The Stooges Review
This is where it all began for Iggy Pop. Of course there was James Osterburg playing for the Prime Movers and the Iguanas before the Stooges debut but Iggy’s story starts here. Looking at the album cover, either the band was trying to look like the Doors or, more likely the record label was trying to make them look like their label mates. Compare the cover of the Doors 1967 debut to the Stooges cover.
The album kicks of with the anti-flower power anthem, 1969 where Iggy bemoans “another year for me and you/another year with nothing to do” to a Bo Diddly rhythm. This isn’t the summer of love and the Stooges certainly aren’t another wet hippy outfit.
Next up is the sinister I Wanna Be Your Dog. Iggy takes the typical tale of unrequited teenage lust and adds a twist of S&M just to be tasteful. The descending doom laden riff is perfect for the song and is probably where punk began. The riff is accompanied by a pounding single-note piano and incongruous but highly effective sleigh bells.
We Will Fall is the album’s only real stinker. Whereas Iggy took inspiration from the Velvet Underground and Nico’s Venus in Furs on I Wanna Be Your Dog and made it work, this sounds like Lou Reed and the Doors having a bad day. The Stooges was produced by John Cale and he added viola to this track but it ends up a dirge.
No Fun is a punk classic covered by the Sex Pistols among others. Boredom has never sounded so good as in the Stooges hands. Iggy beckons guitarist Ron Asheton to produce a long, rambling fuzzy solo that fits to mood perfectly. This isn’t the sound of angry young men, it’s the sound of bored, angry young men with nothing better to do.
Ann was a feature of the Stooges live set at the time and it’s the closest you’ll get to a love song from the band. This has a great vocal performance by Iggy and the song beaks into a powerful repetitive instrumental after he informs Ann “I want you right now”.
According to legend, the Stooges only had five songs when they went into the studio. These formed the basis of their live shows and consisted of a couple of minutes of song followed by long improvisations. The record company informed the band that five wasn’t enough so Real Cool Time, Not Right and Little Doll were written over night. Of these, Little Doll is probably the best track with it’s drum beat reminiscent of African music, even if the remainder of the song is basically retreading 1969.
Almost universally dismissed at the time by critics, The Stooges debut album is nowadays seen as an important proto-punk record. The cold disaffected tone of the album and simple but effective musicianship went on to influence a number of bands from the punk era a beyond. However, it should be noted that not only is the Stooges debut an important historical document, it’s also a fine record in it’s own right.
Rated Sound gives the Stooges a rating of 8/10.
The Stooges (1969) Track Listing
2. I Wanna Be Your Dog
3. We Will Fall
4. No Fun
5. Real Cool Time
7. Not Right
8. Little Doll