Bowie Collaborations: “Sister Midnight”

I bought the Iggy Pop anthology ” A Million in Prizes” a few years back.  I wanted a good introduction to his career, and I only had the Stooges albums at that point.  The only solo song I knew by Iggy was “Lust for Life”, which I loved.  I expected most of the set to be hard rock, and in the vein of either “Lust for Life” or the Stooges.

The last thing I expected to hear on this set was electronic, Kraftwerk-inspired, sounding funk.  Pop sang into a distorted almost, monotone voice, that recalled little of his Stooges’ days. With any given Stooges song, you felt as if the earth might fall beneath you.  Anything could happen. “Sister Midnight” on the other hand, was tied together tightly, and well constructed.  Yet, the song gave Iggy enough room to breathe something that was rare in a Stooges’ song.  (The only major exception is “We Will Fall”,  a slow-burn of a song, but not representative of the band’s output.)

Bowie co-wrote The Idiot (on which “Sister Midnight”appears) with Pop.  The Idiot is generally regarded as one of Pop’s best albums, and would have an enormous influence on punk and post-punk.  The Edge has cited it as major influence in interviews, and Ian Curtis of Joy Division was found dead with The Idiot spinning on his turn-table.

For Bowie, this collaboration was important in many ways.  Having been strung out on coke during the making of his last album, Station to Station, Bowie moved to Berlin with Pop to begin work on The Idiot, and its follow-up Lust for Life, and what would become known for Bowie as the Berlin Trilogy. Taking the helm for The Idiot, allowed Bowie to experiment and find out what sounds he wanted for his own albums.  As Bowie himself says about The Idiot:

Poor Jim, in a way, became a guinea pig for what I wanted to do with sound. I didn’t have the material at the time, and I didn’t feel like writing at all. I felt much more like laying back and getting behind someone else’s work, so that album was opportune, creatively.




“Sister Midnight”:







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2 responses to “Bowie Collaborations: “Sister Midnight”

  1. pete satterfield

    mach schau mach schau…what koschmider said to the beatles at club indra in hamburg 1960. translated means make show. exactly what the beatles did after that. maybe thats what bowie and queen were doing in 1981. really? what was going on in 1981. rock was stagnant. mainstream was dying. it needed a kick in the balls,not the big balls like ac/dc. but just a kick. rock is a show. at least a good portion of it is. queen did just that. being great musicians they decided to do just that. its a show. the same as glam rock. bowie was no stranger to nor t rex. hell he was just a jeepster anyway. this isnt rocknroll this genocide.
    what was going on in 1981 not much. john lennon was dead. even his last album double fantasy wasnt that good. if he hadnt died it wouldnt have sold like it did. it was bland. nothing like he had done in the past with his sharp wit and edgey material. kind of a later eric clapton puke after his son fell out a window…tears in heaven indeed..more like tears on an fm radio station.
    under preasure is pretty decent considering what was out there on mainstream. areosmith was cranking out the usual trash..led zep was done…van the man couldnt live up to his past(he was too fat) styx was on the radio(god know’s why?) the cure stalled out with three imaginary boys paul mccarntney was busted for pot, just another publicity stunt to promote paul mccartneyII sorry album it was. post punk was good. the clash had some redeeming work, while the who took a big dump. tom petty was there but so were the byrds thanks to him. yes 1981 not so good. so maybe under preassure isnt so bad. hell i had a 45 of it. maybe it was my sister jane or my brother sean who got it im not sure.
    so not much to compare it to unless you look at what was not being played on the radio. talking heads, the clash, u2, bowie?(dancing with the big boys..what the hell was that?) i think under preasure is great. bass line so good it carries the whole song. much like rem’s “low” or some early work of elvis costello, who may have saved the 80’s altogether, but thats a different story altogether now. anyway in spring 1981 r.e.m walked into mitch easter’s drive in and soon mainstream would give birth to alternative. and that became the blanket term for anything that wasnt pop or mainstream or hall &oats…..good job matt im proud all the music that you heard me listening to years ago made a mark on you. god be praised.

    • Thanks for the comment Pete. Weren’t Talking Heads on the radio at that point? I could be mistaken. I just never understood the fascination with Queen. Maybe I had to live during the time, I don’t know. I think Freddie Mercury was a good front-man, too bad his songs weren’t better.

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