Jim Jarmusch’s ‘Gimme Danger’ Captures the Sound and Fury of the Stooges


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  • Photo courtesy of Amazon Studios / Magnolia Pictures. Photo credit: © Danny Fields c/o Gillian McCain
 At one point in Gimme Danger, the latest film from writer-director Jim Jarmusch, Stooges singer Iggy Pop admits to being influenced by the “mega-clang” he heard when he visited a manufacturing plant near his Ann Arbor home. That incident changed his approach to making music.

Prior to that, Pop had dabbled in different genres and played drums with blues bands. But post mega-clang, he was all about kicking out the jams with an unparalleled ferocity. Featuring an extensive interview with Pop, Jarmusch’s film captures the ups and downs that the Stooges experienced during their short-but-significant tenure. The movie opens tomorrow at the Cedar Lee Theatre.

Initially emerging from Ann Arbor amidst a countercultural revolution, the Stooges took an aggressive approach that “blew a crater in the musical landscape of the late 1960s” as it's put in the press notes for the movie.

The band played its first-ever show at a house party in Detroit; members of the MC5 were at that show and immediately impressed with the band’s energy. Pop, who reportedly invented the stage dive, set out to mimic some of his favorite performers, namely Jim Morrison, Mick Jagger and James Brown.

Gimme Danger chronicles everything about the band’s formation and initial success — the group would sign a deal with Elektra Records, which released its first two albums. The albums didn’t sell, but the band soldiered on despite lineup changes and band members’ problems with drug and alcohol abuse. It eventually called it quits in 1972 and then again in 1974 before reforming in 2003.

In the early '70s, David Bowie approached Pop about producing an album of Pop's solo material, and Pop flew to England to work with him. Dissatisfied with the English musicians that Bowie had recruited for the album, Pop brought his Stooges bandmates overseas to play on the sessions that would become 1973’s Raw Power.

While Jarmusch includes interviews with all the surviving Stooges (including drummer Scott Asheton, who passed away in 2014), the film mainly centers on Pop. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. A garrulous guy who doesn’t shy from discussing his drug issues or his beef with the music business, Pop makes for a compelling character in this film about one of garage rock’s greatest acts. And by telling the Stooges' story in chronological order (with section titles written in cartoonish script), Jarmusch ensures that even the non-fan will find the band's history compelling.

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