To commemorate the passing of Stooges guitarist Ron Asheton, here’s a link to Lester Bangs’ very, very long Creem review of the Stooges Fun House: “Of Pop and Pies and Fun.”
It’s an interesting read, if tinged with the mania of the man and his times. Bangs presents the Stooges as authentics, aware of the self-parody of rock-star godhood, with Iggy serving their monster in the middle. He also riffs on them being the first band to formed before they really knew how to play, highlighting the freedom that ignorance unleashed on their music.
But the Stooges are one band that does have the strength to meet any audience on its own terms, no matter what manner of devilish bullshit that audience might think up (although they are usually too cowed by Ig’s psychically pugnacious assertiveness to do anything but gape and cringe slightly, snickering later on the drive home). Iggy is like a matador baiting the vast dark hydra sitting afront him—he enters the audience frequently to see what’s what and even from the stage his eyes reach out searingly, sweeping the joint and singling out startled strangers who’re seldom able to stare him down. It’s your stage as well as his and if you can take it away from him why, welcome to it. But the Kind of the Mountain must maintain the pace, and the authority, and few can. In this sense Ig is a true star of the most incredible kind—he has won that stage, and nothing but the force of his own presence entitles him to it.
Here’s this smug post-hippie audience, supposedly so loose, liberated, righteous and ravenous, the anarchic terror of middle Amerikan insomnia. These are the folks that’re always saying: “Someday, somebody’s gonna just bust that fucked up punk right in the chops!” And how many times have you heard people say of bands: “Man, what a shuck! I could get up there and cut that shit.”
Well, here’s your chance. The Stooge act is wide open. Do your worst, People, falsify Iggy and the Stooges, get your kicks and biffs. It’s your night!
Seeing the Stooges at South by Southwest in 2007 was a thrill—perhaps the most exciting show I’ve been to. Fun House ranks as one of the top rock albums of all time, ripping its way through “T.V. Eye,” “1970” and “Dirt.” And Ron Asheton was a big part of their sound, pushing the band forward with a mean, unforgettable fuzzed-out tone. He will be missed.
Update: Mark Deming of Allmusic.com has a great write-up as well, “Real Cool Time,” focusing specifically on Asheton.