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    The Stooges

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    The Stooges 9 ( 1969 )
    1969 / I Wanna Be Your Dog / We Will Fall / No Fun / Real Cool Time / Ann / Not Right / Little Doll

    1976, UK and US punk musicians trying to get out there and express themselves held up The Stooges first three records as ideals, as a common starting point to get off from. The same happened with the punk guys and the first couple of Velvet Underground albums. A lot of punk came from The Stooges and The Velvet Underground. As for The Stooges themselves, they were Beatles fans, Rolling Stones fans. They couldn't play very well originally which benefitted them in their search to do something different. Got signed to Elektra, the record label famous for The Doors. American musicians would always have this respect for stuff like that, whereas 1976 year zero in the UK, the UK guys wanted to pretend history didn't exist. The Stooges present to Elektra five songs as their debut LP because that's all they had. Elektra turn round and say, 'you've got more songs, right?'. Three songs were written overnight and 'The Stooges' album was born. It still only runs to thirty four minutes, but then again, punk bands forming later on took note of that. Iggy would do all this stuff at The Stooges gigs, cutting himself and diving into the crowd and getting into fights with the crowd. Fast forward half a decade and Johnny Rotten was doing exactly the same at early Sex Pistols gigs. The Stooges were so influential without even trying to be. Well, they just wanted to do something different. You can't plan it any more than that, really. That search for something different is what's missing from a lot of modern rock bands. The first wave of UK punk bands all sounded pretty different to each other, actually. You know, The Clash, The Damned and The Sex Pistols did not really sound alike. It was point of pride to sound different, a key aspect now overlooked in punk. We need to bring that back.

    Back to the album in question. Ron Asheton, the guitar player, would be pretty pleased with the LP although did note the guitars weren't quite as raw and wild sounding as he would have liked. We open then with '1969', a simple guitar riff sails through and the bass guitar then hits you over the head. Iggy growls and sounds menacing and so effortlessly cool. The song has a very simple structure that could easily see the song played for two minutes or twelve. The album version is just over four minutes with a great little fuzzy solo guitar part in the middle running right through to the end. Free-form jazz? John Coltrane? Well, hardly, but if you were a member of The Stooges, you wanted to try these things, yeah? 'I Wanna Be Your Dog' has the simplicity thing down stupendously well and Iggy sounds dangerously sexual and dirty. The riff of course is great and we get seemingly never ending, fuzzy descending lines. 'We Will Fall' is a ten minute drone created at the behest of bass player Dave Alexander who came up with the vocal mantra they repeat ominously throughout. Variously described as 'worthless' or in fact the best thing on the LP, in actual fact it is neither. It's position as third track on the LP does interrupt the flow when placing it 2nd to last always works better for me. With the benefit of MP3, you can of course place it wherever you wish, even in the trashcan, although for me the song has a tremendous amount of atmosphere and I have no issues with it, really.

    'No Fun' is another instant classic, much covered by The Sex Pistols. 'Real Cool Time' indicates well the bands primal origins as a psychedelic act, they would originally be billed as 'the psychedelic stooges' after all. 'Ann', as can 'We Will Fall' in some respects, be seen as The Stooges do The Doors. They wouldn't really follow this direction in the future so it's nice to have it here on the debut. 'Not Right' is merely a re-write of 'No Fun' in many respects but the guitar is very cool and enough to make the song stand out on its own. That merely leaves 'Little Doll' to close which reminds me of The Ramones and is a re-write of '1969'. I've mentioned every track then? Yeah, I don't consider anything here filler, even the filler. The album is short enough and interesting enough to be more than the sum of its parts. It leaves you wanting more, always a good thing for an album in my book. You know, just flip the record back over and place the needle back at the beginning. Drink some beer and smoke some cigarettes.

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    Readers Comments

    Saniette saniette@hotmail.com
    Very nice little review of The Stooges' first album. I really enjoy your conversational writing style (not just on this but on all your reviews). It's just like the Stooges - simple, direct, and engaging. You really draw the reader in, and you always offer a sincere and personal viewpoint, which is much appreciated. Good job on your site - I visit it all the time, and I enjoy finding out what you think of an album (and I agree with you most of the time). Hope I'm not kissing ass too much, but you do put a lot of work in I'm sure, and I just wanted to show a little appreciation. Cheers.

