The story of The Stooges, the rock & roll juggernaut fronted by Iggy Pop before he became Iggy Pop the solo artist, is arguably one of the most pure in all of rock & roll history. And by pure I mean filthy, dangerous, lewd, and violent. The band became known for a punkish type of noise-heavy rock that would presage the industry of punk with songs like “No Fun,” which was the only song the Sex Pistols played at their first show. Their brilliant first record would be notable for nothing more than introducing “I Wanna Be Your Dog” to society at large, but their second record, Fun House, is pure guitar hellfire, a maelstrom of dirty, throbbing, and infectious guitar noise puncuated by Pop’s primal yelps, squeals, and roars.
The question becomes obvious: who but Jim Jarmusch could tell this story? Jarmusch would need nothing more than his trademark swath of white hair to earn his surpassingly cool reputation but he’s made a point of also being an obsessive collector of Detroit artifacts and noisy things. The Stooges were born in Detroit and they carry the desperation and fury of their city in each one of their songs, from “Down on the Street” to “Search & Destroy.” So, in Gimme Danger, his documentary on the band, he focuses as much on the members of the band, including the Asheton brothers, Ron and Scott, working as musicians as he does cover their time in between gigs back home or the random jobs they took before, after, and during their tenure as America’s most radical rock brigade.
In the trailer for the documentary, which you can take a look at below, Pop (AKA Jim Osterberg) makes a point of reminding the audiences and Jarmusch that The Stooges functioned as a Communist outfit, sharing credit, food, sleeping space, money, and, oh yes, drugs. Jarmusch proves to be an excellent interviewer, getting plenty of good touring tales, strange one-off occurrences, and interpersonal drama to power the movie. In the process, the director finally gives one of the great innovators of rock music and an iconic quartet their cinematic due after far too long.