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The Stooges



During the psychedelic haze of the late '60s, the grimy, noisy, and relentlessly bleak rock & roll of the Stooges was conspicuously out of time. Like the Velvet Underground, the Stooges revealed the underside of sex, drugs, and rock & roll, showing all of the grime beneath the myth. The Stooges, however, weren't nearly as cerebral as the Velvets. Taking their cue from the over-amplified pounding of British blues, the primal raunch of American garage rock, and the psychedelic rock (as well as the audience-baiting) of the Doors, the Stooges were raw, immediate, and vulgar. Iggy Pop became notorious for performing smeared in blood or peanut butter and diving into the audience. Ron and Scott Asheton formed a ridiculously primitive rhythm section, pounding out chords with no finesse -- in essence, the Stooges were the first rock & roll band completely stripped of the swinging beat that epitomized R&B and early rock & roll. During the late '60s and early '70s, the group was an underground sensation, yet the band was too weird, too dangerous to break into the mainstream. Following three albums, the Stooges disbanded, but the group's legacy grew over the next two decades, as legions of underground bands used their sludgy grind as a foundation for a variety of indie rock styles, and as Iggy Pop became a pop culture icon. After playing in several local bands in Ann Arbor, Michigan, including the blues band the Prime Movers and the Iguanas, Iggy Pop (born James Osterberg) formed the Stooges in 1967 after witnessing a Doors concert on the University of Michigan campus. Adopting the name Iggy Stooge, he rounded up brothers Ron and Scott Asheton (guitar and drums, respectively) and bassist Dave Alexander, and the group debuted at a house party in 1967. For the next year, the group played the Midwest relentlessly, earning a reputation for wild, primitive performances, which were largely reviled. In particular, Iggy gained attention for his bizarre on-stage behavior. Performing shirtless, he would smear steaks and peanut butter on his body, cut himself with glass, and dive into the audience. The Stooges were infamous, not famous -- while they had a rabidly devoted core audience, even more people detested their shock tactics. Nevertheless, the group lucked into a major-label record contract in 1968 when an Elektra talent scout went to Detroit to see the MC5 and wound up signing their opening act, the Stooges, as well. Produced by John Cale, the Stooges' primitive eponymous debut was released in 1969, and while it generated some attention in the underground press, it barely sold any copies. During the recording of the Stooges' second album, members of the band were introduced to heroin, which quickly took a heavy toll on the group. As the Stooges prepared to release their sophomore album, every member sank deeper into substance abuse (except for Ron Asheton, who became increasingly frustrated with his bandmates as instruments and gear were pawned to pay for drugs), and their excess eventually surfaced in their concerts, not only through Iggy's antics, but also in the fact that the band could barely keep a simple, two-chord riff afloat. Fun House, an atonal barrage of avant noise, appeared in 1970 and, if it was even noticed, it earned generally negative reviews and sold even fewer copies than the debut, though it was belatedly hailed as a masterpiece. Following the commercial failure of Fun House, the Stooges essentially disintegrated, as Iggy sank deep into heroin addiction. At first, he did try to keep the Stooges afloat. Dave Alexander was fired after a lackluster performance at the 1970 Goose Lake Rock Festival, and Zeke Zettner took his place. In 1971, a new lineup of the Stooges emerged, with Ron Asheton and Bill Cheatham sharing duties on guitar, Zettner on bass, Scott Asheton on drums, and Iggy on vocals. Several months later, Cheatham and Zettner quit the band, and James Williamson became the new Stooges guitarist, while Jimmy Recca joined as bassist. While live recordings exist of the Asheton/Williamson lineup, they never went into the studio, and for a spell the Stooges went dormant. Early in 1972, Pop happened to run into David Bowie, then at the height of his Ziggy Stardust popularity and an avowed Stooges fan. Bowie made it his mission to resuscitate Iggy & the Stooges, as the band was then billed. Iggy and Williamson were signed to a management deal with MainMan, the firm guiding Bowie's career, and the new edition of the band scored a deal with Columbia Records. Temporarily based in London and unable to find a suitable rhythm section in the U.K., Iggy and Williamson invited the Asheton brothers to join the new group, with