The Stooges – The Stooges

The Stooges (1969)

A

1. 1969 2. I Wanna Be Your Dog 3. We Will Fall 4. No Fun 5. Real Cool Time 6. Ann 7. Not Right 8. Little Doll

 

“I don’t care what u say this isn’t punk

I heard about the stooges on the vh1 punk show and a few people told me this is a clasic punk cd but guess what it aint punk. This sounds like the Rolling Stones or something u have a serius problem if u think its punk. Check out NOFX, Lag wagon, MxPx, American Hifi, Sr-71, SUM41, Good Charlote, or Dead Kennedie’s if u want 2 hear what real punk sounds like.”

-Some gigantic dumbass on Amazon

Hahahahaha. I swear that’s real – check the customer reviews for Fun House to assure yourself once again that comments on Youtube, Amazon and the like represent the lowest common denominator of human communication. But, to be fair, for people with squirrel-level IQs looking back from the modern age, the Stooges may indeed sound more like good old 1969 classic rock than whatever you deem to be “punk.” These people deserve an explanation as to why the Stooges were more punk than “Good Charlote” (shit, I think Tony Bennett is probably definitely more punk than Good Charlotte). And I’m happy to oblige, cuz you ain’t gonna hear it on VH1, I can guarantee that.

The first song here is called “1969.” What comes to your mind when you think about the year 1969? Well, I can speak for myself. First, I think about being in 7th grade and for some reason thinking I had been born in the wrong era, wishing I had been around back then to hang around at Woodstock, not realizing it was an orgy of mud, dirty naked people on acid and sloppy performances by famous musicians emanating from a stage a mile away that you couldn’t even see. Then I think of all the music all those filthy hippies listened to. Richie Havens strumming acoustic guitar for 4 hours. 20-minute druggy jams. Songs with “psychedelic” sitar breakdowns. Totes trippy, dude! Far out, man! Not that all that stuff necessarily repels me – plenty of my favorite music ever is psychedelic rock music from the late 60’s. But my point is that “1969” does not by any means sound like it represents anything else that was going on in rock music or in hippie world in its namesake year. It sounds like it was made by people who could not have given less of a shit about all of that. Not even the Stones seemed this immune in ‘69 – sure, they’d gotten the psychedelia completely out of their systems with Their Satanic Majesties Request a couple of years before, but Mick felt so left out after not getting invited to Woodstock and not being able to sell as many records to hippie dumbasses as, I dunno, the Jefferson Airplane or something, he went ahead and organized Altamont so he could pretend to be all about peace and love too (“Brothahhsss and sistahhssss! Why aw we fiiiigh-ing an’ wha’ fohhh?”). But Iggy and crew seem oblivious to it all – they’re just gonna pound their seemingly dumb power chord riffs into your head over and over again, as if with a bone club. They reduce rock ‘n roll to its most primal core – and if that ain’t punk rock, then what is?

Not that this album doesn’t sound like it was made in the 60’s, because it really does. John Cale of the Velvet Underground, acting as the album’s producer, endows the record with the unbalanced mix and clumpety, wet blanket drums you know and love from all your favorite 60’s albums. And Asheton lays on the wah-wah pedal for his overdubs a bit too heavily, just like all those other late-60’s wank fiends. Fortunately, his riffing is so fucking raw that he manages to power through the mix with sheer blunt force anyway. But Cale’s influence still turns out to be an issue. Not that I have any evidence whatsoever that he had anything to do with deciding to write an annoying Doors rip-off (“Ann” – seriously, why the hell would Iggy feel the need to cop from Jim Morrison? I guess Jim may have looked better with his shirt off, but that’s about all he had going for him in that matchup) or bafflingly decide to completely break the album’s flow with a 10-minute, languid drone called “We Will Fall.” Actually, that one kinda does sound like the Velvet Underground with its “Venus In Furs”-esque viola. The only other thing I can really say about it is, uh… what the fuck?

Argh, no, it’s still an A, goddammit. “Ann” isn’t all that bad, I guess, and even if “We Will Fall” is waaaaaaay too long and boring to give me much of a reason to want to listen to it all the way through, that Indian (?) chanting is actually pretty hypnotic. Besides, I forget about it completely by about 10 seconds into “No Fun,” because the Stooges get back to doing they thang: banging out primal, nasty-ass rock for a couple of minutes before Ron starts twiddling around with this really cool, lightly-fuzzed tone and Iggy starts ad-libbing… not that his ad-libbing is all that different from his regular lyrics. I mean, look at some of those song titles: “No Fun.” “Real Cool Time.” “Not Right.” Even though Iggy’s vocal performance is somewhat subdued compared to what he would become, these songs are simple and hard-hitting as their titles imply, full of lyrics like “well alright,” “my babe,” “uh huh,” and “okay.” But it all fits with the whole aesthetic of emerging from the primordial garage of rock ‘n roll power. Besides, you ain’t lived until you’ve heard “I Wanna Be Your Dog,” one of the most badass, meanest rock songs of all time, and its brilliant one note piano line.

The Stooges doesn’t quite reach the level of evil that this band would achieve later, but, um… ah, fuck it, I forgot what I was saying. “No fuuuuun… mahhh baaaaabe… No fuuuuuuun…”