Gimme Danger – The Story Of The Stooges
(Rhino / Warners)
Ah The Stooges! Back In The Day I hadn’t taken them too seriously BUT! Then the chap behind the counter at James Asman’s Record Shop near where I worked in the City of London handed me a vinyl pressing of Raw Power with the words “ Play this tonight, listen close and you’ll bring the money in tomorrow !” Next day I returned with the cash. The track Penetration in particular had me hooked….
Penetration sets a headrush beat and anxious Iggy Pop vocal against anguished guitars, pummelling drums, steady(ish) bass and threaded with an eight-note sequence played across time on a celeste. What kind of arcane genius could come up with this ?? It may have been the beginning of trance music, you didn’t want it to stop, as the guitars howled and the singer seemed more and more agitated. The rest of the record soon grew on me and I have been a fan ever since, going to Stooges and Iggy shows and drinking in the out-there drive and moreover humanity and sincerity of Mr Osterburg. (Did you know Commander Cody rockabilly guitar ace Bill Kirchen went to school with James Osterburg?)
Somewhere else on the globe, budding film-maker Jim Jarmusch was equally fascinated by this loud, forceful and mysterious crew. A million miles from the keyboard-based twiddly classical-snatches outfits that would form the ProgRock Movement, these Detroit-based hardcases just blazed away with self-assurance and looked to be on a mission, to keep things street and the amp settings high. Jarmuch’s film accompanies this soundtrack album – or the other way around – and is hypnotic viewing.
Gimme Danger rolls out the tambourine and cascading twelve-string before the growly Iggy vocal starts. Hear those squirming guitar spirals @ 2:50, swimming in reverb and starting to levitate. No Fun is from that first The Stooges album produced by the Velvet Underground’s John Cale, no less. Brash fuzz guitar and handclaps thread through the snarly song, Pop sounds accusatory – no fun and it has to be someone’s fault! I Wanna Be Your Dog still sounds as if it’s ablaze, those three thunderous chords rolling along like a black cloud. Still melts women at the knees, this one.
1969 and its savage panned wah settles into a jungle beat, a companion piece for The MC5’s The American Ruse ; Little Doll, bass-led and frantic MUST have influenced the likes of Blue Oyster Cult and other great subsequent outfits. Down On The Street attacks and never lets up, Iggy spits out the lyrics and you can see the police car lights as they approach…Loose bursts into life and pounds along..if only today’s young bands had an ounce of the edge The Stooges drew on at will. There’s a cool melody in amongst the melee, here.
I Got A Right is familiar to real fans, from the Bomp singles that Greg put out, as is the following I’m Sick Of You. The former steals A Yardbirds intro before plunging into its own riffing. I’m Sick is haunting and surefooted, over harshly chorused guitar arpeggio’s before plundering another Yardbirds guitar tumble, from Happenings if it’s puzzling you……
Ramblin’ Rose (MC5) is the lead cut from the first MC5 long player which is live. Evokes many memories as once the Five came and played here, we became friends and attended every gig. I owe their singer the late Rob Tyner most of my musical progress and attitudes, he knew something about everything and held Art in high regard. This one features Brother Wayne Kramer as lead (falsetto) vocalist and thunderstorm guitarist.
Again And Again (The Iguanas) is an ancient treasure from the Iggy story and sounds like The Leaves or Syndicate Of Sound – no bad thing !! I’m A Man (Prime Movers Blues Band) is the Bo Diddley strutter thumped out with trebly vocal and muffled harp, you can smell the oil cans and old mattresses in the garage..
Lost In The Future has a dramatic intro and punch-drunk vocal over a sluggish beat. Asthma Attack has an apocalyptic vibe and a fit of coughing, would never have got them on Songs Of Praise. It’s feedback-ridden and all over the place.
Airbrushed this music ain’t, kerosene-soaked and rust-covered it most certainly is…
Thanks to the Warners crew ……oh and by the way the chap at the record shop was..Dave Ruffy, drummer of The Ruts and Ruts DC (also star player with Kirsty McColl, Aztec Camera, The Waterboys…) and one of my oldest friends in the business