Acclaimed indie filmmaker Jim Jarmusch’s 2016 documentary on The Stooges is as thrilling as rock documentaries come.
Gimme Danger follows the rise, fall and unlikely reunion of Ann Arbor, Michigan’s proto-punk icons The Stooges – led by Iggy Pop – from their beginning in 1967 to their final concerts in 2013. The band officially ended in 2016, with brothers Ron and Scott Asheton (guitarist and drummer respectively), initial bassist Dave Alexander and saxophonist Steve Mackay all now deceased.
Jarmusch’s doc illustrates how the band’s primitive and harsh rock sound – so gloriously out of step with the ‘flower power’, hippie music of the time – found very limited mainstream commercial or critical success in the first phase of their career from 1967 to 1974.
But in actual fact the three LPs they recorded – 1969’s The Stooges, 1970’s Funhouse and 1973’s Raw Power – would become hugely influential classics, that preceded and ignited a back to basics movement labelled punk rock that would follow 2 years after they ended their first era together.
The Stooges’ original lineup surprisingly reformed in 2003, and the by now idolised band played a whole host of live showed to great acclaim, with ex-Minutemen and fIREHOSE member Mike Watt replacing the late Alexander on bass. They went on to record a comeback record The Weirdness with Steve Albini and a final LP Ready To Die with James Williamson back on lead guitar followed in 2013.
Jarmusch’s engrossing doc blends live footage the band at their peak and later incarnations with archival photos and reunion-era interviews with the surviving band members. Footage of their long overdue 2010 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is also included. Jarmusch – who has worked with Iggy before via his Coffee and Cigarettes series – clearly has an immense passion for the band and this shines through in what is a fine review of one of the most important rock ‘n’ roll bands there will ever be.