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 Jonathan Rickman review, Fusion, Oct. 16, 1970

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Funhousehideaway#2

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PostSubject: Jonathan Rickman review, Fusion, Oct. 16, 1970   Fri Apr 24, 2009 1:53 am

The Stooges: Side Two
By Jonathan Richman
Fusion Magazine, Oct. 16, 1970

It happened to The Doors. They were loved in '66 for their new approach, hated in '68 for their pretensions, and are right at this minute being courted again 'cause Morrison is so funny and after all they really can play.
Meanwhile another segment of the audience had never heard of them in '66, bought all their albums from July '67 to mid '69 and now is losing interest.
Now it's The Stooges.
Among others, I've changed my opinion because they've changed some ways, and because I've changed my mind specifically about Iggy's stage show.
In mid '69 a few local critics and I thought they were a powerful band with a tough sound who made the Ten Years After crowd puke, knew what a song was and had a sense of humor. But the main thing we were interested in, and what most viewers talked about, was Iggy.

The Stooges ' "Phenomenon" = The Actions of Iggy

A pleasant change from the style of Joe Cocker, Robert Plant, and many schmucky stage performers, Iggy looked exciting on stage, could talk intelligently off stage, seemed a powerful person and one with beautiful ideas and taste. These 'old' Stooges were beautiful because they were so honest, I love their first album. It is unlike much else, exciting, really sexy and funny. "No Fun" and "Not Right" lead a list of songs which don't wear thin after lots of listening...

Terrific Ron Asheton

The main thing I liked about the first album (at first without realizing it, and the group's artistic standout both live and recorded) was guitarist Ron Asheton. I now think that most of what is good in The Stooges' sound and image is his responsibility. The reason I like their live shows better than recordings is that you can hear Ron at ear-splitting volume.
Asheton is most exciting on stage where Marshall amplifiers with volume on full, and treble, bass middle and prescence controls on approximately half (plus Vox fuzz, Vox wah-wah, a newly added Binson echorec and a red Fender Stratocaster enable him to produce stunning guitar sound.
These all contribute to Ron's near-perfect image. That guitar, used by most of the surf groups, "Buddy Holly" and others, symbolized white rock and roll. Of course it's red, symbolically a violent color often favored by kids who like to act tough. Perhaps, back in Michigan, Ron has a red & white full dress Harley Davidson cycle; maybe a black 50's Lincoln Continental or Chrysler Imperial or a 1957 Thunderbird.
You see Marshall amps look tough. So do his wide stance, sober but child-like expression, sunglasses and the Nazi symbols he attaches to his belongings. I always wonder if he plans these things.
Their second album, to keep you up to date on their artistic slide, features songs with less staying power than those of the first. These songs have little to say other that how "loose" Iggy is and how we'd all better look out. The first was also better 'cause one heard more Ron Asheton. He plays some nice savage parts ("On the Street," Loose", "1970") and one patrician pretty one ("Dirt"). Outside of his contributions I don't see anything interesting on it.

Novelty Factor

Two things about the Stooges wear thin with repetition:
1. Many of their songs.
2. Iggy's stage performance.
The latter becomes more like watching a magician from behind. Assumed spontaneity is revealed as calculation. The show became humorous, an amusing night out, until I realized the audience segment was fooled into fear by Iggy, fooled into regarding him as a daring, fearless man, sent by God to test your ego hangups. Then it started to stink, bringing us to the next section titled

The Obvious and Forgotten Devices used by Iggy or Iggy's "Charisma" Exposed and Analyzed

