The New RS 500: #488 The Stooges — The Stooges
Release Date: August 5, 1969
Label: Elektra Records
Have I heard this album before? Yes lol
2003 List Ranking: 185; 2012 List Ranking: 185; Does the move feel appropriate?: No, motherfucker, it does not! For an album to stay at the same ranking for a decade and then drop over 300 spots, when it should probably have moved up 100 spots, sucks shit!
Is This Album One of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time? Yes!
Review: Okay, we’re gonna go a little long with this one. The Stooges are a top 3 band of all-time for me and they aren’t number 3 (they’re number 2 idk why I’m being coy). While this is, personally, my “least” favorite album of theirs, as I indicated above, I still Love this album. So I figured I’d do a little track-by-track thing, as opposed to my one-paragraph usual spiel. This album rocks and it also rolls. Guitars have never sounded this good. Iggy Pop is a little freak possessed with the charisma of a movie star and the voice of a demon. Sit back and relax, let’s fucking go.
“1969” — Mick Jagger could never. Keith Richards could motherfucking NEVER. The handclaps in this song! I know he’s covered a bunch of their other songs but this one really feels like the genesis of everything that is J Mascis. When I first heard this as a little 15-year old I thought for the first half of the song “okay cool little Rolling Stones sounding song” and then Ron Asheton started doing his wah + fuzz solo and Iggy started shouting like a banshee over it and I found out I Like Punk Music. Oh my, boohoo.
“I Wanna Be Your Dog” — Dumb idiots who are fools try to talk about Riffs like they’re some mythological thing that’s so difficult to do when in reality the best riff of all time is just three power chords thrown together in descending order. The key to making this riff the GOAT and not, like, a Tool song is having the guitar cab sound like the speaker is gonna explode literally any second. Ron Asheton did that. This is power pop and it’s perhaps the most Powerful Pop. The goddamn sleigh bells! John Cale, man.
“We Will Fall” — The sole blight on an otherwise perfect record. The Stooges are the most fun and exciting band on the planet. This song is the opposite of fun. It’s a funeral dirge that sounds like it was composed by George Harrison, but somehow not as cool as that sounds. Again, Ron Asheton’s playing makes the wah sound cool, which is not always a given, but Iggy sounds as bored singing this song as I feel listening to all 10+ minutes of it. With no hesitation, I say this is the worst of the pre-reunion The Stooges songs.
“No Fun” — This should have been the title of the last song! “No Fun” is fun as hell!! I’m sure Ron Asheton isn’t using an actual fuzz pedal since it was 1969 and it’s just an amp pushed to the brink or whatever but, again, this is the ideal guitar tone. Just sounds like it’s gonna rip out of the speaker at any time. It’s Garbage and it’s Great. Also more handclaps. The percussion on this album outside of the drums is really something special.
“Real Cool Time” — I expected going into discussing this album to spend most of my time talking about Iggy Pop but now that my Medium-fingers are going, I’m realizing how much of my enjoyment of this album is tied directly to Ron Asheton. Dude is just fucking ripping all over this. His solo in the right-speaker (if you’re listening in stereo) almost feels like it’s of an entirely different song, with no tether to what Iggy is doing. But in a great way! I really adore this song.
“Ann” — Perhaps the most obvious Iggy showcase on the album. It’s not my favorite vocal performance of his on the album, but it’s probably the one most driven by him and not Ron, or Dave Alexander’s bass. Also, credit goes to John Cale: this is the one where you can feel his DNA as a producer probably the most, sounding the most like what could have been a cut from The Velvet Underground’s White Light/White Heat.
“Not Right” — I haven’t mentioned Scott Asheton’s drumming yet, which feels a little rude, but his groove on this is so good. It almost feels like something from a Max Roach improvisation, but made to fit with a punk band, especially his little fills from 1:40 to 2:00. I’m a bit of a dunce when it comes to drums, but they Sound Good here. Good as hell.
“Little Doll” — Ultimately, The Stooges are a bit of an oddity, as much as I love them, in that none of their three albums really sound the same. This debut is a bit more of a traditional pop album, albeit with some tendencies that would be found later in punk and with some noisiness that only really The Kinks were matching. But, with the exception of “We Will Fall,” when the songs are boiled down, they’re ultimately just pop structures, which doesn’t really seem to be the case on Funhouse, which some of the artsier structures, and Raw Power, whose name speaks for itself. “Little Doll” might be the most pop of the ’60s on the album though, with its debt to blues and Chuck Berry. A fitting end to this wonderful album and this era of the band.