The Stooges – The Stooges (1969)

Album no. 172/1001

It’s the first appearance by the godfather of punk, and winner of the most leathery body award – Iggy Pop!

Touted as the MC5’s ‘little brother band’, The Stooges tore up Michigan stages (literally) before they were signed to Elektra, and realised they had to record more than 5 songs. They wrote a couple more the night before they started recording and played them for the first time in the studio. They were a really organised bunch.

One of the album’s first mixes was actually done by our old Welsh mate John Cale – but Elektra rejected it. If you really want to hear John’s version, it was released as part of a bonus edition in 2005.

Have you listened to this album before?

CL: I know a couple of songs from this album, but not the whole thing. I prefer some of the later Stooges stuff – which happily appears on this list.

NK: I know a few tracks, but I’ve never listened to the whole thing.

Standout track

CL: NOW I WANNA…BE YOUR DOG. What a bloody tune and a half. Easily the best on this album and would definitely crack top 5 for Iggy Pop. I particularly like the jingle bells in the background – maybe this could substitute for a christmas carol? (note: it will NOT substitute for a christmas carol).

NK: Remember poor old Eddie getting turned over by Harry Lonsdale? That might have been the first time I ever heard ‘I Wanna Be Your Dog’. That was a great soundtrack, featuring appearances from no less than five albums off this list.

CL: I like so many things about this album – Iggy’s snotty drawl, the simplicity of the melodies and their primitive lyrics. Like in ‘Real Cool Time’:

“Can I come over tonight? I said we will have a real cool time, tonight. We will have a real cool time. A real cool time, tonight.” – Those are my sort of lyrics, thanks.

NK: I am always surprised by the wah wah on ‘1969’, it’s not what I expect the Stooges to sound like. That, ‘I Wanna Be Your Dog’ and ‘No Fun’ are my top tracks from this. They really had their sound nailed down. Stripped back, fierce, loud. A pretty impressive debut, Starting how they meant to go on.

When would be the best time to listen to this?

CL: This has been a tonic for me after the guitar-noodly nonsense we’ve had over the past few weeks. It’s the sort of music that will blow the cobwebs out of your ears and punch you right in the guts.

NK: This album is pretty rough and ready, and it doesn’t mess around (apart from ‘We Will Fall’ which goes for ten minutes and is my pick for the weakest track on the album). This album sounds like a hangover.

Why has this album been included on the list?

CL: The thing that sells it for me is how they sound like they could just disintegrate at any second. The music is so rough, it’s one bum note from falling over. Given how everyone else in the music scene was trying to polish their sound and over-complicate everything, this was such a breath of fresh air and went a really long way in showing that you didn’t have to be an expert in playing music to play music. The first of the three-chord bands.

NK: If you’re looking for landmarks along the road to punk I think you have to mention this. There is a bit of variance, but most songs here are gritty guitar-led power numbers that don’t go very long. The Stooges had more improvisation and solos than later punk did, but this is a step in that direction for sure.

Will you be listening again?  

CL: Yeah I will. It’s not my favourite, but it’s still great.

NK: Probably, yeah.

Rating

CL: This is possibly one of the worst things I’ve ever heard. I’m removing it from my iTunes without delay. It was offensive to my eardrums.This is possibly one of the worst things I’ve ever heard. I’m removing it from my iTunes without delay. It was offensive to my eardrums.This is possibly one of the worst things I’ve ever heard. I’m removing it from my iTunes without delay. It was offensive to my eardrums.This is possibly one of the worst things I’ve ever heard. I’m removing it from my iTunes without delay. It was offensive to my eardrums.

NK: This is possibly one of the worst things I’ve ever heard. I’m removing it from my iTunes without delay. It was offensive to my eardrums.This is possibly one of the worst things I’ve ever heard. I’m removing it from my iTunes without delay. It was offensive to my eardrums.This is possibly one of the worst things I’ve ever heard. I’m removing it from my iTunes without delay. It was offensive to my eardrums.This is possibly one of the worst things I’ve ever heard. I’m removing it from my iTunes without delay. It was offensive to my eardrums.

Listen to The Stooges on Spotify or buy it in iTunes.

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