Peter Murphy’s heroin-infused “Cabaret Mix” of Iggy Pop’s 1977 punk hit “Fun Time” came on this morning, so I was going to play that track for you tonight. But while I was going through my memories and AllMusic.com, I came across an even better story of rock’n’roll incest.
When Bauhaus formed in the late ’70s around Peter Murphy, Daniel Ash, Kevin Haskins, and David J, they borrowed heavily from David Bowie’s theatricality, and from raw proto-punk sounds like Iggy and The Stooges. Murphy & Co. wrapped that up in Nosferatu’s cloak worn in recording sessions which sounded like they were held in one of pre-Thatcher Britain’s abandoned, antiquated factories — and thus was Goth born.
But before all that happened, or maybe before it even could happen, The Stooges broke up, and Iggy checked himself into a mental institution for a bit. He came out ready for something new, and teamed up with friend David Bowie to pursue just that. Pop & Bowie cowrote songs for two albums Pop released in ’77, The Idiot and Lust For Life. Bowie did some of the arrangements and played on many of the tracks, too. This was all going on in Berlin at about the same time Bowie was working with Roxy Music’s Brain Eno on Bowie’s famous “Berlin Trilogy” albums, Low, Heroes, and Lodger.
It goes without saying that before Bowie and Eno teamed up in Berlin, Roxy Music had been part of the Glam movement Bowie had started in the late ’60s/early ’70s. And if you want to hear an excellent cover of Bowie’s “Ziggy Stardust,” my favorite was recorded in ’82 by — you guessed it — Bauhaus.
The frontiers of rock have always been highly inbred, which brings us to tonight’s song. In 1983, Bowie had a Number Two hit with “China Girl,” along with a steamy video and, if memory serves, a few charges of racism — even though the song was an explicitly anti-racist statement. The Left never changes, it seems. What you might not remember is that “China Girl” had been co-written six years earlier by Bowie and Pop, and it was Pop who recorded it first, as the starter track on Side B of The Idiot.
There are some fine concert versions of this song all over YouTube, but I figured since we went off on the whole Berlin thing, I’d play the original studio version, as originally recorded during what was probably the creative height of each man’s career.
You might want to turn this one up loud as thunder.