Ex-member of The StoogesJames Williamson was originally hired to produce the album, but a conflict between Williamson and David Bowie (who was assisting as a friend of Pop) over recording techniques led to Williamson walking out on the project.
David Bowie and Simple Minds provide backing vocals on "Play It Safe".
There has been some debate over the lack of lead guitar on the final mix, which has been criticized by Glen Matlock. In Iggy Pop's biography, Matlock claims that the lead guitar was stripped after David Bowie was punched by Steve New for hitting on his girlfriend of that time, Patti Palladin.
Soldier was released in February 1980 by record label Arista. The album peaked at number 125 on the Billboard charts. Videos were made for the songs "Loco Mosquito", "Knocking 'Em Down (In the City)" and "Dog Food".
Soldier has received a mixed-to-favorable reception from critics.
In her retrospective review, Charlotte Robinson of PopMatters wrote "Instead of a punk masterpiece, [...] Soldier turned out to be an uneven and sometimes plain silly recording."
Rolling Stone's David Fricke reviewed the album positively, calling attention to Iggy Pop's successful weathering of his own self-destructive persona. Of the album, Fricke wrote: "Soldier, like all of his albums, is a hard-fought battle in a war that Iggy Pop is determined to win. Call him Ig noble."