At the time of its release, in 1977, this album was a mystery to me. The cover was minimal and no musician credits, except the name "David Bowie" had appeared on its back cover. Beyond that, I really didn't have a clue what the music would be like. I knew of the Stooges, but I couldn't really imagine Bowie in the mix for some odd reason. And I knew he mixed the great "Raw Power" album, but still, what would new Bowie/Iggy music be like?
Once I heard the album I came to the conclusion that this is very much an original piece of work. Not sure if it was more Bowie than Iggy or the other way around, but the combination of the two made something new to my ears. I got the feeling that the music was made in a small room without windows. Very thick and dense sounding. The lyrics, on the other hand, were total Iggy to me. Pop has that great quality of skill to make every lyric sound like a throw-away piece of work. Which is part of his genius and charm. First thought is the best thought. Or does Iggy spend a great deal of time working on the lyrics? I don't know. What I do know is that he's naturally brilliant. "Nightclubbing" and "Funtime" are brilliant pieces of work. "China Girl" is funny but also disturbing under the Iggy version, and the way he drops Marlon Brando's name in the mix was shocking to me at that time.
My favorite song on the album is "Tiny Girl." I love the long introduction with what I presume is Bowie's sax playing, and then Iggy drops in with this incredible lyric and resigned style of singing. I find it brutally romantic. Listening to it now I still think back when I first heard the album. It still sounds fresh and demented at the same time. "Lust for Life" is a great Iggy/Bowie album as well, but "The Idiot" is something special. Once in a lifetime recording. It can't be done again. As they say, it is capturing lightning in a jar. How many times can one do that?
With respect to this reissue, it seems the sound came from Virgin Records mastering of the CD. To me it sounds fine, but of course one would want a reissue to come from the original analog tapes. Why that didn't happen could be economic reasons or maybe the tape doesn't exist? Nevertheless, this album works on very medium.