The Stooges were always a portent of things to come. Not necessarily anything full of brightness, joy and hope, but something dark, delinquent and delicious. Though their first album appeared in 1969, there was never anything of the 60s about The Stooges. They were so dramatically ahead of their time that they remained intoxicatingly exotic and beyond what was deemed acceptable, long after their ’74 demise.
Even now, listening to this cannily compiled companion to Jim Jarmusch’s ludicrously overdue cinematic portrait, Gimme Danger, the band sound implausibly fresh, vital and, ultimately, seductive. The title track’s Bowie mix opens proceedings, before chronology properly kicks in with a quartet of tracks from the band’s eponymous John Caleproduced debut. The thuggish simplicity of Ron Asheton’s guitar work remains intrinsically brutal, uncompromising and untramelled by pointless ornature, a sonic testimonial to less is more. Hearing it again, you realise you don’t listen to No Fun enough. No one does. No one could. It’s rock’n’roll, stripped to its bloody gears, its essence, the intrinsic ‘fuck you’ at its core.
I Wanna Be Your Dog contains every ingredient for the punk generation it foretold. 1969’s nihilistic lyric hangs like a wad of insolent bubblegum in the slack jaw of Asheton’s riff. And so it continues. 1970’s Fun House is rifled for Down On The Street and Loose. The former finds Iggy unhinged; the latter, unleashed, the band’s unfettered groove sounding dangerous, like a drunk, fat guy in a moshpit, with an open blade and his eyes closed.
Then things really get chaotic. The story’s fleshed out by too-wild-for-Raw Power curios I Got A Right and I’m Sick Of You; contextualizing MC5 cut Ramblin’ Rose; a couple of pre-Stooges artefacts; and Lost In The Future and Asthma Attack, both previously unreleased. For good reason. So it’s great, if obviously not as great as the first three Stooges albums. Which you should own.