Top 10 Stooges Songs
When it comes to full-on, flat-out raw rock and roll, you’d have to look pretty hard to top the Stooges. Formed in 1968, they would take the raunchy blues of the Yardbirds and Rolling Stones and pump it full of steroids. Singer Iggy Pop was unlike anything the world had seen before. While Mick Jagger and Jim Morrison both very ably commanded the stage, Iggy would tear it apart, taking the audience with him along the way. His antics, and the band’s music would influence generations of rockers to this day.
Their recordings have lost none of their power and brute force over the past 40-plus years. Although they broke up in 1974, the band reformed in 2003. However, the March 2014 death of drummer Scott Asheton, five years after his guitarist brother Ron passed away, has caused Pop to put the band’s future on hold. We salute the Stooges with 10 of their best.
By 1972, the Stooges were in ruins. Having been dropped by Elektra Records, and with drugs moving in front and center, the band split up. Enter mega-fan David Bowie, who brought Iggy to London and helped him not only regroup the band, but also to make one of the great rock and roll albums of all time. ‘Raw Power’ was released in early-1973 and would prove to be a lightning rod for a generation of musicians and fans alike. ‘Penetration’ is a powerful and haunting tune that evokes the best elements of the Doors while dragging itself onto more unhinged terrain. With some nods to William Burroughs, Iggy’s lyrics weave in and out of the music perfectly.
Over a Bo Diddley-inspired rhythm, the Stooges blast through this primal, life affirming rocker. The song’s riff, described by original Damned guitarist Brian James as “instant mayhem,” is relentless. You simply can’t help but get sucked into the vortex here. This song, and the attitude within, probably put more fuel in the tanks of punk rock, noise rock, and grunge, but still trumps them all in spades. The chaos grows and by the end of the song, the appearance of wild sax from Steve Mackay takes the whole thing into the stratosphere.
‘Your Pretty Face Is Going To Hell’
This is one wild ride! Originally titled ‘Hard To Beat,’ ‘Your Pretty Face Is Going To Hell’ is raw and uncompromising rock and roll all the way. James Williamson outdoes himself here with blistering solos. In the meantime, Iggy can be heard foaming at the mouth like a rabid beast. That beast, however, was far from you average neanderthal. The sense of humor Iggy would throw into the mix is often overlooked. In the liner notes to the ‘Raw Power’ reissue, Pop said of the lyrics, “That’s me telling her the punch line, you’re pretty now, but wait, you’re not gonna have that weapon all the time. Not gonna be whistling such a smartass tune are ya b—-,” adding, “She wasn’t a nice girl!”
‘Down On The Street’
The Stooges could groove with the best of ’em as ‘Down On The Street’ proudly proves. The opening track on the band’s 1970 classic ‘Funhouse’ is hard, loud and heavy for sure, but that rhythm section of Scott Asheton and Dave Alexander drive this thing home. Ron Asheton’s guitar is brutal, while Iggy is in full force here. The song was released as a single, with added organ that, while adding a cool spice to the mix, ultimately cluttered the song. Pure bravado like this needs no extra ingredients.
“I had sort of worn off chicks at this point,” Iggy said in the liner notes to the ‘Raw Power’ reissue, “I’d developed an adversarial relationship with chicks, so the only ones I was really interested in were the ones that would give me trouble –so I wrote about that.” Starting with a simple strummed acoustic guitar, the Stooges create a dark masterpiece. The ghost of Jim Morrison lingers in the thick air while the slashing guitars of James Williamson cut right through it. The Stooges at their haunting best.
How many different ways can we say ‘sex,’ ‘danger,’ when talking about the Stooges? This is not music for the faint of heart, or the lame of mind. It’s gutturally cerebral, or was that cerebrally guttural? Either way you slice the cake, it oozes the same tasty slime to bathe in. Bring your unhinged self and immerse in the glory of it all. When Iggy sings, “Now I’m putting it to you straight from hell,” he ain’t kidding, and when he sings, “I’ll stick it deep inside,” well, we’ll leave that one up to you.
‘I Got A Right’
Recorded in early-1972, you would never guess the state the band was in by one listen to this masterpiece. The song had been part of the band’s live set for a year or so before venturing in to record it. Soon thereafter, they were whisked away to London for chapter two of their story that would result in the ‘Raw Power’ album. But this little mind-blowing single would be shelved for five years, before finally being released on the small Siamese label in 1977. The energy and attitude on ‘I Got A Right’ is stunning, considering the state the band were in at the time. Sounding like the Yardbirds on PCP, it encompasses everything that would become “punk rock” in just over three minutes, even upping the ante set by themselves on their first two albums.
‘I Wanna Be Your Dog’
Of all the bands to emerge from the vibrant Detroit music scene of the late ’60s, the Stooges had their own special brand of fire, though Iggy told Creem in 1970, that they “surely would have been voted least likely to merit a recording contract.” Produced by ex-Velvet Underground member John Cale, the Stooges debut album was unlike anything that had come before it. It was unapologetically blunt, and in an era of over-sophistication of rock and roll, was an unadorned punch in the face. ‘I Wanna Be Your Dog’ is simply neanderthal. The growling vocals and simplistic music may have flown in the face of what ‘Rock’ was becoming, but it would set the triptych for an alternate route to take it in.
“Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to violence, the word and the act.” One of the most righteous screams ever opens this barn burner. The guitar riff from the heavens above pummels into the brain as the onslaught builds. The whole song sounds like a riotous street fight as guitars slash like razors, drums splatter like machine gun fire, and Iggy screeches like a Molotov cocktail.
‘Search And Destroy’
Topping our list is one of the most vicious and perfect rock and roll songs ever created. ‘Search And Destroy’ overflows with attitude and venom and hits you squarely in the gut and the head. “I’m a streetwalkin’ cheetah with a heart full of napalm, I’m a runaway son of the nuclear A-Bomb” sings Iggy as he states his case. He may have been “the world’s forgotten boy,” but not for long. ‘Raw Power’ has few, if any, equals and ‘Search And Destroy’ is where it all comes together.