’s new single and maybe that was a mistake before giving this a spin. It just sounded so dated. I felt like it could have been a Billy Idol album, albeit not a great one. Glad others are liking it, but i don’t see me rushing to play this one again. Love the new single though.

Alt

Final score: 7.08 (48 votes cast, total score 340)

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