February 14, 2012

Hideaway (live, 1988).

Much of Blah-Blah-Blah is a man trying to stand still for once in his life, shoring up what he has left, and the backdrop is kept vague—an apartment in a city somewhere, with a TV flickering in the corner. But once in a while Iggy Pop turns and watches the set, first with irritation, then becoming consumed with disgust and fear. The title track finds Pop ranting in front of his television, cursing everything that’s hurled at him, while “Hideaway” finds him at his limit, considering fleeing into Mexico.

So “Hideaway” is another of the album’s pledges of commitment and renewal, driven here by the shopworn hope that love will serve as a makeshift refuge from an awful world. The lyric moves from an opening lament about how “big industry” has blighted the earth to Pop’s realization that he’s been complicit in the ruin—the last verse, which Pop sings supported only by an unchanging synth line and the Linn Drum, finds him pledging that he won’t waste the one resource he has left. (Try to ignore the cliché-infested bridge, where Pop is moved upon hearing children’s voices). It comes down to a typical Pop aphorism: “They say, ‘So what?’/I say, ‘So this.’

Anchored on the Linn, a run of parrying riffs on keyboard by Erdal Kizilcay and Kevin Armstrong’s over-busy guitar (there’s a hint of Roy Orbison’s “Running Scared” in his main riff), “Hideaway” builds to a simple, stone-solid melody–only eight sung notes in 12 bars—in its chorus, with Bowie again heard in the backing choir. With songs like this as album cuts, Blah really was the great lost classic rock record: it could’ve dominated AOR radio in the late Eighties as much as, say, Back in the High Life did.

Recorded late April-May 1986, Mountain Studios, Montreux, Switzerland. On Blah Blah Blah, and performed on Pop’s 1986-1988 tours; a recording from the Whiskey-a-Go-Go in LA on 9 July 1988 is on the Official Live Experience Vol. 2.

Top: S. Fitzstephens, “Jaco Pastorius, Gerde’s Folk City, March 1986.”