Since Iggy's exposure (artistically harmful, perhaps), to the Big City's bright lights and wordy critics there has been talk of Iggy's ability "to make anyone feel uptight."
He's so powerful people in the audience just can't stand up to him, we are told.
He's so charismatic, one doesn't want to, they say.
All right, now look. Charismatic or not, any stage performer has advantages about which any 11-year old bully instinctively knows, but which many rock critics, especially female, have forgotten.
First off, the things Iggy does which have caused admiration, wonderment and anger involve things like leaping into the audience, getting fresh with women, spilling drinks on people, dancing on tables, sitting on people's laps and occasionally pushing people out of chairs. We are led to believe that the "victims" in the audience are too "uptight" to do anything. Well, why shouldn't people be nervous?
When a stage performer leaves his stage, goes into the audience and singles out one person for anything, he will usually be nervous. Watch "The Tonight Show" when Carson plays "Stump the Band." It's obviously in fun, but still with all those eyes on them most people are relieved when through with the TV camera.
Throw in sexual aspects to the above and think of how tensions would obviously increase. You see, circus clowns have used this device for 100 years. They run through the crowd with custard pie and water pail in hand and stare out customers (except, having some good taste and some sense, only briefly) letting the customer toy with the idea that maybe the clown will do him in and letting him go just a bit edgy. Why then were these clowns not called charismatic geniuses? artists? stars? Because Iggy does this kind of thing but plays to the audience's biggest collective weakness, its sexual identity.
He's out to show how loose he is and how uptight you are and I don't think it's charming. I think it's bush league and sucks. Some people wonder why Iggy hasn't been attacked. How miraculous, they say Iggy is fearless we are told.
Be serious, out there! Who wants to hit a stage performer? In spite of Iggy's tactics there are people who have senses of humor. Well, this is part of the act, good luck to him say the better adjusted. By the third time I saw them I no longer saw humor nor did I see Iggy as a performer. I saw him as a man using little judgement or taste and tensely awaited a confrontation that didn't happen.
"Shit, one of these days some guy's gonna haul off and...."
I've heard that a few times. If that does happen it will be because someone has decided that Iggy Stooge has overstepped his bounds as a performer and is acting in such a manner as to offer us not entertainment but a severe imposition.
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mc

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PostSubject: Re: Jonathan Rickman review, Fusion, Oct. 16, 1970   Sat Apr 25, 2009 1:31 am

Nice one Jim. Great to hear about them playing the 1st album stuff live, I so wish I could hear such a recording with Ron way loud!

Got 20 Minute Fandangoes by the way it's coming by post right now.
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Funhousehideaway#2

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PostSubject: Re: Jonathan Rickman review, Fusion, Oct. 16, 1970   Sun Apr 26, 2009 6:24 am

MC,

There's also a book called The Scene, written by Mike or Michael Jahn in 1970 that has a story about the Stooges. I haven't bought it but from my understanding he documents the band's show prior to their first gig in NY City. Got a Ben Edmunds story from the same edition of Fusion also, will post soon.
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mc

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PostSubject: Re: Jonathan Rickman review, Fusion, Oct. 16, 1970   Thu Apr 30, 2009 3:22 pm

Bought 'The Scene' as well, will post the Stooges stuff from it and 20 Minute Fandangos when they get here.
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woody

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PostSubject: Re: Jonathan Rickman review, Fusion, Oct. 16, 1970   Mon Feb 28, 2011 9:12 pm

Very interested to read this. It's that Jonathon Richman isn't it? Sounds just like him.

Note the recognition he gave Ron -
'I now think that most of what is good in The Stooges' sound and image is his responsibility'

Note that he saw Fun House as the beginning of the end for the band -
'Their second album, to keep you up to date on their artistic slide, features songs with less staying power than those of the first. These songs have little to say other that how "loose" Iggy is and how we'd all better look out. The first was also better 'cause one heard more Ron Asheton'

Note his opinion on Iggy's act -
'it's bush league and sucks. ... By the third time I saw them I no longer saw humor nor did I see Iggy as a performer. I saw him as a man using little judgement or taste and tensely awaited a confrontation that didn't happen'

Fascinating to read this from.. 1970.
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neven



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PostSubject: Re: Jonathan Rickman review, Fusion, Oct. 16, 1970   Tue Mar 01, 2011 12:23 am

mc wrote:
Bought 'The Scene' as well, will post the Stooges stuff from it and 20 Minute Fandangos when they get here.

what is 20minute fandangos?
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mc

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PostSubject: Re: Jonathan Rickman review, Fusion, Oct. 16, 1970   Tue Mar 01, 2011 12:58 am

neven wrote:
mc wrote:
Bought 'The Scene' as well, will post the Stooges stuff from it and 20 Minute Fandangos when they get here.

what is 20minute fandangos?

A book by Jonathan Eisen published 1971. It has 3 Stooges articles in it: An Unganos Review by R.Meltzer (see here http://stoogesforum.freeforumboard.net/t2019-unganos-august-1970), one of Natalie's Popped's reprinted and an interview between Jackie Curtis and Rita Red after seeing the Stooges at Unganos (think this also appeared in Gay Times?). - http://www.amazon.co.uk/Twenty-minute-fandangos-forever-changes-bazaar/dp/0394471636

lots of other interesting articles in it as well.
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