Featuring Iggy Pop: A compilation of James Osterberg Jr.'s duets & collaborations

MUSIC

Iggy Pop at his wedding at the home of Jimmy Silver, manager of The Stooges, 1969. Photo by Peter Yates.

Iggy Pop at his wedding at the home of Jimmy Silver, manager of The Stooges, 1969. Photo by Peter Yates.
 

This story was originally published on September 16, 2021. We've updated it with even more Iggy Pop collaborations.
 

Iggy Pop is known for his outrageous stage antics, groundbreaking music, and massive influence on punk rock.

The Ypsi-Arbor native who was born James Newell Osterberg Jr. should also be known as a man who doesn't say no.

Ever.

Need someone to croon on your single? Tell Iggy the time and place and if he needs to wear a shirt.

Need a deep voice to sing-speak words over your music? Mr. Pop will suddenly appear in the studio, tap you on the shoulder, and say, "May I?"

Iggy even performed "Silent Night" with William Shatner—the. man never. says. nah.

I started thinking about Pop's predilection for partnerships after his latest collaboration hit my inbox.

Hammond B3 player Dr. Lonnie Smith is a master of soul jazz, which is not the first genre you would associate with Pop. Probably not even the last genre. But "Move Your Hand" is a single from Smith's latest Blue Note album, Breathe, and it features Pop riding the funky groove by sing-talking through a simple set of lyrics. 

This song follows two other 2021 Pop collaborations: He provided vocals on an alternate version of "I Wanna Be Your Slave" by Italian rock band Måneskin and repeats one word on the garage-rock single "I, Moron" by English duo The Lovely Eggs. (Iggy: "You need me to say 'moron' in 16 different ways? I got you.")

And as I was writing the above paragraphs, I discovered yet another new collaborative Pop effort came out: "European Son" with Matt Sweeney as featured on the new album I’ll Be Your Mirror: A Tribute to the Velvet Underground & Nico.

No is not a word Ig knows.

Aside from his work with fellow Ann Arborites the Ashton brothers in The Stooges, Pop's most famous collaboration was with David Bowie, who produced his 1977 albums The Idiot and Lust for Life. Pop also had a big hit in 1990 with "Candy" featuring The B-52s' Kate Pierson from his album Brick by Brick

In 1989, he joined the charity-single bandwagon many years after that was a thing by singing on "Spirit of the Forest," with the likes of Brian Wilson, Ringo Starr, Joni Mitchell, and ... Olivia Newton-John, among many others ... to benefit the Earth Love Fund foundation. Then followed that up by participating in a truly awful, Lenny Kravitz-produced, superstar-soaked cover of "Give Peace a Chance" in 1991. (Somehow never single achieved the same cultural saturation as "We Are the World" and "Do They Know It's Christmas?")

But there are numerous other collaborations in Pop's career that feature him working with lesser-known or more esoteric artists, some of whom just sample his voice from interviews. I'm sure Iggy doesn't mind. He says yes to everything.

Below you'll find a selection of those recordings—oui, there are a lot of tunes in French—starting with the most recent.

Chekhov's "Three Sisters" gets a risqué update in U-M’s "Moscow Moscow Moscow Moscow Moscow Moscow"

THEATER & DANCE REVIEW

Six actors are on a stage in what is made to look like a large living room.

Photo via UMSMTD's Facebook page.

Playwright Halley Feiffer had the clever idea of taking Anton Chekhov’s play Three Sisters and kicking it into the 21st century. 

It’s one of those creations that begins with the question, “What if?” What if Chekhov were writing his play today using raw contemporary language with lots of profanity, slang, catchphrases, snarky attitudes, and even a few funny jokes backed by some hot early 2000s music?

The result is Moscow Moscow Moscow Moscow Moscow Moscow being presented at the University of Michigan’s Arthur Miller Theatre. Director Ryan Dobrin takes the idea a bit further in his production at the university by setting Chekhov’s characters “in a more diverse context,” according to a program note. The result is a comic mashup that draws, again according to the program notes, on the affectations of Paris Hilton and the Kardashians as well as on gender-identity issues.

The playbill also comes with a warning that the play may be “upsetting, offensive, or triggering for some audience members” and advises caution. Some of those who might respond that way are fans of Chekhov who might not appreciate what Feiffer has done to his play.

Friday Five: Mista Midwest, Latitude 49, A Good Sign, Dani Darling, Dimitra

MUSIC FRIDAY FIVE

Album and single covers collage for music featured in this edition of the Friday Five.

