The Stooges

Not Rated

As we all remember, in 1957, it was conclusively proven that there exists a causal relationship between rock and roll and juvenile delinquency. This record is just another document in support of this thesis.

The Stooges, formerly the Psychedelic Stooges, hail from Ann Arbor, Michigan, where, in case you've never been told, they do things high-powered — high-powered music, high-powered doping, high-powered fucking, high-powered hyping. The Stooges used to share a house with another local band whom they greatly resemble — the MC-5. The picture on the cover of the album shows the Stooges to be four nice middleclass-kids-gone-wrong wearing brand-new synthetic leather jackets and pouting at the camera in a kind of snot-nosed defiance. They don't look at all that bright, although they may be college dropouts, and I'm sure that all the high school kids in the area dig the hell out of them. Three of them play guitar, bass, and drums, while picturesque Iggy sings in a blatantly poor imitation early Jagger style. The instrumentalists sound like they've been playing their axes for two months and playing together for one month at most, and they just love wah-wah and fuzz just like most rank amateur groups. The lyrics are sub-literate, as might be inferred by the titles: "No Fun," "Not Right," "Little Doll," and "Real Cool Time." This last is the monument of the Stooges' artistry: "Can-uh Ah come ovuh/To-gnat-uh?/We will have a real cool tam-uh/We will have a real cool tam-uh ..." Their music is loud, boring, tasteless, unimaginative and childish.

I kind of like it.

Granted that the Stooges are all I have said them to be, how can I explain this away? Well, it is certainly an understatement to say that they have a marked lack of pretension. They are a reductio ad absurdam of rock and roll that might have been thought up by a mad D.A.R. general in a wet dream. They suck, and they know it, so they throw the fact back in your face and say "So what? We're just havin' fun." They emit a raw energy reminiscent of the very earliest British recordings — ever listen to the first two Kinks records? — and while there is ample reason to put them down, the fun is infectious, and that's more than you can say about most of the stuff coming out nowadays.

The album itself is, I am told, far better than the Stooges are in person, where they rely heavily on visual effects and loud freak-out scrapings of guitar strings and bashing of amps. Producer John Cale, a former member of the Velvet Underground, has squeezed everything he could out of them, and he has done a fine job. The only place where the album falls down, it falls with a resounding thud. "We Will Fall" is a ten-minute exercise in boredom that ruins the first side of the record. The rest of it — well, when something is as simple as the Stooges' music, it would take an artist to ruin it.

So, cats and kitties, if you want to have a real cool time, just bop on down to you local platter vendor and pick up the Stooges' record, keeping in mind, of course, that it's loud, boring, tasteless, unimaginative, childish, obnoxious....

From The Archives Issue 543: January 12, 1989
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