It’s been quite a year for music documentaries. Oscar winning director Ron Howard released Eight Days A Week about The Beatles while the team behind Amy, which won an Oscar for best documentary last year, released Supersonic about Oasis. Now we have Jim Jarmusch brings us Gimme Danger, a documentary about The Stooges.
As well as a pretty full history of the band from 1967 to their break-up in 1974, we also get a lot of coverage of the reformation in 2003 and also a bit of Iggy’s pre-Stooges past. He was originally a drummer and once had a sixteen-foot drum riser. Eventually he had enough of looking at other people’s asses and decided he wanted to be a front man instead. It turns out that he based his lyric writing on the rules from a children’s TV programme where they said that if you wanted to write in, you have to use 25 words or less.
We learn that Ron called up Moe Howard from The Three Stooges to make sure that they were okay to use the name The Stooges. Apparently, Ron and Scott played better in the studio if Iggy was in there with them dancing around. James Williamson’s guitar is described as being like a police drug dog – filling all the space, and we find out that following the break-up of the band, he went into IT and only agreed to re-join the reformed Stooges because he was retiring from the computer industry. With the deaths of brothers Scott and Ron Asheton in the last few years, the film could have slipped into sentimentality but it never does, it remains a celebration of The Stooges and their music’s vitality.
Admittedly, there’s very little revelatory here, hard core Stooges fans won’t learn anything new. But it’s so well put together and it feels like a true labour of love for Jarmusch. Iggy is an excellent raconteur, funny and personable and the perfect talking head to carry a documentary. It’s also interesting to see the total lack of bitterness over the fact that The Stooges didn’t have the success that they deserved at the time. At the end of the documentary, there are clips of other bands such as the Sex Pistols and Sonic Youth covering Stooges’ songs and shots of a number of record sleeves from bands that were clearly influenced by the proto-punks from Detroit. Of course it could be due to the fact that the band got to reform in the 1990s.
As with a lot of these events, Broadway make a proper night of it. As well as showing the film, they have a DJ in the bar playing some garage rock from contemporaries of The Stooges and beyond, including You’re Gonna Miss Me by The 13th Floor Elevators and Seven And Seven Is by Love.
By Gav Squires