Unauthorised item in the bagging area

Wednesday 13 May 2020


Some pictures just demand having some words attached to them, a song added and then being shared online. This picture of The Stooges on some swings in Ann Arbor, Michigan in 1969 is one such picture. It looks like it's autumn '69, the leaves have fallen and there's a chill in the air. Iggy, Ron, Dave and Scott are at the playground in their leather jackets, hair grown out, Iggy in impractical white trousers and shoes. It's the end of the year and the end of the decade, a decade which began with sunshine and optimism, John F. Kennedy, The Everley Brothers, Jim Reeves and surfing songs and ended with Richard Nixon, Vietnam, Altamont, Charles Manson and The Stooges.

In the middle of the following year The Stooges would release Funhouse, a perfect distillation of voice, guitar, bass, drums and raw repetition, machine like riffs and stripped down simplicity. In the studio they pulled out all of the wall coverings, all the baffles and carpets, got rid of the screens that separate the musicians from each other. They set up the kit close together as if to play as they would at a gig. Iggy would record his vocals holding the microphone in his hands as if singing live to an audience, no pop shield or mic stand. He'd gave the band their cue, his vocals leading the songs. They were drilled. On the album's song named for the new decade they added the free jazz skronk of saxophonist Steve Mackey.

1970 (Take 1)

The sound of The Stooges on Funhouse is the very essence of punk rock, the primordial swamp from which everything else eventually crawled, a sound that by the end of the century could sell out stadiums and soundtrack adverts on TV. At the tail end of the 60s however it was music for freaks and weirdos, made with single minded obsession by a group of musicians who almost everyone else derided and dismissed. The Funhouse box set contains the entire session, every take of every song, each barely distinguishable from the next.

Loose (Take 4)


Nick L said...

Great post. Jim Reeves to The Stooges in 10 quick years. Wouldn't it have been fantastic to be around in the sixties? So much musical change and fascinating cultural progress in just ten years. Imagine getting into music in 1960 at, say, 12 years old, and growing up through all the classic albums and singles (that still stand up now) throughout the years till 1970. Must have been endlessly breathtaking.

Swiss Adam said...

The sense of forward progression and movement must have been something else.

Rol said...

That is a great picture, and you do it justice. Apart from Iggy's pants, it could have been taken anytime. (Except right now, because nobody's allowed on the swings ang more.)

Swiss Adam said...

Ha. Yes Rol, good point. Lockdown and Iggy's pants- there must be a post in that combination.