KamerTunesBlog

Revisiting my extensive music collection, one artist at a time

Satur-debut – THE STOOGES “THE STOOGES”

It’s no secret that I’ve never been much of a punk rock fan. I do enjoy certain punk artists & albums but I don’t tend to play them too often. The same goes for proto-punk artists like The Stooges, who helped set the groundwork for the punk movement more than half a decade before it became a genre. That changed when I got copies of the 2005 2-CD expanded editions of their first two albums, and I’ve been a fan ever since. In 2014 I wrote a B-Sides The Point post about them which reinvigorated my appreciation of those records, and their debut remains my favorite.

For more information on this series, please read the opening paragraph of the first post, which featured the debut album from Led Zeppelin.

 

From B-Sides The Point – THE STOOGES:

The debut album, simply titled The Stooges (1969), is an astonishing collection of songs that combines elements of ‘60s hard rock (like Ron Asheton’s constant use of the wah-wah pedal) with an aggressive approach that’s equal parts Lou Reed streetwise poetry and DIY punk rock. Although none of the musicians would be considered virtuosos by any stretch of the imagination, that didn’t stop them from breaking boundaries with music & lyrics that are somehow stupid & brilliant at the same time. It’s especially impressive considering that none of them were older than 22. This was the only album where their frontman was credited as “Iggy Stooge.” Musically speaking, they obviously didn’t care about following any rules, and the choice of John Cale as producer was a wise one since few people have broken the rules of rock & roll more than the viola-wielding Welshman. For some reason his original mixes were rejected by the band and their label (Elektra Records), so the album was mixed by Iggy with Elektra president Jac Holzman. Four of Cale’s mixes are included on the 2-CD version and they’re not drastically different from the final product. If anything they might be a little more muted & claustrophobic, but they don’t distract from the power of the music. The other bonus tracks are alternate or expanded versions, none of them surpassing the album versions. With eight songs in less than 35 minutes, The Stooges packs a punch and invites multiple spins. That brevity is welcome, and something that would continue on subsequent releases. Now it’s time to discuss the highlights of the album.

The Essentials:

♪     “1969” – Wah-wah guitar and a Bo Diddley beat initially make this sound like it could be any garage band, but Ron’s searing guitar work (as much about tone as the actual notes he’s playing) and Iggy’s snarled lyrics (“It’s another year for me and you, another year with nothing to do”) make it sound unlike any of their contemporaries.

♪     “I Wanna Be Your Dog” – A fuzzed-out hard rock song that’s also a template for punk acts to follow. The jingling bells add a touch of lightness while the repetitive music is mesmerizing, making you focus on Iggy’s voice. I never realized before that this is really a love song: “And now I’m ready to feel your hand, and lose my heart on the burning sands.”

♪     “We Will Fall” – Some listeners might be turned off by this 10+ minute long Indian-influenced drone with chanted group vocals, but it’s a key song for me. I can clearly hear a Doors influence (especially Iggy’s Jim Morrison-esque vocals) but it has its own distinct feel. I consider it a psychedelic masterpiece, and I love the wah-wah flourishes throughout the song, the slow intensity of the music, and Cale’s viola added at the end.

♪     “No Fun” – Possibly the best-known song from this album; a stomping rocker with a distorted fuzzy guitar riff and a great vocal delivery (“No fun…my babe…no fun”). The simple arrangement is very effective.

Other Notable Tracks:

* “Ann” – A slow, almost dirge-like ballad with everyone showing restraint until the biting lead guitar through the final minute. I wonder if it’s about a woman or the Michigan city where they came from, Ann Arbor (“You took my arm and you broke my will, you made me shiver with a real thrill”).

* “Not Right” – A bright, swinging rocker with a rumbling bass line and killer guitar tone. I also like the cool stop-start pattern in the intro.

* “Little Doll” – A rumbling bass intro gives way to a splashy, tom-and-cymbal-heavy groove with more wah-wah guitar. It also features one of Iggy’s strongest performances: “You’re the one who makes me sing, bring happiness & everything.”

