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The Stooges

The Stooges/Iggy Pop


David Bowie must be the patron saint of comebacks. When Mott The Hoople was ready to call it quits Bowie, a major fan, gave them "All The Young Dudes" which became their biggest hit. The Stooges, shattered by the Rock n' Roll lifestyle, were revived with Bowie's help and he brought them further than they'd ever been.

James Osterberg started out as a drummer with the Detroit based Iguanas. They released a cover of Bo Diddley's "Mona," that didn't do much, so the band split. However, Osterberg picked up the name "Iggy" (short for Iguana) because of his squeamish appearance when performing. The band also had future Stooge, Ron Ashton. Iggy's next stop, the Prime Movers also bit the dust, so young Iggy moved to Chicago where he found some session work. But session work had long hours and rotten pay, necessitating a return to Michigan. It was after seeing Jim Morrison (the Doors' vocalist) in concert that Iggy decided he wanted to sing.

The Stooges consisted of Iggy Stooge (later changed to "Pop"), Ron Ashton (guitar), Scott Ashton (drums) and David Alexander (bass). Elektra Records signed them and their debut self-titled LP hit in '69. The album stood in stark contrast to the flower-power generation's peace and love vibe. It didn't sell very well even though it contained the classic "1969." Here Iggy pondered the trials and tribulations of 21 and 22 year olds and summed it all up with a "boo-hoo." Their second album "Fun House" installed Steven McKay on sax. It didn't sell either. But albums only told part of the story. Far and away, the Stooges were a live act - but not so much for musical reasons. In concert, Iggy went way beyond the Morrison-type theatrics. Drugs had a lot to do with it. And there was the infamous New York show where he puked on the front row audience. By '71, the band was toast. Drug problems and band conflicts had taken their toll. Iggy moved back home with his parents.





Meanwhile, Bowie had seen footage of a '70 Stooges' concert and was impressed. He met with Iggy in '72 and they put the band back together. "Raw Power," credited to Iggy and the Stooges and produced by Bowie, was recorded in London in an effort to keep Iggy away from heroin. The record company wanted a commercial album as opposed to the Stooges' standard fare. Bowie didn't succeed but he didn't fail either. Call it a draw.

Iggy & The Stooges hit the road with wild performances that often resulted in injuries to both the band and the audience. Iggy maimed himself on a regular basis. During one concert a disgruntled motorcycle gang member climbed up on the stage and punched out Iggy apparently taking offense at something he said. The end of the road came (again) in '74 after a concert in Detroit. No record label wanted anything to do with them. Iggy and Bowie continued their occasional partnership into the '80s. Iggy showed up here and there as both an actor and musician. The surprising thing was the Stooge's ringleader made it out alive.

After a couple decade hiatus, Iggy recorded with The Stooges, Ron and Scott Ashton (the surviving members), on the '03 release "Skull Ring." Iggy was also backed Green Day and Sum 41.

Following the success (nobody died) of the "Skull Ring" sessions, it seemed evitable that there would be another full-fledged Stooges album. The aptly titled "The Weirdness" hit in '07.

Probably no one thought The Stooges would find their way to the Rock N' Roll Hall of Fame but in '10 they finally did just that (after being eligible for 16 years). The induction highlight was a typically exuberant performance of "I Wanna Be Your Dog" with Iggy and company joined by Green Day's Billie Joe Armstrong and Mike Dirnt and Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder and Jeff Ament.
The Stooges Discography

Albums:

1969 The Stooges
1970 Fun House
1973 Raw Power
2007 The Weirdness
2013 Ready To Die

"The Stooges" ("1969" and "I Wanna Be Your Dog"), "The Stooges' Fun House" and "Raw Power" are the essential Stooges recordings. These records came out between '69 and '72. Speed Metal, Heavy Metal, Thrash, Punk - everything that would keep Rock crazed and unchained is here. A non-stop blast.

On his own hook (solo) Iggy Pop produced "Lust For Life" and "The Idiot." These are the Iggy's most fiercely Rockin' albums. "Brick By Brick" delivers a broader emotional and stylistic range. But you can get that stuff just about anywhere. Go for the full-tilt, in your face Rock.

Iggy's "Skull Ring" has a clever concept. The Stooges, namely Ron and Scott Ashton, are around long enough to provide the set's best tracks, "Skull Rings," "Little Electric Chair" ("frying up your hair in the little electric chair") and "Dead Rock Star." Rather than fall into mediocrity, the rest of the album employs the talents of Sum 41, Peaches and Green Day - all of whom owe Iggy and The Stooges for blazing the trail. Iggy and Peaches are a kick on "Rock Show" while Sum 41 checks in with the splendid "Little Know It All." Green Day's contributions "Private Hell" and "Supermarket" are also strong. Through it all, Iggy is out front growling and wailing away. Seems like old times.

The lyric, "My idea of fun is killing everyone," from "My Idea Of Fun," is sung with such a maliciously cheerful glee that it's clearly evident The Stooges have returned. A little worse for wear, but not worn out, "The Weirdness" is an entertaining, kick-ass album. The Stooges extol life in the U.S. on "Free & Freaky." The track even manages to bash the French (for having warm beer, among other perceived transgressions). Song titles, "The End Of Christianity," "Greedy Awful People," "Trollin'," and "I'm Fried" are about as far anyone need go to understand the group's (or at least Iggy's) perspective.

 

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