As Billie Joe Armstrong says at the end of this speech, “It’s about fucking time.” More so than any other band, The Stooges represented the wild side of rock and roll. When their self-titled album came out in 1969, the country was in turmoil. And while other bands and artists protested through their words, The Stooges protested in the only way they knew best – loud, aggressive, and in-your-face rock and roll. It didn’t matter if the word sounded like they were thrown together. The simplicity in the lyrics and the music was a double finger finger to both overblown lyrics and psychedelic rock. Without Iggy and the Stooges there would be no punk rock. Period.
One of the things I’ve noticed about their self-titled debut though, is how much it is based on the early rock & roll of the ’50s. Even though I Wanna Be Your Dog and 1969 are drenched in Ron Asheton’s wah-wahs they also contain a Bo Diddley rhythm and Buddy Holly-eque simplicity in the songwriting. 1973’s Raw Power is a bit different, but it still retains the same spirit. Coming at at time when rock was at its most bloated – The Who’s Quadrophenia, Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon were released that year, and Led Zeppelin was touring the US playing 45 minute versions of “Dazed and Confused” – Raw Power lived up to its title. Rock singers with the golden god complex were put in their place when Iggy screamed, “Your pretty face is going to hell!”
Jim Morrison (who I can’t stand) and Mick Jagger (who I love) are often cited as two of the greatest frontmen in rock. But the title really belongs to Iggy. He (almost) single-handed invented the stage-dive, and proved that peanut butter was good for another thing besides eating. Sometimes you get the feeling that a lot of front-men have a persona on stage. Though Iggy says he does turn off the stage act, I can’t see the energy that he possesses dissolve instantly. I can totally see him bouncing around his living room to whatever he’s listening – because that’s simply how he exists.
Audio only, but check out The Stooges playing live in 73: