Wednesday, October 12, 2011

38. Iggy Pop, "Five Foot One" (1979)


Iggy's 1979 New Values was way high on my list of favorites of that year even if it is somewhat uneven. With horns and the band tight as can be and Iggy's various improvs, whether they work or not, carefully preserved in the pristine rock amber of the precise, dusky production by James Williamson, it works a lot of the time. The title song avails of this aesthetic too and to varying degrees other songs here, "Tell Me a Story," "Girls," "I'm Bored" (a candidate at #138), "Billy Is a Runaway." But the sound is nowhere more put together than on this five-minute display of wanton modulated chamber-rock. Everything from the heartbeat bass to the tidy drumkit to the rolling waves of the horn charts and electric guitars and Iggy's goofs off all of it—studied, and thus vaguely abstracted and distanced, but compensating with a surprising good humor that is lusty and alive, and a band that is rocking, rocking. No one but Iggy Pop is capable of such stunts. Here he is out front making jokes about a short-guy complex; at an actual height of just a shade under 5'-8" it's something Iggy is not likely unfamiliar with, one of the reasons he can make it work so effectively. The scenario is funny too, a guy working at an amusement park and hot for some. "With a bottle of aspirin and a sackful of jokes / I wish I could go home with all the big folks," he declares outright. "I wish life could be Swedish magazines." At that point the song's about opened up wide and working on open cylinders like a mighty machine or intricate household appliance. You can dance to it if you want. "I won't grow any more any more any more," he finally concedes as the noise envelops him.