Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The Greatest Albums of All Time In No Particular Order (entry # 1)

The Stooges – The Stooges (1969)

First off I know I am going to get guff that this is not even the Stooges best album. Yes, there are a billion devotees of “Funhouse” and “Raw Power” each. Well, F off. It's my list, remember??? I even had a “tete a tete” with the noted chef/TV personality, “Mad” Anthony Bourdain, on this matter when my hockey mate and fellow U-M sports aficionado, Brendan, attended his book signing/dinner at the Heathman Hotel (Tony's a good bud of the chef there) in June of 06'. Well of course he prefers “Funhouse”-he readily admits to being a horse jockey/junkie in the 70s so it makes all kinds of sense. Whereas, the first album seems to be all speed and weed to me. So I presume, that is my bias, OK???

I start here because very recently Stooges guitarist, Ron Asheton, left this mortal coil (usefull trivia-Circle Confusion's drummer, Aaron Jones, lived across the street from Ron-both of their moms owned the houses they lived in) which is a shame. The first Stooges album is both a classic AND incredibly influential. To me, it is punk before there was punk after there was punk. While the only true Sex Pistol album, “Never Mind the Bollocks” is all fun and good, it's clearly a joke compared to this album. This disk is pure nasty, skanky, horrifying SE Michigan/Detroit death at its finest. It is dirty and grimy and ugly and sexy and hot. Just like most of the chicks in the area.

You got two songs directly about chicks (“Ann” and “Little Doll”). You have to wonder who were these chicks and what were they like in the “flesh”. They must have been something to drive the Igster wild the way they did (Iggy trembles to start in Ann, “You took my arm and you broke my will”). “Ann” continues, creepily builds to a crescendo of the most direct, heaviest, brutal and beautifully repetitious guitar attack ever laid down that pounds your noggin over and over again. You will know this if you have listened to the remastered sessions released in 07' because back in the day record companies tended to fiddle with and cut tracks after the sessions in order to make songs shorter and the Stooges had zero control over this as did producer John Cale. The remastered version that finally saw the light of day thankfully lets this riff roll and roll for about 4 mind numbingly glorious minutes while the original version only had about 30 seconds of this. In short, longer is always better.

What else? Oh, where to begin. So start at the beginning. “1969” says it all about the times, particularly after the race riots of Detroit in the summer of 68' and the much needed death of the hippy joke of SF/Haight “hate” Asbury. Then there is “I Wanna Be Your Dog”-the greatest love song ever written I do declare. Side two leads off with “No Fun”-the box end to “1969”-man, it's a bad year but the hate is great for the Stooges-at least there is confrontation and they are “alive”. But then they say screw that, we didn't mean it with “Real Cool Time” but wait a minute, she's “Not Right” (are they referencing the previous track, the aforementioned “Ann”-who knows or cares-every time I'm listening my skull is having a real cool time as “Little Doll” closes it out.).

So yes, there is room to argue on the merits of their first three proper albums before their early 70s breakup. But at least they called it quits in time (I do politely discount the reunion and the new album from last year-at least they stayed apart for twenty five years or so before deciding to cash in a little-assholes). Sonic Youth, who did a great cover of “I Wanna Be Your Dog” early in their career could most certainly learn a lesson though it appears to be too late.


jpbenney said...

Your point about the first two Stooges albums having more devotees than the first might pale into insignificance when you see that the Stooges were the only band to have all their albums listed among the must-won albums of the brilliant The MOJO Collection. That says something about their importance.

BaliBrasil said...

You mean numeros dos & tres, right?