The Stooges - S/T
(Rhino / Elektra)
Although this record may very well be too obvious of a choice for any list of essential albums, we here at Angry Mom feel that the gospel of The Stooges is one worth preaching no matter how redundant the point may be. Although all three records the group produced in their brief lifespan fall into this category, we decided that if it came down to owning one, and only one, Stooges album, their first must be it.
The Stooges 1969 self-titled debut album is a vital and visceral portrait of the American experimental music scene at the end of the 60's. This record is one of many that make up the DNA of extreme American music. Before the sessions for this album began, The Stooges were a primarily improvisational group. Their inability to contain the primal intensity that is at the foundation of their music is what gives this record its charm. It's like trying to domesticate a tiger; the tiger may seem like it is assimilating to its new environment, but deep down it is a wild animal and sooner or later it will prove just how wild it is. Produced by John Cale not long after his departure from The Velvet Underground, his presence adds a hereditary quality to the record. The Stooges were the descendants to the Velvet Underground and specifically the lineup that Cale played such an integral role in, by and large picking up where White Light / White Heat left off. Both groups seemed to represent the underground music scene getting a day pass into the mainstream music world. Both bands were most often dismissed by the average music connoisseur and simultaneously loved by the few who could see where they were coming from. They were both rock bands that strove to combine the simplicity and bliss of rock 'n' roll but to pair it with concepts largely rooted in the avant garde. It's quite easy to see the sonic resemblance between “I Wanna Be Your Dog” and “I'm Waiting For The Man”, but just as the Velvets were seen as the most extreme at the time of their debut, The Stooges took that same sense of fearlessness and went much further. The Stooges was where creativity, self depravity and boredom collide. The fine line between pain, pleasure and the admission that there was liberation in both. “I Wanna Be Your Dog” will never loose its potency. Iggy's vocal performance is like witnessing the birth of a new kind of language, a language of simplicity but also of subversion. Iggy was the lightning rod that the rest of the band depended on to harness their energy into the cohesive sonic assault that it truly was, and is, to this day. At the time of its release, it was disavowed by most critics and seen as a failure both commercially and artistically. Today it is as clear as ever just how wrong those critics were. In the years that followed, it has become quite obvious to everyone that The Stooges pre-dated the punk movement, and as the decades passed the album and the band's reputation slowly reached the pioneer status they rightfully deserved.
The Stooges is honestly a perfect record by a perfect band. Their subsequent records take aim at different aspects of the American psyche with their own corresponding strengths, and equally singular vision. But it all starts with 1969’s The Stooges. If you don't own this record yet, then please, you have wasted enough time already, just get down here. (Adam)
Check out a track here.