THE STOOGES:The Stooges.

24 11 2016

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“And I’ll lay right down in my favorite place
And now I wanna be your dog.”

1969. A year that gave us a band that would, at the start be looked down on but eventually become one of the most influential bands of all time. Fronted by one of the most charismatic and courageous human beings, ever.

On Monday I went to the cinema to see Gimme Danger. The brilliant film about The Stooges. As I watched it, every part of me wished I was born at the right time to have appreciated them at the start. Instead I came into the world a couple of decades later. I couldn’t understand how or why The Stooges were the underdogs, why they were given so much shit. Maybe it’s because they were completely misunderstood. Their debut record is one of the most remarkable and most raw records of all, and for a debut to sound like that? Shit. You can just tell that they were on the verge of creating something that would make some feel uncomfortable, but what good comes from feeling otherwise?

I was very young when I first heard The Stooges, very young. I wasn’t aware of how important they would end up being to me but I remember instantly being hooked on Iggy. He seemed like someone that nobody could touch. He was like a fictional character brought to life and this character heightened when on a stage. The way he would whirl about on stage and how he would launch himself into the crowd. It wasn’t like anything else, he’s not like anyone else. He moves on stage like a gorilla ready to attack, especially when he crouches down and moves in this way that just makes you wonder what he’s going to do next. When a band can keep you on constant edge like that, that’s when you truly connect and know you’ve got a band to love for life.

Their debut record is a collection of songs that mess with your head. I mean that intro to I Wanna Be Your Dog is probably the greatest intros of all time. As soon as I hear it my ears prick up and I’m covered in goose bumps. I can’t describe what it sounds like but every time I play it, it feels like I’m hearing it for the first time. That new sensation takes over every time I hear it. We Will Fall is 10 minutes of chanting and bliss. It doesn’t sound like anything else on the record or really anything else they’ve ever done. No Fun is 5 minutes of summing up how boring life can sometimes be if you let yourself fall into a bland routine.

This recorded guided a generation into the 70s and brought to life a movement that would establish one of the most influential styles of music ever. Maybe I’m biased in my thoughts there, but for me, Punk is the backbone of everything I love. It isn’t just a 2 minute song telling the world to go fuck itself. It’s more than you or I can describe or explain. It’s a sound, a feeling, an attitude and I’m happy it found its way to me. The more I listen to The Stooges, the more I hear things I may not have initially picked up on. I can hear just how frantic Scott’s drumming was, and I think that’s part of the charm. Scott’s drumming was out of this world and he played in a way that made you want to make your own noise. Hell, The Stooges just made you want to make your own noise.

Their first record is smutty, off the wall and just wonderfully weird. These are the traits that got me hooked on them the first time around, and it is still apparent now decades later. The songs ooze frustration, desperation and the need for something. The need to search and destroy (different record, I know) and this record everlastingly and loving grabs you by the throat and unapologetically plants one right on the kisser. It’s just a brilliant listen, from start to finish. There’s no bad song on the record and each song is a side to The Stooges that we all grew to love and admire.

It took them a long time to get the respect and admiration that they rightfully deserved, and maybe if it happened straight away this raw and urgent sound they constantly possessed may never have been there. If you’re looking for a band that define going against what people expect or a band that just don’t care what you think- The Stooges are for you. The Stooges are for everyone. Everyone deserves to feel that “oh fuck!!” feeling when they hear I Wanna Be Your Dog for the first time. It’s feeling like no other, and man…it’s so timeless.





THE VELVET UNDERGROUND: The Velvet Underground

24 09 2016

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“If I could make the world as pure and strange as what I see,
I’d put you in the mirror,
I put in front of me.”

When I first started writing about music, I seemed to have one band on my mind all the time- The Velvet Underground, and it’s pretty obvious. They’ve been a band I have always fallen back on. A band that I listen to pretty much every single day. And if I’m not listening to them, I’m listening to Lou Reed. I think one of the dumbest things I’ve ever done was not go see him when he played back home, on the Isle of Man. Add that to a list of my poor decisions. I’ve made some good ones. I’ve made more good than bad. The Velvet Underground have always felt like a band that I couldn’t believe existed. What I mean by this is, I find it hard to believe a band so great could ever have been around. What on earth did we ever do to deserve such a perfect band?

I like to go through old records and write about them, there’s no reason behind it and sometimes I find it easier to do this than write about a current band. A few years ago I went and wrote about every single record by The Cure. Every single one. It was partly down to me not being able to sleep/scared to go to sleep and having nothing to do, but also because I love The Cure. I’ve covered The Velvet Underground and Lou Reed a lot, but I’ve never written about their 1969 self-titled release. It’s a Saturday night, I have a migraine that’s slowly fading- what else is there to do?

This record is my favourite by them. It always has been and if I ever sat down and listed my favourite records of all time, I am fairly sure that this would be in my top 5, probably top 3. I remember for a long time I was obsessed with playing Pale Blue Eyes. The person that it reminded me of didn’t have pale blue eyes. She’s got beautiful green eyes. But you find meaning wherever you can. It was a song I couldn’t listen to for a time, but then it all fixed and I was back to being obsessed with the song again. If I could sing and I was in a band, I’d cover this at every show. The lyrics are the kind I wish I could write, but nothing I or anyone else does can come close to it. It’s sad. Utterly sad but so beautiful.

Candy Says is another that holds a wealth of sadness, but the sadness it mixed with vulnerability. It’s a song that no matter what, I’ve always been able to relate to.  Regardless of how I am feeling, it’s just been a song that I’ve always gone back to and found a home in. it just says everything I probably don’t have the guts to say. I’ve always had a place reserved for this line, “What do you think I’d see if I could walk away from me?”  Nothing really matters when you listen to this song, or the whole record really.

This is a record that I have always played in order. What I usually do is play something in order the first few times, then after that it’s in whatever order I feel like. With this record I’ve always had to play it in the exact order from start to finish. There’s no reason behind it, but it doesn’t feel right I suppose, to play it any other way. It doesn’t just sum up my ideas of New York, but it sums up how I feel about music and what I look for in a record. I want something that has sort of smutty yet clever lyrics, something that’ll make me think, something that will be some form of escape and encouragement. A record that just takes me up and away. There’s no comedown from this record, and that’s why it is easily one of the greatest records of all time. It’s got this thing about it that I mentioned about The Velvet Underground in general, like you can’t believe something like this actually exists and you can hold this piece of perfection in your hands and have it echoing in your ears whenever you wish.

I don’t think there will ever come a time where Lou’s words aren’t important to me, and with this record I fell more in love with his song writing and his captivating way with words. I have no idea how much thought he ever put into how he put words together, but he always made it seem so effortless. They’re the ones that tower about the rest like Nick Cave, Patti Smith, and Morrissey. They’re the ones I’ve always gone to and will always go to. I don’t know how well this record was received when it came out and I’ve never really paid any attention to what anyone thinks of it now, but I just know that for me, it’s my favourite record by the band. I love how gentle it is and how tender the lyrics are. I’m Set Free is one of those songs you play when everything seems a bit uneasy and you have no idea what you’re supposed to do. It has this instant ethereal build up to it, and you can feel your heart race as it builds and builds. It’s a song that will make everything make more sense. It’s a solution to any problem. I’ll always advocate listening to The Velvet Underground as a solution to all problems.

Some records just stay with you. You may not remember when you first heard it, but the feeling you first got is always there. Every single time you go back to it is like hearing the band for the first time. I’ve always felt that way about The Velvet Underground. It’s a feeling that hits you in the stomach, takes over your mind and owns your heart.