Iggy Pops Off

Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook

Don’t miss our updates:

Iggy Pop (center) and the Stooges. | AMAZON STUDIOS & MAGNOLIA PICTURES
Iggy Pop (center) and the Stooges. | AMAZON STUDIOS & MAGNOLIA PICTURES

“Gimme danger, little stranger,” sings the Stooges’ Iggy Pop on the song that lends its title to Jim Jarmusch’s documentary on the band. He was probably thinking of an exciting sexual encounter, but the power of the Stooges’ music is so primal that it suggests something a whole lot more serious and sinister. Danger to the Stooges themselves, first and foremost.

Original bassist Dave Alexander passed away of pneumonia in 1975, and today Iggy is the sole survivor from the band’s original lineup. That taste of danger would prove intoxicating to future musicians – Jarmusch includes a montage of various punk bands covering Stooges songs in the late ‘70s – but it drove away hippie audiences who, in 1969, the year of Woodstock, didn’t want to hear there was really nothing to do, as the first song on the first Stooges album says. If you were a working-class teenager stuck in Michigan, however, the ‘60s no doubt looked a whole lot less exciting.

Jarmusch has always been an unconventional director, but never a flashy one. His Neil Young doc “Year of the Horse” was fine but somewhat workmanlike. “Gimme Danger” brings somewhat more visual pizzazz to the project, with sparingly used but witty animation. Jarmusch also shows his sense of humor by editing in clips from TV shows and Hollywood movies. These are actually quite creative.

Giving voice to its front man, Jim Jarmusch lets the Stooges have their due

Iggy grew up in a trailer, and he talks about identifying the same model in Vincente Minnelli’s Lucille Ball vehicle “The Long, Long Trailer.” Jarmusch shows a clip from “The Ten Commandments” when Iggy describes his attraction to ancient Egyptian pharaohs. He uses an ancient anti-drug educational film to illustrate Iggy’s recollections of his introduction to heroin. As critic Richard Porton pointed out, this use of found footage actually isn’t far off from politically-minded British documentarian Adam Curtis, even if Jarmusch has less lofty goals.

“Gimme Danger” includes interviews with most of the major figures involved with the Stooges saga – Jarmusch was fortunate to talk to saxophonist Steve Mackay and drummer Scott Asheton, who have died within the past two years, and get archival interviews with guitarist/ bassist Ron Asheton, who died in 2009 – but it’s Iggy’s story. Fortunately, Iggy turns out to be a great raconteur. Jarmusch passes the microphone to him and lets him take control of most of the film.

The original Stooges lineup only recorded two albums; a second incarnation featuring guitarist James Williamson recorded a third, 1973’s “Raw Power,” before imploding into a mess described at the beginning of “Gimme Danger” and recorded on several live albums. Like many artists who become legendary after their deaths, that slim discography has been padded by an endless series of demo collections, most of them not worth one’s while, as well as a box set containing every single take recorded for their second album, “Funhouse.” That album, which mixed jazz and funk into their garage-rock stew, may represent the band’s peak. After its release, they went on the road, playing a series of rock festivals and gradually gaining greater popularity despite a lack of radio airplay or label support. But at one of these festivals Iggy first tried heroin, and the band soon became a debacle. Riddled with constant lineup changes, they were dropped by Elektra Records in 1971 before a third album could be completed.

“Gimme Danger” makes a case for the Stooges as serious avant-gardists, not just noisemakers. Iggy recalls buying Sun Ra and Pharoah Sanders albums while working at a record store, as well as drumming for blues musicians in Chicago. The Stooges would smoke pot together and listen in the dark to the adventurous classical music of Harry Partch, performed on the composer’s self-invented instruments. They took the noise experiments of the early Who, the Jimi Hendrix Experience, and the Velvet Underground (whose multi-instrumentalist John Cale produced their first album) one step further, but their take on rock was distinctly adolescent and Midwestern, not arty or virtuoso. To an undiscerning listener, their first album’s lyrics sound really dumb; in a world where Philip Glass can alternate between two notes on a synthesizer and call it classical music, the simplicity of “no fun, my babe/ no fun” is far from stupid.

Jarmusch’s direction may not entirely do justice to such formally radical music – especially side two of “Funhouse,” which is full of free-form noise and John Coltrane-inspired saxophone squalls – but he knows how to get out of the way and let Iggy tell his own story.

GIMME DANGER | Directed by Jim Jarmusch | Amazon Studios/ Magnolia Pictures | Opens Oct. 28 | Film Society of Lincoln Center, 144-165 W. 65th St. |

Updated 5:17 pm, July 20, 2018
Today’s news:
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook

Don’t miss our updates:

Reader feedback

sabrent driver says:
Great one keep it up.
March 5, 2017, 4:26 am
mtoolss says:
Amazing keep it up....
March 19, 2017, 2:47 am
bond550 says:
This article was written by a real thinking writer. I agree many of the with the solid points made by the writer. I’ll be back. dentist near me
March 3, 2018, 5:35 pm
jamsmalik says:
Great Article it its really informatGreat Article it its really informative and innovative keep us posted with new updates. its was really valuable. thanks a lot. best commercial snow cone machine
March 6, 2018, 10:03 am
jamsmalik says:
This is actually the kind of information I have been trying to find. Thank you for writing this information. johnsons baby wipes
March 16, 2018, 1:20 pm
jamsmalik says:
I wish more authors of this type of content would take the time you did to research and write so well. I am very impressed with your vision and insight.
March 18, 2018, 10:20 am
gandapas6 says:
Only aspire to mention ones content can be as incredible. This clarity with your post is superb and that i may think you’re a guru for this issue. High-quality along with your concur permit me to to seize your current give to keep modified by using approaching blog post. Thanks a lot hundreds of along with you should go on the pleasurable get the job done. moving companies in south florida
April 1, 2018, 9:54 am
gandapas6 says:
I found your this post while searching for some related information on blog search...Its a good post..keep posting and update the information. saldos de ropa
April 4, 2018, 10:41 am
purified111 says:
Thanks for the post and great tips..even I also think that hard work is the most important aspect of getting success.. percentuale online
May 16, 2018, 12:04 pm
jamsmalik says:
That is really nice to hear. thank you for the update and good luck. TheGardenGranny
May 29, 2018, 2:14 pm

Comments closed.


Schneps Community News Group

Don’t miss out!

Stay in touch with your community. Subscribe to our free newsletter: