Like a lot of my generation, Iggy first came to my attention when I was 10 years old and Real Wild Child hit the charts. I felt oddly drawn to this strange, writhing unlikely pop star and his racing, heady tune. I danced along in my bedroom like a child possessed.
It was a few years later, thanks to constant pillaging of the record collections of older relatives, that my musical tastes expanded, and I delved back through Bowie, The Doors and Janis, eventually landing on The Stooges. They spoke to me right from the start. Dirt became almost the theme tune for my teen angst years.
Gimme Danger is the long-awaited documentary about the band, and their journey from disenchanted teenagers on the banks of the Huron river, through years of difficulty, drugs and various record labels, to punk pioneers and rock legends.
It is no surprise that director Jim Jarmusch is a Stooges fan – most of his characters seem to be the kind of people the band has always appealed to. He is a great champion of outsiders, and no-one has ever been more on the outside than Iggy Pop. It is a place he has firmly put himself, refusing to be squeezed into a box, refusing to adhere to a genre, type or style. This refusal to belong or fit in is all part of his longevity.
Iggy, along with Scott Asheton, Ron Asheton and Dave Alexander, formed the Stooges in 1967, blending blues, jazz, underground rock and British pop influences, sprinkling in some MC5 and Velvet Underground, and adding experimental and industrial sounds.
The documentary consists of extensive interviews with the main players, including later band member James Williamson, interspersed with concert footage, animation, and old film clips for illustration.
There was a genuine friendship between the bandmates, that lasted until the deaths of three of them – Iggy is the only one left of the original line-up. They were a team, sharing everything, writing and working together, getting high together, and self-destructing together.
I’m not sure if Jarmusch has made this film for the younger generations, to educate them on a band that rightfully should be as well known as the Rolling Stones or The Doors. For a Stooges fan, there isn’t much here that’s new. It’s a story that has been told in print many times.
Iggy – Jim Osterberg to his friends – is always good to listen to. He separates himself from his stage persona. He isn’t a myth or a legend, he is a hardworking musician and entertainer, still performing at 69, and he still seems, as he always has, to be a thoroughly nice guy.
It’s a shame there aren’t a few more full-length songs in here, as the band’s live performances can be mesmerising. Back story and process are always interesting, but the music has a voice of its own too, and should sometimes be allowed to speak for itself.
So, every rock fan should watch this, but you should also watch Kiss My Blood and any old Iggy or Stooges footage you can find.