Each week, we’ll take a retrospective look on albums which we think are either criminally underrated or woefully overrated, and why they actually rock/suck.
This week, we travel from the sublime to the sub-par. It’s an album that everybody seems too afraid to admit they don’t actually like. It’s the self-titled debut album by The Stooges. And let’s get one thing straight: if all the songs on the album were as good as ‘I Wanna Be Your Dog’, we’d have an undeniable garage-rock classic on our hands. The hypnotic piano and distorted guitars add perfectly to the unrelenting sexual menace of Iggy Pop’s howls. Unfortunately, the rest of the album is certainly not as captivating.
The opening track, ‘1969’, is actually a fairly promising start to the album. It has a simple, catchy riff and some nice hand-claps throughout; pretty accessibly, to say the least. Sadly, the lyrics are rather insipid, and the 4-minute track meanders around said riffs and hand-claps. Which brings us to the main drawback of the album: even though the majority of the songs are fairly short, they still feel repetitive, both internally and over the course of the album.
Granted, there is some variation. The 10-minute minimalistic approach to ‘We Will Fall’ at least tries to stray from the path with its mantra-like chanting in the background. While still boring, at least it’s a different flavor of boring. I imagine that after being kicked in the groin repeatedly, being given a dead arm instead would be a welcome relief.
Apart from ‘I Wanna Be Your Dog’, the only other track where the band really dig deep is ‘Real Cool Time’. The lyrics are just as inane as any other track, but it’s a much shorter and sharper rock jam, decreasing the overall repetitive or drawn out air of this album.
To give credit where credit’s due, ‘Real Cool Time’ and ‘No Fun’ feature some handy guitar work and intricate effects from guitarist Ron Asheton, despite the latter feeling overly lengthy. Shocking, I know.
This is a trademark ‘influential album’. While there are a few great ideas hidden within, the album fails in its execution. If you want some influential but successful proto-punk, make a beeline towards Kick Out The Jams, motherfucker!
Listen to The Stooges in full and rate (or overrate) for yourself.