The Sacred Triangle (Review)

Sexy Intellectual, 2010, Not Rated

Nov 17, 2010 at 2:06 pm

Here’s a shocking discovery for Cincinnati Pop-music historians: Did you know it was a legendary Iggy Pop performance here in 1970 that inspired David Bowie to create his Ziggy Stardust character and thus turn the British Glam Rock movement into a worldwide phenomenon? That’s one of many perceptive insights in this new documentary, which looks at how three fringe, cult Rock musicians — Bowie, Iggy Pop and Lou Reed — suddenly found themselves cultural avatars in the early 1970s.

Bowie, who had patiently been looking for a way to incorporate avant-garde theatricality (and Rock & Roll) into his singer-songwriter act, and his manager, Tony Defries, purchased footage of Iggy’s 1970 performance at Cincinnati Pop Festival. That was where Pop famously stood, bare-chested, atop the crowd’s hands, pointing to the future like Moses to the Ten Commandments. Bowie saw that and knew it was the kind of rock god he wanted to become. And as he became it — only much bigger — in 1972, he tried to help a couple of his then-down-and-out influences, Pop and Velvet Underground’s Lou Reed, make comebacks.

The album he produced for Reed, Transformer, was a breakthrough — its single, “Walk on the Wild Side,” one of the most striking Top 40 hits of all time. His relationship with the drug-troubled Pop was more problematic, but he did help raise his profile, critical regard (and spirits).

This DVD’s releasing company, Sexy Intellectual, is affiliated with Britain’s Chrome Dreams, which has been putting out some deeply researched DVDs investigating the formative influences on major Rock figures. (Apparently, without those figures’ cooperation.) This has extensive archival footage, matched with contemporary observations from biographers, employees of Defries’ flamboyant MainMan Productions and especially Bowie’s down-to-earth, no-nonsense ex-wife Angie. It’s highly interesting and illuminating about how seismic changes in Pop music start underground. Grade: B