nihilism [noun]: the rejection of everything
decadence [noun]: new sensation arising from decay
[source: my head]
had to sell his shoes and travel third class to Berlin to
record "The Idiot" and "Lust For Life" with Iggy Pop.
"Every pleasure which emancipates itself from the exchange-value [of a capitalist society] takes on subversive features."
Theodore Adorno [1903-1969]
A questing intellect requires both diurnal and nocturnal stimulation, all the more an artistic one. Here are three key albums which to me at least exhibit a dark cocktail of psychological emotion.
1. IGGY POP: The Idiot 
The legendary four albums recorded in Germany in the mid 1970s by David Bowie, Iggy Pop and Brian Eno began with the issue of this landmark work. Described by Bowie as "a guinea-pig for what I wanted to do with sound", The Idiot features material which was both productively innovative and hugely influential. The impact of punk has often been exaggerated; in contrast, the influence of The Idiot is evident in the work of many important bands and musicians, including Joy Division, Gary Numan, Depeche Mode, The Jesus & Mary Chain, Human League, Sisters Of Mercy, Death In Vegas et al.
The Idiot stands out from the other three Berlin albums [Low, Heroes and Lust For Life] because of its dark, hypnotic, cerebrally-corrupting nature. It is dirty, highly-crafted subversion, evoking a sulphurous, poisonous atmosphere, not dissimilar to the nightmarish horrors of Poe's 'The Masque Of The Red Death', or the decadent eroticism of Baudelaire's 'Les Fleurs du mal'.
To quote Nick Kent from the NME:
"[The Idiot] is totally riveted and fettered to a thoroughly unhealthy aroma of evil and twilight zone zombie-time unease....[the album is] damn unhealthy, perverse, harrowing and...strangely addictive."
1. "Sister Midnight"
5. "China Girl"
6. "Dum Dum Boys"
7. "Tiny Girls"
8. "Mass Production"
'I stumble into town
Just like a sacred cow
Visions of swastikas in my head
And plans for everyone
It's in the white of my eyes
My little China Girl
You shouldn't mess with me
I'll ruin everything you are
I'll give you television
I'll give you eyes of blue
I'll give you men who want to rule the world
And when I get excited
My little China Girl says,
"Oh Jimmy, just you shut your mouth."
She says, "Shhhh..."'
2. "Tainted Love"
3. "Seedy Films"
5. "Sex Dwarf"
6. "Entertain Me"
7. "Chips on My Shoulder"
9. "Secret Life"
10. "Say Hello, Wave Goodbye"
It is a constant source of amazement to me that this album is not more highly revered. It was recorded very cheaply and very quickly; it features some striking and memorable songs; and the sheer vocal ability of Marc Almond is at times astonishing. Perhaps Soft Cell pitched its subversive context too mischievously, as exemplified by the bizarre and disturbing tracks 'Sex Dwarf' and 'Seedy Films', both of which feature dangerous, arguably irresponsible lyrics, poisonous ideas which nevertheless flow through the mind with an evil, seductive charm.
The cynical and knowing references to the seamy underbelly of urban life in Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret was undoubtedly too unpalatable for the mainstream public in the Thatcherite 80s, no matter how popular 'Tainted Love' was to become. Indeed, I suspect that many purchasers of the album bought it on the strength of that phenomenally-successful hit single, but were appalled at what they found. Yet in songs such as 'Youth' and 'Say Hello Wave Goodbye' [and later, 'Torch'], Almond proved that he was supremely talented in both composition and delivery.
"Why do you hate me so much? What did I ever do except leave you?"
[Lyrics from 'Secret Life']
'Frustration' is an angst-ridden rant upon middle-aged repression. 'Bedsitter' is a grim 'kitchen-sink' glimpse into the shallow and empty life of the disenfranchised working-class youth seeking escapism via heavy partying.
'I was born
One day I'll die
There was something in between
I....I don't know what or why
I'm a man
I want to break a rule
I am a no, no, no, no, no, no, nobody
I am so ordinary
I'm so tired of endless hard luck stories
I'm beginning to not give a damn
I wish I could reach right out for the untouchable
Film starring Bruce, John Wayne, Elvis Presley
Experiment with cocaine, LSD and set a bad, bad example
Live a little, run a harem, be a tiger
Meet Bo Derek and be her Tarzan
Reach, REACH out, out, out, out!
Live, live, live!'
[Lyrics for 'Frustration'.]
Later versions of the album Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret include the club classic 'Memorabilia'. For me, the Cindy Ecstasy mix is one of the highlights of early electronic music, surely on a par with Donna Summer's 'I Feel Love' and Kraftwerk's 'The Model'.
And I don't care if you disagree with me, because you are wrong, wrong, wrong; so very wrong, wrong, wrong.