Scott on drums and Ron moved to bass. Iggy produced the third Stooges album, Raw Power, and Bowie handled the mix. Released in 1973 to surprisingly strong reviews, Raw Power had a weird, thin sound due to various technical problems. Although this would be the cause of much controversy later on -- many Stooges purists blamed Bowie for the brittle mix -- its razor-thin audio and fierce attack helped kick-start the punk revolution. At the time, however, Raw Power flopped, essentially bringing the Stooges' career to a halt, with the band's disastrous final gig in Detroit in February 1974 captured on the live album Metallic K.O. In 1976, Bowie once again came to Iggy's rescue, helping him establish himself as a solo act by producing the albums The Idiot and Lust for Life, and playing keyboards in Iggy's road band. In time, Iggy established an international following as one of rock's great renegades, but the other Stooges didn't fare quite as well. Dave Alexander died of pneumonia in 1975, aggravated by an inflamed pancreas. James Williamson returned to Iggy's circle as a songwriter and producer on the albums New Values (1979) and Soldier (1980), but in the '80s he dropped out of music and began a successful career in electronics. Ron Asheton launched a band called the New Order (no relation to the successful British group), but it didn't fare well and soon split up. In 1981, Ron Asheton was recruited to join New Race, a short-lived side project formed by Radio Birdman guitarist Deniz Tek that also featured MC5 drummer Dennis Thompson and Radio Birdman alumni Rob Younger and Warwick Gilbert. However, the group (as intended) split after a single Australian tour and album. After returning to Michigan, Ron gigged periodically with Destroy All Monsters and Dark Carnival, acted in a handful of low-budget films, and in 1998 he recorded with the ad hoc band Wylde Ratttz, featuring Thurston Moore and Steve Shelley of Sonic Youth, Mark Arm from Mudhoney, and Mike Watt, ex-Minutemen and fIREHOSE. Wylde Ratttz's cover of "TV Eye" appeared on the soundtrack of the film Velvet Goldmine, but the group's album remained unreleased. Following the Stooges breakup, Scott Asheton played with a few local groups in Detroit before joining Sonic's Rendezvous Band in 1974, with Fred "Sonic" Smith of the MC5, Scott Morgan of the Rationals, and Gary Rasmussen of the Up; the band earned a potent reputation as a live act, but record labels were wary and the group slowly faded out by the end of the decade. In 2002, Ron Asheton and Scott Asheton joined J Mascis + the Fog for a tour in which they performed a handful of Stooges classics from the group's first two albums. The shows were enthusiastically received, especially in Europe, and word got back to Iggy Pop, who had been talking with Ron Asheton on and off for several years about a possible Stooges reunion. In 2003, Iggy was recording the album Skull Ring, which featured contributions from a number of noteworthy bands, and he decided to add the Stooges to the roster; the Asheton brothers backed Iggy on four cuts (with Ron handling both guitar and bass), and on April 27, 2003, the Stooges played their first concert in 30 years at California's Coachella festival, with Mike Watt sitting in for the late Dave Alexander. The reunited Stooges began hitting the road on a semi-regular basis for the next three years, playing major festivals in Europe and the United States, and in the fall of 2006 the group entered Electrical Audio Studio in Chicago, Illinois with engineer Steve Albini to record The Weirdness, an album culled from 22 new songs written by Pop and the Ashetons. The Weirdness was released in March 2007, followed by a major world tour. The Weirdness was greeted with mixed reviews but the accompanying tour was warmly received. Sadly, Ron Asheton was found dead in his Ann Arbor home on January 6, 2009. By May of that year, Iggy began talking about continuing the Stooges with Raw Power-era guitarist James Williamson replacing Ron. In November of 2009, this newly revamped Stooges debuted, and they kept going strong into the new millennium, beginning with their 2010 induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, running through a deluxe 2010 reissue of Raw Power, and continuing into 2013, when the Williamson-fueled Stooges released a new album called Ready to Die in April. Scott Asheton played on Ready to Die, but he soon dropped out of the Stooges' touring lineup due to health problems, with Toby Dammit (aka Larry Mullins) taking over on drums. Sadly, Ready to Die would be Scott Asheton's last hurrah; he died on March 15, 2014. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine & Mark Deming
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Top Tracks