Friday Five highlights music by Washtenaw County-associated artists and labels.

This week features hip-hop from Mista Midwest, contemporary composition by Latitude 49, electro-pop by A Good Sign, indie-R&B by Dani Darling, and the latest MEMCO Exposure mix by Dimitra.

 

Frances Kai-Hwa Wang reaches for poetry “when argument fails, when there can be no objectivity, when things have become personal”

WRITTEN WORD INTERVIEW

A portrait photo of author Frances Kai-Hwa Wang is next to her book cover for You Cannot Resist Me When My Hair Is in Braids

Frances Kai-Hwa Wang’s new book, You Cannot Resist Me When My Hair Is in Braids, begins with desire and dreams and concludes with anger, love, and home. In the pages in between, the expansive lyric essays travel broadly from Kathmandu, which is “the ancient city of my youth while I am disappearing into summer, fire, and sea,” to the basement of the Detroit Institute of Arts where “we discover the museum’s stash of old film reels.” The essays consider how to have one’s own dreams, embrace identity, experience violence against identity, and engage with family (not to mention ex-family members). 

Leaving a place and leaving a marriage become both a backdrop and an integral part of the essays. In “Texting Nostalgic for Kathmandu,” Wang writes:

Tasty Times: Mercury Salad Explores Delectable Life Experiences on “Volume 3” EP

MUSIC PREVIEW INTERVIEW

Mercury Salad's Kurt Bonnell, Brooke Ratliff, and Kyle Kipp include folky and funky flavors on "Volume 3."

Mercury Salad's Kurt Bonnell, Brooke Ratliff, and Kyle Kipp include folky and funky flavors on "Volume 3." Photo courtesy of Mercury Salad.

Brooke Ratliff says she’s no good at writing traditional love songs because “they’re either really mushy, or they’re really sad”—so she doesn’t even try on Volume 3, Mercury Salad’s latest EP.

Instead, the Ypsilanti folk-rock trio of Ratliff (vocals, guitar, percussion), Kurt Bonnell (guitar, harmonica), and Kyle Kipp (bass) explores the uncertainties of a promising relationship on “Best Guess,” the EP’s spirited opener.

“To me, this song could go either way. It could be that it’s unexpected, or it could be that the person is being overly optimistic,” said Ratliff with a laugh. “I wanted to do something sweet-natured and slightly romantic, but I couldn’t go all the way there. That’s why it’s my ‘Best Guess’ this is gonna work out great.”

Business Casual: Crossword Smiles Fashions Classic and Experimental Sounds on “Pressed & Ironed” Album

MUSIC INTERVIEW

Crossword Smiles' Tom Curless and Chip Saam share a compelling assortment of semi-autobiographical and character-driven tracks on Pressed & Ironed.

Crossword Smiles' Tom Curless and Chip Saam share a compelling assortment of semi-autobiographical and character-driven tracks on Pressed & Ironed. Photo by Madeline Curless.

For their debut album, Crossword Smiles brings a “business-casual” sensibility to the indie-pop world.

The Grand Blanc-Dexter duo of Tom Curless (vocals, guitars, drums, keys) and Chip Saam (vocals, bass, guitars) strikes an optimal balance between classic pop-rock song structures and experimental college-rock textures on Pressed & Ironed.

“We want to show the duality of our lives,” Curless said. “We work day jobs, and then we put the pressed shirts away and put on our Converse [sneakers] and play rock ‘n’ roll.”

With button-up shirts cast aside and well-worn sneakers in place, Crossword Smiles fashions 10 artful, melodic tracks on Pressed & Ironed that remove the wrinkles of the past and provide a smooth outlook for the future.

“Tom and I both take our lyrics somewhat seriously, and I don’t think either of us writes something just to write something because it sounds good,” Saam said. “We both put some thought and work into our lyrics, and it’s awesome when people really pay attention, especially if it makes some kind of impact.”

Friday Five: A look at The UP, forgotten contemporaries of The Stooges and MC5

MUSIC FRIDAY FIVE

The second lineup of The UP: Bob Rasmussen, Scott Bailey, Frank Bach, and Gary Rasmussen, in the basement of 1520 Hill Street. Photo by Leni Sinclair.

The second lineup of The UP: Bob Rasmussen, Scott Bailey, Frank Bach, and Gary Rasmussen, in the basement of 1520 Hill Street in Ann Arbor. Photo by Leni Sinclair via AADL's Freeing John Sinclair project.

