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Music / The Stooges

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The Stooges in 1974. Left to right: front - Iggy Pop, Scott Thurston; back - Scott and Ron Asheton, James Williamson

"I am the world's forgotten boy
The one who's searchin' only to destroy"
The Stooges, "Search and Destroy" - Raw Power.

The Stooges were a Proto Punk band from Ann Arbor, Michigan, active between 1967-1974 and from 2003 to 2016, who along with their fellow Michiganders MC5 proved to be enormously influential on the development of Punk Rock and Alternative Rock.

The band's Signature Style was aggressive, incredibly simple proto-punk based around Ron Asheton and later James Williamson's heavy, hypnotic riffs, Scott Asheton's tribal rhythms and Iggy Pop's awesomeness. One of the original Crazy is Cool front-men of rock, Pop was famous for his extreme behaviour during live concerts, which included rolling around in broken glass, smearing himself with peanut butter, performing without a shirt, inventing crowd-surfing and baiting and verbally abusing the audience.

The Stooges, much like their fellow protopunkers the MC5, only released three albums during their initial career. Their first two albums were The Stooges (Album) and Fun House (Album). These didn't sell well but attracted a cult audience and were later Vindicated by History, recognised as classic Protopunk albums influencing countless Punk Rock, New Wave and Alternative Rock bands. The group temporarily collapsed in 1971 after being dropped from their record label and suffering from severe heroin abuse, but were quickly rallied by David Bowie, who got them a new contract and produced their final album Raw Power. Bowie's mix was frequently the source of controversy as he was brought in to salvage the album after a botched, amateurish mix by Iggy. The band barely lasted another year before breaking up for good. Iggy went on to a solo career and remained friends with Bowie until the latter's death in 2016.

Iggy was personally responsible for the controversial - to say the least - 1997 remaster of Raw Power, which is often cited as the worst possible example of the Loudness War.note  He also reunited the band in 2003, thankfully stayed away from the remasters of their other two albums, and recorded a new Stooges album, The Weirdness. Fan reaction has largely been... mixed, with frequent invoking of Fanon Discontinuity. The Stooges released a new album in 2013, Ready to Die, which was received much better than their previous effort.

Since Scott Asheton died in 2014, Iggy Pop is the only surviving founding member of the band, and he and James Williamson are the only surviving core members of the band's '70s lineups.note  Williamson announced in 2016 that the band had split up, reasoning that "it would be sort-of ludicrous to try and tour as Iggy and the Stooges when there's only one Stooge in the band and then you have side guys. That doesn't make any sense to me."

Studio Discography:

"Now I wanna be your tropes!":