  1.   Track
  2.   I Wanna Be Your Dog
  3.   Search and Destroy
  4.   T.V. Eye
  5.   No Fun
  6.   Gimme Danger
  7.   1970
  8.   Loose
  9.   Down on the Street
  10.   Your Pretty Face Is Going to Hell
  11.   Dirt
  12.   Shake Appeal
  13.   1969
  14.   Fun House
  15.   Penetration
  16.   Tight Pants
  17.   I Got a Right
  18.   Do You Want Me Love?
  19.   Head on Curve
  20.   Slide (Slidin' the Blues) (Take 1)
  21.   Louie Louie
  22.   Johanna
  23.   I'm Hungry
  24.   Asthma Attack
  25.   I Got Right by Iggy Pop
  26.   Sister midnight
  27.   Going to Ungano's
  28.   Dying Breed
  29.   The Departed
  30.   Gun
  31.   Job
  32.   I'm Sick Of You
  33.   Rubber Legs
  34.   Purple Haze
  35.   Born In A Trailer
  36.   The Children of the Night
  37.   The Weirdness
  38.   Jesus Loves the Stooges
  39.   Rock Star
  40.   Mellow Down Easy
  41.   You Don't Want My Name
  42.   See That Cat
  43.   Ann
  44.   Hard to Beat
  45.   Cock in My Pocket
  46.   I Need Somebody
  47.   I Feel Alright
  48.   Heavy Liquid
  49.   Nightclubbing
  50.   Freak
  51.   Scene Of The Crime
  52.   Dirty Deal
  53.   Gimme Some Skin
  54.   Pinpoint Eyes/Cry For Me
  55.   Instrumental
  56.   Hey, Peter
  57.   01 1969
  58.   Have Some Fun/My Dream Is Dead
  59.   Beat That Guy
  60.   DD's
  61.   Ready to Die
  62.   Unfriendly World
  63.   Sex & Money
  64.   Burn
  65.   Burning Up
  66.   Fire Engine
  67.   Wild Love
  68.   Head On
  69.   Cry For Me
  70.   I'm So Glad
  71.   The Ballad Of Hollis Brown
  72.   I'm A Man
  73.   [Untitled] by Jimmy Recca
  74.   Do You Want Me Love?/Feedback/Goodnight
  75.   The Shadow of Your Smile
  76.   Do You Want My Love?
  77.   Dead Body (Or Over My Dead Body)/Who Do You Love
  78.   Big Time Bum
  79.   Purple Haze
  80.   Introduction
  81.   Doojiman
  82.   What You Gonna Do?
  83.   My Girl Hates My Heroin
  84.   Trollin'
  85.   You Can't Have Friends
  86.   ATM
  87.   My Idea of Fun
  88.   Greedy Awful People
  89.   She Took My Money
  90.   The End of Christianity
  91.   Mexican Guy
  92.   Passing Cloud
  93.   I Need Somebody-Sweet Child-I Like the Way You Walk
  94.   Dick Clark Interview
  95.   Rubber Legs #2
  96.   Cry for Me/Pinpoint Eyes
  97.   Rubber Legs #1
  98.   Untitled (Hey Baby)
  99.   Money (That's What I Want)
  100.   I Got a Right + GTR Solo
  101.   Idea of Fun
  102.   Electric Chair (Encore)
  103.   Skull Ring
  104.   You Better Run
  105.   Move Ass Baby
  106.   Look So Sweet
  107.   Old King Live Forever
  108.   Delta Blues Shuffle
  109.   I Come From Nowhere
  110.   Lost in the Future
  111.   Studio Dialogue
  112.   Till the End of the Night
  113.   Wild Love
  114.   Rich Bitch
  115.   Winners & Losers/Scene of the Crime
  116.   Shake Appeal/Tight Pants
  117.   Cock in My Pocket
  118.   I'm So Glad
  119.   How It Hurts
  120.   Gimme Some Skin
  121.   We Will Fall
  122.   L.A. Blues
  123.   Little Doll
  124.   Not Right
  125.   Wet My Bed
  126.   Born in a Trailer
  127.   Open up and Bleed
  128.   Cry for Me
  129.   Real Cool Time
  130.   I'm a Man
  131.   The Ballad of Hollis Brown
  132.   Head On
  133.   Death Trip
  134.   Open up and Bleed
  135.   Raw Power
  136.   I Got Nothing
  137.   Iggy Talks
  138.   Band Talk with the Audience
  139.   Fire Engine
  140.   Free & Freaky
  141.   Rubber Legs
  142.   Fresh Rag (Or New York Pussy Smells Like Dog Shit)
  143.   Hey Baby
  144.   Louie Louie
  145.   Johanna
  146.   She Creatures of the Hollywood Hills
  147.   I'm Fried
  148.   She Creatures of the Hollywood Hills
  149.   Can't Turn You Loose
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