Friday Five highlights music by Washtenaw County-associated artists and labels.

This week, we have a special edition focusing on The UP.

*****

As Ann Arbor creeps towards its bicentennial in 2024, residents can be proud of a history rich in accomplishment, with achievements in medicine, politics, and sports that mark this city as a force for progress in human endeavor.

But who cares?

For millions of music fans around the globe, the only reason to discuss A2 is its role as an incubator for two bands whose uncompromising sounds proved an important step in the evolution of punk rock and heavy metal. The MC5 and The Stooges spent formative years here in the late 1960s, experimenting with volume and energy in our basements, living rooms, and public parks while perfecting distinct approaches to raw, aggressive rock 'n' roll.

September 23 is the 54th anniversary of the University of Michigan Union Ballroom gig that got both bands signed to a major label, and it's a cultural moment worth celebrating. 

Elektra representative Danny Fields was in town to evaluate the MC5's viability, but after watching this show, he saw the future and offered both The Stooges and the MC5 record contracts the next morning.

The third act on that bill, The UP, did not get a big break that night—or any night, since no record label ever signed the band. But the Ann Arbor group's dedication to revolutionary rock 'n’ roll was just as savage as that of its peers.

Sweet and Dour: Ann Arbor's Seaholm mixes pop-punk with dark lyrics on "It's Raining Outside"

MUSIC INTERVIEW

The three musicians in Seaholm standing under an umbrella.

Rain brains: Austin Stawowczyk, Pat Ray, Kris Herrmann are Seaholm. Photo courtesy of the band.

If there was any doubt that a good pop-punk/power pop band can still cut through the musical clutter and make a powerful statement, Ann Arbor-based Seaholm proves it with style.

For example, check out “Cough Syrup,” a terrific single and video from the band’s new album, It’s Raining Outside. In just 2:11, the band offers a tremendous burst of musical energy, memorable visuals, and an earworm (“Can you please tell me what’s going on?”) that will stick with you for days.

It’s Raining Outside is a short, sharp album that displays the band’s talent for combining dynamic musicianship with thoughtful lyrics. On “Weatherman,” the album’s keystone, they sing: “What’s the weather like today? / I want the rain to wash me away / Cleanse me of my guilt and take me home / Say goodbye to the life that I’ve always known.”

Although an earlier lineup did some recordings, It’s Raining Outside fully introduces the current band, which consists of Pat Ray on guitar and vocals, Austin Stawowczyk on bass and vocals, and Kris Herrmann on drums and vocals.

Ray answered a few questions about Seaholm's history and new album via email. 

Human Nature: U-M prof Scott Hershovitz talks philosophy with his kids in the book "Nasty, Brutish, and Short"

WRITTEN WORD INTERVIEW

A portrait of author Scott Hershovitz alongside his book cover for Nasty, Brutish, and Short

Author photo by Rex and Hank Hershovitz.

U-M professor Scott Hershovitz divulges conversations with his two young sons and connects those chats to philosophical concepts in his new book, Nasty, Brutish, and Short: Adventures in Philosophy With My Kids. Among the topics are swearing, sports, racism, and religion.

Hershovitz delves into both questions that his children raise and questions that he and his wife, Julie, face as parents. What makes the book so approachable is that the conversations are set in humous, relatable, day-to-day scenarios. For example, the subject of individual rights emerges when one of the children, Hank, takes ages to decide what to have for lunch after being offered a quesadilla or hamburger:

Shirley Ann Higuchi tells her mother's tale and the bigger story of the Japanese American incarceration during WWII in “Setsuko’s Secret” 

WRITTEN WORD INTERVIEW

Shirley Ann Higuchi and her book Setsuko's Secret

Shirley Ann Higuchi illuminates a dark time in U.S. history in her book, Setsuko’s Secret: Heart Mountain and the Legacy of the Japanese American Incarceration.

Through the lens of long unspoken family stories, Higuchi recounts how Japanese Americans were removed from their homes and businesses, then forced to live in one of the 10 concentration camps created during World War II as the result of unfounded security concerns. The memories and trauma of that time are still felt today. 

Higuchi, who grew up in Ann Arbor and went to the University of Michigan, will speak about her book at the downtown Ann Arbor District Library on Thursday, September 22, 6:30-7:30 pm. She is a lawyer for the American Psychological Association, a past president of the D.C. Bar, and chair of the Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation, which operates a museum on the site of the former camp.

In Setsuko’s Secret, Higuchi writes of the camp where her parents met, Heart Mountain: