Iggy Pop – The Bowie Years (Box Set Review)

Iggy Pop – The Bowie Years (Box Set Review)

Iggy Pop is one of the most unique performers around. Called the ‘Godfather of Punk’ from his time as the vocalist/lyricist of the Stooges, following their demise, he was left find himself again. A time for change in Pop’s creative career and personal life, he would move to West Berlin with his good friend David Bowie to being work on his debut solo album. The result was 1977’s The Idiot, an album featuring Bowie as producer and co-songwriter. Different from anything he had done a part of the Stooges, quickly Pop and Bowie got to work yet again and released Lust for Life in 1978; his most successful solo album to date. 

Two albums that defined a new era for Pop, now they are a part of a massive 7-CD box set entitled The Bowie Years which is unleashed Friday, June 12, 2020 via UMe. A set which features a remastered edition of both The Idiot and Lust For Life, it also includes the 1978 live album TV Eye, rare outtakes, alternative mixes, more live material, plus a 40-page book. Additionally, The Idiot and Lust For Life also receive a standalone 2-CD Deluxe Edition release including bonus live CDs. 

A lot to digest, those who fancy themselves fans of Pop and or Bowie are well acquainted with these two privatol albums. The Idiot laid the groundwork for a new sound for Pop that experimented with electronic, soul, among other sounds. Vastly different than his Punk days with the Stooges, on the other hand, Lust for Life saw Pop and Bowie switch it up to more Rock-n-Roll, driven by guitars and upbeat temp. In the end the albums are like two siblings who are alike, but extremely unique to one another. 

This all in mind, The Bowie Years box set takes these two albums and puts them back to back so you can sit down, listen, and witness the progression of Pop in one sitting. A rather cool experience, the remastered production is subtle, but crispy without taking away from the original editions. This, on top of the live albums, TV Eye which recorded during the 1977 tour in Cleveland, Chicago and Kansas City featuring Bowie on keyboards, there are also 3 other CDs of live recordings from March 1977. Important to note, these additional live recordings are officially being released for the first time, and include Live at The Rainbow Theatre, London, Live at The Agora, Cleveland as well as Live at Mantra Studio, Chicago. A mix of great Pop/Bowie cuts, the rawness and energy add more understanding and texture to what the two were inventing at the time. 

Which leads us to the 40-page book which is complete with some nice visuals and successfully give insight to the Iggy Pop and David Bowie co-creative years. It gives you interesting information about the making of Idiot, plus contributions from the musicians who actually played on the records as well as more famous fans discussing the influence these albums had on them. 

Overall, The Bowie Years is a really great box set that is well put together, fun to listen to, and provides a bit of an education. Available to dig into digitally, if you have the means, it is recommended to actually pick up the physical 7-CD box set, because in truth, that is the best way to enjoy something like that. A set for the avid fan or someone who wants to teach themselves about the history of a great period of music, Cryptic Rock gives The Bowie Years set 5 out of 5 stars. 


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