The triumphant return of rock legend Iggy Pop along with the rock ‘n’ roll soundtrack to HBO’s Vinyl, whose first season recently came to a close, has us longing for the gritty and glamorous days of punk rock past. New York City in the 1960s and 1970s served both as the dirty stomping grounds for many emerging rock artists and as the platform for incredibly important social issues, all of which was reflected in the music. From the crumbling underground rock clubs and their graffiti-ed bathrooms to the glam pioneers, here are three tracks that help hearken back to CBGB and Max’s Kansas City.
“In The Lobby” – Iggy Pop
With some of the greatest musicians in modern rock as his backing band (Joshua Homme and Dean Fertita of Queens Of The Stone Age, and Matt Helders of Arctic Monkeys), Iggy delivers more slinky grooves and his classic attitude. If anything, Post Pop Depression is an ode to Iggy’s former self as well as the many icons of rock past, especially the late David Bowie whose influence shines bright throughout the record. Post Pop Depression shows Iggy contemplating his legacy, but also adding to it at the same time. And judging from recent interviews, this could very well be Iggy Pop’s last contribution to that legacy, with a sense of tiredness and finality in these songs. But if the live shows in support of this release are any indication, Iggy’s still as energetic (and shirtless) as ever.
“White Light, White Heat (Rock and Roll Animal live era version)” – Julian Casablancas
Strokes frontman Julian Casablancas took on legendary rock icon Lou Reed for HBO’s Vinyl, covering Reed’s solo live cover of The Velvet Underground‘s “White Light, White Heat”. As Ed Ward of Rolling Stone wrote, “the mean wisecracks and impassioned cynicism informed Reed’s work” and certainly shaped the attitude of the times. This blistering track and Vinyl lead character Richie Finestra capture everything about New York in the ’60s and ’70s – drugs, sex, & rock and roll.
“Trash” – New York Dolls
The New York Dolls were at the forefront of the glam movement with an androgynous and sequined style fed through a punk “personality crisis.” “Trash” may or may not literally refer to the labor strike in New York City in the late 1960s, when piles of unattended trash piled up in the streets and eventually caught fire. In Vinyl, a dreamy sequence shows the band literally bringing down a building with their music, which isn’t too hard to believe considering how literally powerful their sound (and legacy) would be.