It was bad enough when Iggy Pop, once the embodiment of self-mutilating, rock n’ roll excess, reinvented himself as a motor insurance salesman.
But the Godfather of Punk may finally test his fans’ loyalty to destruction after announcing an album in which he croons popular standards in French.
The reaction was mixed when Pop held a press conference at a luxury Paris hotel to unveil Après, a collection which includes the 65 year-old’s take on Chanson classics including Edith Piaf’s La vie en Rose and Les Passantes by Georges Brassens.
Iggy, who invented stage-diving and once rolled around on broken glass during incendiary live shows with the Stooges, demonstrated a smooth grasp of the French language, which he practices on staff at the Le Bristol hotel.
He admitted that he is releasing Après online himself after his record company, Virgin EMI, rejected the offering. “They didn’t think they would make any money,” Pop said. “They didn't think my fans would like it - very sensible attitudes for a sensible sort of person - but that’s a different sort of person than I am.”
The I Wanna Be Your Dog singer turned to French song because “it is French culture which has most stubbornly resisted the mortal attacks of the Anglo-American music machine.”
The garage rock pioneer, sporting a black shirt slashed to the navel which exposed his leathery chest, added: “When I did the stuff that was punky, people were more surprised than with this.
“When I was 16, 17, I was listening to Sinatra and Ravel and Debussy and Bo Diddley so it's kind of all the same to me. I just wanted to do something like this once.”
The singer, born James Osterburg, who previously acted as a “brand ambassador” for Swiftcover car insurance, warned of more twists in the lengthy musical journey which he began in 1960. “I don’t want to get in a box,” he said. “I'll get in a box when I’m dead.”
The album which includes Serge Gainsbourg’s “La Javanaise”, follows Pop’s 2009 foray into the French tongue with his album “Preliminaires”. Après also includes English-language versions of Frank Sinatra’s Only The Lonely and Michelle by The Beatles.