Monday, 31 March 2014

NOT RIGHT: A Porcine Stooge Error

Scott Asheton died recently so I thought I'd write something about Iggy and the Stooges. Ron Asheton is already dead. Stooges bassist Mike Watt brings his Missing Men to tour Britain soon (Manchester Ruby Lounge 13.4) and they will probably play at least one Stooges song. Last time I saw him he played "Funhouse."
The first time I heard the Stooges was somebody's request for "I Wanna Be Your Dog" on Annie Nightingale's Sunday evening show on Radio One, probably in 1984 or 1985. I taped the song as I was aware of the Stooges from Sex Pistols' cover of "No Fun." I misheard the name of the band and wrote 'Piggy and the Stooges' on the tape. I have always been a little disappointed that Iggy had no 'P' at the start of his name.

The first time I saw Iggy Pop he headlined the Reading Festival and didn't come close to the energy of the Ramones who probably hadn't been reading much before playing their "Too Tough to Die" set. He was also upstaged again next time by Sonic Youth, Nirvana, Dinosaur Jr, Silverfish and Babes in Toyland at the same festival. Nirvana played "Smells Like Teen Spirit" before it was a single and before most of the people had heard it and the crowd erupted like nothing I've seen before or since. Kurt Cobain, the Ramones and the Asheton Brothers weren't too tough to die but maybe some of their songs could be? The entire human race could be annihilated by an asteroid tomorrow so rock'n'roll might yet die.
Some people get better as they get older, or maybe they just improve because of the talents of those playing with them. Certainly the next time I saw Iggy Pop at the big Manchester Academy he had a harder heavier band and was on top form, dancing around more than any of the younger bands I already mentioned. This might I have been around the time of "American Ceasar."
Outside again with the Stooges, in a field somewhere outside Leeds was the real deal. Both Asheton brothers were then still living and the mighty Mike Watt was on bass. More people from the crowd got up on stage than was probably safe, they played most of the songs from their first two albums and "My Idea of Fun" and were well worth the trip. With Idlewild playing before them there was never any fear they'd get upstaged, but this was (almost) the band who inspired Sonic Youth, a rejuvenated band who had an energy to rival Sonic Youth and Iggy with the Asheton brothers had a magic that he didn't otherwise manifest.
My favourite Stooges song is "Not Right." I first heard its monstrous riff rsiing from the evil fog of Sonic Youth's "Bad Moon Rising." In 1985 that was the weirdest record I'd ever heard. The reformed Stooges would later record "The Weirdness" but it was nowhere near as weird as Sonic Youth were halfway through the eighties. The first time I saw Sonic Youth was the most exciting gig I ever heard, on the "Daydream Nation" tour at Kilburn National. Mudhoney supported and both bands came back for a second encore, a cover of "I Wanna Be Your Dog." Thurston Moore pulled down Mark Arm's trousers then Mark Arm dived into the crowd. That's NOT RIGHT.
The Asheton brothers live on in this: it's NOT RIGHT.

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