Home' Rhythms Magazine : 2017 Mar-Apr Contents 86 Rhythms
CELEBRATING 25 YEARS OF RHYTHMS MAGAZINE -
Iggy Pop’s performance at Festival Hall in Melbourne,
some decades ago now, remains one of the most amusing
concerts I have ever seen. Extraordinarily theatrical,
Iggy played out every cliché with which he had become
associated the exaggerated movements that make him look
like Mick Jagger on bad drugs, the constant profanities
(much too mild a description) and the almost as constant
spitting (sometimes at the audience). As the people in the
mosh pit went nuts I suspect that Iggy was as amused as I
was – he had them in the palms of his hands.
Ever since, I have had a fondness for Mr Pop, as if we share
a joke that none else gets. He might have been posing as a
punk, but he seemed to also be the consummate entertainer.
It is easy to see the appeal that Iggy and The Stooges would
have for a filmmaker such as Jim Jarmusch whose use of
music and musicians in his films has become a hallmark.
Just roll the cameras and Iggy is sure to give you great
Iggy is a great interviewee, but Jarmusch, who calls The
Stooges “the greatest rock ‘n’ roll band ever,” concentrates
on the music while the lascivious backstage details of one
of the most outrageous bands of all time is all but ignored.
Surprisingly, given his allegedly debauched lifestyle Pop
recalls much of what happened in vivid detail. Was he really
as badly behaved as the myth would have us believe?
Jarmusch takes a relatively straight-forward approach,
throwing in some interesting effects and animation, relying
on his subjects rather than trying to reinvent the music
documentary genre which I thought perhaps he might have
some fun doing. Not just for fans, this is a document that
seeks to convince non-believers and also appeal to those
who have never heard of The Stooges. It is the measure of a
great documentary when it can attract the neophyte.
This might be the man who vomited on stage, rolled in
broken glass and smeared himself in blood but that is not
the Iggy represented here. Nor is Pop’s solo career, which
is still thriving, examined in any detail – which is strange
because it is, unlike Mick Jagger’s, substantial. Instead,
Jarmusch seems intent on making sure that The Stooges
take their rightful place in the Pantheon of great rock bands.
There is a compelling case that Iggy and his colleagues
directly influenced The Ramones, The Sex Pistols and
others who are credited with starting the punk movement.
Iggy was a punk long before the term got commercialised.
The music certainly provides ample evidence of this and
the rawness of the recordings and potency of the live shows
still impress decades after the bands heyday.
Despite its flaws, Gimme Danger is like its front man –
wildly entertaining – and one of the best documentaries
that I have recently seen. Of course, it is beautifully made
as you would expect from Jarmusch and he is hugely
assisted by the fact that Iggy is such an articulate, witty and
The other members of The Stooges are not quite so
entertaining, apart from James Williamson, who escaped
the band to become a highly successful electronics
engineer, returning after guitarist Ron Asheton died in
One of the most amusing stories concerns the name of
the band and how Iggy checked with Moe Howard of the
famous comedy team the Three Stooges who told him he
was free to use The Stooges part of the moniker. Elsewhere,
Pop recalls how he lived in a trailer at his parents’ house
and local teenagers would attempt to tip it over. (“Ever
since, I’ve been trying to get ‘em,” he says.) He also
confesses that his songwriting technique was inspired by
comedian Soupy Sales’ advice to youngsters to keep any fan
letters to no more than 25 words. Pop describes his musical
awakening occurring when “I smoked a big joint by the
river and realised that I was not black.” The documentary is
littered with such colourful anecdotes.
Iggy Pop and The Stooges may have entered the Hall of
Fame but they definitely did not arrive in a limousine and
walk through the front door.
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