Punk’s Grandaddy

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Title: Gimme Danger

Rating: 5 Stars

This is a documentary about The Stooges, a band so far ahead of its time that it never met commercial success but now nearly 50 years later is hailed as one of the greatest, most meaningful bands of all time. As Iggy Pop claims, The Stooges killed the sixties. He might not be wrong.

Although Scott Asheton, James Williamson, Danny Fields, and a couple of other people are interviewed, this is Iggy’s movie. Considering everything that he’s done and has been through, the fact that not only is he cogent, but actually remembers everything and speaks with great intelligence and sensitivity about music, the band, and the time he lived in speaks eloquently to the strength of the Osterberg genetic material.

Iggy started, while still in his teens, a band called The Iguanas. Knowing what Iggy later does and ultimately becomes, it’s pretty hilarious to see the still photos of him in a tie and suit with his band mates.

After the band breaks up, Iggy, deciding that he was sick of looking at everyone’s butts (he claims that Abdul Fakir from The Four Tops had the nicest butt to watch), decides to give up the drums.

Iggy moves to Chicago to play with the big boys. While there he started to play in some blues bands. He smokes a big joint and comes to the realization that he isn’t black and that he should do for white people what black people did for blues, music specifically for himself.

Among his influences, he somehow makes a trip to the Rouge River plant, which is the main plant for Ford. While there he sees some presses making tremendous noises. He called it a mega clang. This was one of the factors that later would cause him to want to emulate large mechanical noises.

Back in Ann Arbor, he forms the band The Psychedelic Stooges. They start opening up for the MC5 at church youth centers and basements. Eventually the MC5 get large enough that they attract a talent scout, Danny Fields (a legend, by the way, ending up working with Jim Morrison, the Velvet Underground, and The Ramones, among others). Danny ends up signing both MC5 and the Stooges (the psychedelic is dropped at this point).

Their first album was produced by John Cale. The Stooges refused to compromise on their musical vision and insisted on playing loud and raw. As Iggy says, they compromised with Cale by agreeing to turn their amplifies down to 9.

Iggy’s manager at one time wanted him to go to Broadway and play the role of Peter Pan. Iggy instead mentioned that his idea for his next career move was to star in a movie about the Manson family. Literally days after that, his manager dropped The Stooges as a client and kicked them out of the house they were living in.

Not one of the original members, but James Williamson was also an important figure in The Stooges. An awesome guitar player, he forced the other Stooges to adapt to his sound (specifically for Raw Power). Later, James and Iggy have a falling out and James leaves The Stooges. For a while he tried to be a recording engineer but decided that he hated it. Instead, he went to back to school, got an electrical engineering degree, and ended up spending his career in Silicon Valley. He worked at AMD and ended up a vice president at Sony. Among other things he helped design the Blue Ray standard. Apparently his co-workers never had any idea of his Stooges career.

After Williamson retired from Sony, Iggy contacted him and asked if he wanted to tour again. He hadn’t played a guitar in thirty years. He said yes, of course, and sure enough, there is footage of him, the retired high tech vice president, jamming on stage with Iggy.

Maybe you have to already be a Stooges fan and predisposed to the subject matter, but I thoroughly enjoyed this movie. It was full of facts and stories that I’d never heard before, as you can tell from the regurgitation of stories that I just poured out. Iggy is a great tour guide through his life and this movie is a testament to the greatness that are The Stooges.

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