Wednesday, January 07, 2009

No Fun



Ron Asheton died. He was 60.

I love his guitar playing, especially on "Fun House", one of my favourite records, and a definite candidate for my Top 10 if such a list existed. It was the sound of his guitar that defined the way the Stooges sounded on their first two albums. More than Iggy's growls and yelps and coos, and more than the rhythm sections surprisingly funky backing, it was the primitive brutishness of Asheton's guitar, roaring away like an airplane engine throughout, that made the Stooges perhaps the scariest-sounding band of their era. He was never a virtuoso, and he even stepped aside to play bass when one did appear, allowing the more virtuosic James Williamson to take his job for "Raw Power". But that album - despite its fine set of songs - isn't quite as aurally awesome as "The Stooges" and "Fun House". Because Williamson's technical skill can't match Asheton's aggression and power. While Williamson's lightning-fingered aptitude is obvious, Asheton sounds like his fingers are made of steel when he clatters into a riff. It frequently seems like he must be playing three guitars at once. But no. Just him, and one guitar. He just means it more. He still meant it on the recent reunion album and tour. Maybe not as much.

TV Eye, from Fun House. Especially awesome - the moment where the whole thing stops then restarts with a guitar sound like a nuclear explosion:

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2 Comments:

Blogger jamesinseoul said...

God I love those Stooges records. Surely they are the most primal expressions of rock n roll ever committed to wax, and still sound like a revolution at the centre of a hurricane. I saw them about 4 years ago, and it was one of the most ferocious and righteous hours of my life.

7:02 am  
Blogger David N said...

The whole reunion tour and album seemed like a bad idea to me, and I had no desire to see them. But the album is ok. They don't disgrace themselves, anyway. funnily the hardest part of this post was finding a picture of Ron from the classic era - there are plenty of him from that last tour, looking like some Vietnam vet biker.

You know sometimes with a band you start off with the wrong record? It was like that for me with the Stooges. I got Raw Power first, and though I liked it - and loved Gimme Danger - it wasn't quite the apocalyptic experience I had expected. Then a friend - a bit older than me, liked and possessed a lot more music and loved sharing it, the kind of friend its great to have at a certain age and if you're reading this Hi Joe - played me some of the first album at his place one day. He played everything - from Frank Sinatra to Marvin Gaye to Guided By Voices - really loud, but the Stooges made the ground shake, the feedback felt like a solid force in the room with us. Awesome, revelatory.
No other "heavy" band, punk, metal, hardcore, can really compare.

1:40 am  

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