Iggy Pop & Underworld
Teatime Dub Encounters ep
Back in 1996, Iggy’s ‘Lust for Life’ opened up the absolutely brilliant Trainspotting soundtrack, whilst the other book end was occupied by Underworld’s amazing ‘Born Slippy NUXX.’ It wouldn’t be an understatement to declare that that track set Underworld on a new course, both musically and in terms of fame, especially in North America. And there they were again on Trainspotting 2‘s soundtrack last year. Teatime Dub Encounters literally arises from tea time, and a chance encounter between Underworld’s Rick Smith and Carl Hyde and Pop in London.
Recorded in the wake of both Underworld’s (criminally under-rated) last album, Barbara, Barbara, we face a shining future and Pop’s Post Pop Depression, this ep seems more a means to work out a few more ideas than a full-on collab. Musically, this plays to Underworld’s sound, ethereal sounds, big beats, and occasional big sounds. Hyde’s voice, though, is reduced to the background, which is kind of unfortunate as he is as much Underworld as Smith’s beats. As for Pop, he is larger than life. Because he’s Iggy Fucking Pop.
Over four tracks, Pop alternates from singing and speaking, sounding at times like he did with the Stooges 40-some-odd years ago and sometimes like the septugenarian he is. But he’s still Iggy Pop. The first track, ‘Bells & Circles,’ is classic Underworld, all menace and beats, but Pop takes off, not Hyde. Iggy recounts ‘the golden age of flying,’ about smoking on planes, picking up flight attendants, doing shit tonnes of coke, and Fidel Castro’s business of ransoming highjacked planes back to American airline companies, amidst a general lament that ‘you can’t do that,’ have fun (or at least what Iggy Pop calls fun. He finishes off with some Big Statements: ‘No More Rock Critics.’ ‘No More!’ ‘European ideals are…good and bad.’ And he opines that ‘only a vengeful God does not allow smoking on airplanes.’ You can hear him laughing in the studio.
This has to be one of the most compelling Underworld tracks of late. ‘I’ll See Big’ is the oddity here, as Pop reminiscences about making it in the world, and talks about his friends, whom he laughingly admits aren’t really good people. The final track, the tongue-in-cheek ‘Get Your Shirt,’ well we’re talking Iggy Pop. When I finally got around to watching Jim Jarmusch’s horribly disappointing documentary on the Stooges, Gimme Danger, it seemed weird to see Mr. Osterberg fully clothed.
On the whole, the good outweighs the bad here, and it’s kinda neat to get an inside view of an attempt to work out ideas on the part of three veteran, still-envelope-pushing artists.
Teatime Dub Encounters is out on Friday, 27 July.