 

I know there are many passionate Stooges fans who prefer the albums that followed, but is there anyone out there like me who loves this one the most? Also, I’ve never heard either of their post-reunion releases. Are they worth a listen?

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15 comments on “Satur-debut – THE STOOGES “THE STOOGES”

  1. stephen1001
    April 13, 2019

    It’s on the 1001 – and it sounds like quite deservingly so!

    Like

  2. Aphoristical
    April 13, 2019

    I’d probably take Raw Power as my favourite Stooges but I haven’t spent as much time with the debut. I like Uncle Tupelo’s cover of I Wanna Be Your Dog.

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    • I think Raw Power gets the most accolades and I understand why it’s so beloved, but I prefer the musical direction they took on their first two albums. I like them almost equally but the debut remains my favorite. I really like the Uncle Tupelo version, which I described as “a whole lot of fun” in my 2-part series on their discography.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Aphoristical
        April 14, 2019

        Have you heard Bob Theil’s 1982 album So Far? I’m listening to it now, and it’s kind of like Roy Harper with David Gilmour playing some lead guitar.

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      • I’m not familiar with Bob Theil but will keep an eye out for the album based on your description. Of course, Roy Harper has collaborated with David Gilmour, on Pink Floyd’s “Have A Cigar” and Roy’s own “The Game” (both from 1975), and the latter also features John Paul Jones on bass. I’m guessing they’ve played together at other times but those two collaborations immediately came to mind.

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      • Aphoristical
        April 16, 2019

        Yeah, it’s weird comparing Theil to both when they’ve worked together, but it often sounds like Harper with some very Gilmour guitar in place.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. 80smetalman
    April 14, 2019

    Talk about deja vu! I was listening to “I Wanna Be Your Dog” on a compilation CD.

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  4. christiansmusicmusings
    April 14, 2019

    Waw-waw what? That’s quite some cheerful Sunday afternoon listening! 🙂

    I’ve listened to some Stooges music before. While I can’t deny there’s something about the band’s raw sound, for me it’s not exactly love at first sight. But oftentimes I find that music where I have that initial sentiment becomes an acquired taste, and I end up liking it quite a bit!

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    • Haha, cheerful is certainly a word few would associate with The Stooges. I was very surprised at how much I liked this album when I heard it for the first time, and I still can’t fully explain why I feel so strongly about it. I just love the songs and the performances. I hope one day it hits you in a similar way.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Alyson
    April 14, 2019

    Not an album I can comment on at all as you might have guessed, but love rock and pop history and family trees, so always something of interest here. Weird to see that picture of Iggy there looking so young and hydrated. Is that what happens to us, we become dehydrated not of fluid, but of the number of years lived (and Iggy has certainly lived). As for the music, as CMM just said above, it’s not love at first sight/listen, but it could grow on me.

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    • I figured this wouldn’t be an Alyson album or artist but thanks for checking in. Yep, knowing what Iggy has looked like for the last 40+ years, it’s interesting to see his young “hydrated” image from 50 years ago. I know I’ve been drinking a lot more water as I get older, trying to hold off the inevitable shriveling for as long as possible. Sorry to say that the next post in this series will probably be another one you’re not into, but at least I’ll finally be entering the ’70s

      Liked by 1 person

      • Alyson
        April 14, 2019

        Indeed, as the years advance the importance of “hydration” suddenly becomes a lot more important – Most of the aging rockers are lean machines indeed but think they would look better with a few extra pounds on them. All that energy burnt off on stage though – can’t be helped.

        Looking forward to the ’70s, as to be honest, I only experienced ’60s music via the telly when I was young and if the artist didn’t feature on the shows my mum and dad watched or on our beloved Top Of The Pops I didn’t know about them. Of course we learn of them in later life (as you obviously have) but many of these albums featured so far are of the male gender. I have a feeling most of the early ’70s ones will be too – Let’s see.

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      • Looking at my first batch of ’70s Satur-debut albums, I have a feeling only one or two of them will click with you, but I’m hoping that at least a song or two from a couple of those records made an impact on you. We’ll likely be connecting more once we get into the mid-’70s. Time will tell.

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