  • Album Filler: The band only had five songs written when they were due to record their first album (namely: "I Wanna Be Your Dog", "No Fun", "1969", "Ann" and "We Will Fall"). Iggy bluffed and said they had "hundreds" when the record company said there weren't enough songs. According to legend, half the album was written in a hurry the night before the first session.
  • Artist and the Band: They went on to be renamed Iggy & The Stooges since the release of their third album Raw Power.
  • Audience Participation: Iggy loved to antagonize the crowd by jumping into it.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: For many years, fans of The Stooges wished that Iggy would remix Raw Power, which suffered from a rushed, thin mix by David Bowie. In 1997, he finally did, but the result was so painfully loud that the rest of the band and even many fans preferred the earlier version. Nonetheless, this is an example of a Zig-Zagged Trope, since Iggy's remix (alongside Bowie's) was later remastered for a 2012 vinyl edition that did not have the Loudness War issues of the 1997 version.
  • Careful with That Axe: "Loose", "TV Eye", and especially "L.A. Blues", from Fun House (Album).
  • Cloud Cuckoo Land: The b-side of Fun House, as described by music critics. In fact the appearance of a jazz saxophonist and Iggy Pop screaming like a madman makes it sound quite creepy.
  • Continuity Nod / Due to the Dead:
    • "The Departed" on Ready To Die is based on an acoustic version of "I Wanna Be Your Dog" that Ron Asheton mailed to Iggy shortly before his death.
    • The songs "1969" from [[The Stooges and "1970" from Fun House.
  • Defiant to the End: Iggy wrote "Death Trip" after realising that the record company hated what Raw Power was becoming and weren't going to promote it.
  • Demoted to Extra: Ron Asheton was bumped to bass on Raw Power.
  • Do Not Go Gentle: Their last gig (before the reunion) was in front of an audience full of bikers who hated the band and kept pelting them with beer bottles. Why were they there? Because Iggy had dared them to come, and kept baiting them until they physically knocked him out.
    Iggy: Thank you very much to the person who threw this glass bottle at my head. You nearly killed me, but you missed again. Keep trying next week!
  • Echoing Acoustics: Bowie's mix of Raw Power is full of it.
  • Epic Rocking: "We Will Fall", "Dirt", "Fun House", "Open Up and Bleed". Additionally, the complete sessions of Fun House (Album) reveal that "L.A. Blues" evolved from a jam that could go as long as seventeen and a half minutes.
  • Everyone Has Standards: Dave Alexander: You know you have a problem when The Stooges think you do too many drugs. In 1970.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: Raw Power, especially in its remixed version.
  • Fun with Acronyms: "TV Eye" has nothing to do with television; the phrase was coined by the Ashetons' sister, who'd refer to good looking guys as "giving her a twat vibe."
  • Genre Shift: "We Will Fall" is a 10-minute creepy drone-based song with screeching violas by the album's producer John Cale.
    • The b-side of Fun House shows a notable influence from free jazz, laying the foundations for the punk jazz genre.
  • Glam Rock: Adapted the fashion style of David Bowie during the Raw Power-era. The result was a fairly bizarre hybrid with Rated M for Manly and a Cloudcuckoolander appeal.
  • Gratuitous Panning: The Stooges loves putting the guitar on the left.
  • Hot-Blooded: Iggy, natch.
  • Intercourse with You: "Penetration", with its cool bastardised The Rolling Stones riff and Iggy's screaming vocals, ain't exactly subtle...
    • Neither is "Loose".
  • Large Ham: Iggy Pop, full stop.
  • Looped Lyrics
  • Loudness War: Iggy's remaster of Raw Power is a terrible offender. One of the songs, in a sound editor, gives us the page image. Yes, it sounds as headache-inducingly loud as that screen-cap makes it out to be.
    • And that's not even mentioning the original mix, later released as Rough Power, where Iggy pushed every lever he could find into the red.
    • Fortunately, Raw Power was remastered again in 2010, and the new master is nowhere near as severe an offender. Then both Iggy's and Bowie's mixes were remastered again for a 2012 vinyl edition that completely averts this trope and is probably the best-sounding version of the album that has been released to date.
  • Lower-Class Lout: Like their protopunk contemporaries, the New York Dolls, they were happy to play up this image to shock people.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Invoked by Iggy Pop and his iconic shirtlessness.
  • Nothing Exciting Ever Happens Here: "No Fun", "Real Cool Time"
  • Obligatory Bondage Song: "I Wanna Be Your Dog".
  • One-Steve Limit: Averted twice - with James "Iggy" Osterberg and James Williamson, and Scott Asheton and Scott Thurston.
    • The short-lived 1971 line-up had three James when James Williamson and James "Jimmy" Recca joined.
  • Putting the Band Back Together: Three times over.
    • The original Stooges broke up in 1971, only to reunite as Iggy and the Stooges a year later with James Williamson on guitar and Ron Asheton bumped to bass for the recording of Raw Power.
    • The original line-up then reunited as The Stooges in 2003 (minus the late Dave Alexander, who at Ron Asheton's insistence was replaced by Mike Watt).
    • After Ron Asheton's death in 2009, The Stooges took a hiatus, before changing their name to Iggy and the Stooges a few months later, with James Williamson back on guitar. After Scott Asheton's death in 2014, it looks like it may be over.
  • Rated M for Manly: The band is sometimes sorted into the nebulous genre of Cock Rock.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Beautiful!: "Your Pretty Face Is Going to Hell" is a deconstruction.
  • Self-Titled Album: The Stooges (Album)
  • Sensory Abuse: "LA Blues"
  • Sex, Drugs, and Rock & Roll: Iggy Pop embodies this trope.
  • Shout-Out: The band's name was a tribute to The Three Stooges.
    • Received one when an Italian punk rock band named themselves Raw Power.
    • Also Australian punk pioneers Radio Birdman, who named themselves after a misheard lyric in "1970." ("Radio burning")
  • Singer Namedrop: Inverted on "No Fun", where Iggy Pop, getting worked up, yells "C'mon Ronnie, tell 'em how I feel!" to guitarist Ron Asheton, prefacing his extended solo that makes up the song's final minutes.
  • Something Blues: "L.A. Blues"... Which musically has a lot more to do with Sensory Abuse than the blues.
  • Stage Names: Iggy Pop is actually named James Newell Osterberg, and still goes by "Jim" in private. The "Iggy" part came from the fact that he used to drum for a band called The Iguanas while in high school. Also, on the self-titled album, he was credited as "Iggy Stooge".
  • Suburbia: Some of their early songs are about just how fucking boring Ann Arbor was in The '60s. No news on how boring it is today though...
  • Surprisingly Gentle Song: Yes, yes, they're a mega-awesome balls-out proto-punk band with a charismatic Hot-Blooded front-man. They also recorded "Ann", "We Will Fall", "I Need Somebody", "Penetration", and "Gimme Danger".
  • Three Chords and the Truth: The music is down to its bare essentials, with simple riffs. However, compared to the works of later punk bands, this may be considered a Downplayed Trope, as Fun House (Album) has prominent saxophone and fairly complicated bass parts (courtesy of Steve Mackay and Dave Alexander, respectively), and James Williamson's playing on Raw Power is quite technically proficient. Unbuilt Trope may apply here to an extent.
  • Walking Shirtless Scene: How many times has Iggy ever been seen wearing a shirt?
  • Word Salad: When the main part of a song is finished, the band sometimes starts jamming on the song structure. While James Williamson delivers his Jimi Hendrix meets Lou Reed" solos, Iggy Pop screams like crazy with completely random Scat lyrics for minutes.