    Gazza garyhess44@hotmail.com
    3 of the greatest rock n roll songs ever are on this album ,(goes without saying what they are) the rest is pretty rocking as well . Ron asheton could have been told to take his foot off the wah wah pedal for a couple of minutes here and there but its aged very well indeed. Cales production is very good full of subtle little touches to the live sound, check out the piano and sleighbells on "wanna be your dog" . Ultimately the band didnt have enough material for an album hence the chant "i will fall" which basically filled out side 1 (its about 5 mins too long) As a debut album it was way ahead of its time but "funhouse" absolutely blows it away , but it blows just about every other rock n roll album out the water anyway !!!

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    The Weirdness ( 2007 )
    Trollin' / You Can't Have Friends / ATM / Idea Of Fun / The Weirdness / Free And Freaky / Greedy Awful People / She Took My Money / The End Of Christianity / Mexican Guy / Passing Cloud / I'm Fried

    Fans of The Stooges, and there are plenty of rock-critics among them, were never going to let them get away with releasing new material after thirty-eight years without a pause for thought and a brick through the stereo. Cursing Steve Albini is a popular past-time in some quarters and whilst choosing him may have made sense at the time, his claustrophobic work here doesn't re-create anything other than any standard garage rock/alternative band of the past fifteen years or so. What originally made The Stooges albums stand-out was dumb lyrics and great grooves. 'The Weirdness' is a very busy album, a lot of sound, but not enough melody. Iggy has been mixed slightly down in the overall sound, a usual Albini trick. The rhythm section ( with former minuteman Mike Watt stepping in on bass ) sound solid, yet also exactly the same as any other Steve Albini produced rhythm section. Ron Asheton appears hopelessly lost at what exactly to do and fills in here and there with the odd inconsequential guitar line. The album remains interesting though. It is indeed a solid modern garage rock album and were it by anybody other than The Stooges would be warmly received. Nobody is going to call this a classic, but warmly received seems about right. Pitchfork on the other hand call the first three stooges albums a perfect triptych. before going onto slate 'The Weirdness' with a rating of 1.0. Michael Bolton deserves a 1.0, not 'The Weirdness', so let's get things straight. True, there are few particularly strong actual compositions here, yet the threadbare likes of 'The End Of Christianity' still power a good amount of rock power, especially considering the three surviving stooges are all pushing 60 years old. Considering that, this is a remarkable feat of album. The Rolling Stones don't rock this hard, after all. Special props to the drummer who meets Albini's high drumming requirements with aplom, pounding away furiously.

    'Mexican Guy' is an excellent tune, a stop-start grinding riff complete with the best solo Ron Asheton manages on the entire LP. The title tune is a slightly strange ( or 'weird' ) piece, sounding little like anything else here. Iggy tries to sound like Bowie, interestingly. It's a dirge, but a welcome dirge. The opening 'Trollin' sounds like a particularly excellent Iggy Pop solo track, we'd be calling it a return to form if it wasn't The Stooges. That's how ridiculous the judges at the likes of Pitchfork seem to be, completely unable to seperate the record from the people making the record. Another strong track is 'Idea Of Fun', hardly original, yet that's not really the point. It at least connects The Stooges to their legacy in a way much of the material here for a long-term fan frustratingly doesn't. Don't expect a Stooges album then, just listen for a decent rock 'n' roll record. That's what this is, after all.

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    Readers Comments

    gazza garyhess44@hotmail.com
    Great to see you reviewing the stooges adrian , i personally regard them as one of the greatest rock bands of all time . Expectations were probably too high for this and i think your review is spot on . Its a good summer rock record , iggys on top form and itll sound great on the car radio (should any radio station play it) Rons guitar playing is a bit one dimensional at times compared to his amazing playing on the 1st 2 stooges albums , while imagine my dismay at seeing albini behind the controls . Considering the great producers who they could have had this is just mystifying . A couple of listens in and your asking the same question you did on hearing "rid of me" and "in utero" Was there a bass player in the room ? You certainly can barely hear any evidence of bass playing . I mean what is it with this guy ? The sound he gets is so shit .. Fave tunes ? idea of fun,mexican guy and ATM

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    this page last updated 26/08/07

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