Sound — 10
When The Stooges went into the studio to record their debut album in early 1969, they brought several stacks of Marshalls along and turned them up to maximum volume. When producer John Cale (formerly of the Velvet Underground) informed the band that Marshalls didn't record properly in the studio, the band compromised by turning them down half a notch. This should give you an idea of just how loud this album is. With the notable exceptions of the 10-minute avantgarde bore "We Will Fall" and the Doorsy ballad "Ann," the album is composed of heavily distorted, primitive 3-chord garage rock numbers. Call it a demented "Louie, Louie" if you will. There's something magical about this album that leaves you wanting more (possibly its short length if you regularly skip "We Will Fall").
Lyrics — 8
But despite the band's inexperience, many of these numbers manage to become classics. The opener "1969" drives itself into your skull with a primitive Bo Diddley beat and wah-drenched solos backing Iggy's disdaining birthday lament. The next track, "I Wanna Be Your Dog," is a garage rock classic for good reason. The distorted-as-hell feedback intro gives way to a dark descending riff backed by John Cale's eerie single piano note and Iggy's jingle bells, of all things. Iggy's drawling voice tells a story of plaintive sexual desire that may qualify this as one of the first true "punk" songs. Then we hit track 3. "We Will Fall" is DULL. According to legend, bassist Dave Alexander and guitarist Ron Asheton were meditating in the studio one day and John Cale, avantgardist that he is, decided to record it for 10 minutes. Iggy came in and improvised meaningless lyrics over it. A highlight comes with Cale's strangely beautiful electric viola solo near the end - the other highlight actually being the end, of course. Side 2 of this album was concocted in a hotel room in one night when the band was informed that the first 3 tracks weren't enough for an LP. Despite this, Side 2 commences with yet another classic garage rocker, No Fun. Later covered by the Sex Pistols, "No Fun" is Iggy's tale of being bored. Note the fun Asheton solo in the middle. "Real Cool Time" was recorded to be a single, unsurprisingly, it didn't do well. Maybe the album being released the same week as the Woodstock festival didn't help much?
Overall Impression — 9
Despite the album's short length and the unfortunate inclusion of "We Will Fall," it manages to be a garage rock classic. Even Lenny Kaye, complier of the Nuggets anthology of '60s garage rock had to admit he "kind of liked it." This album's simplicity is also its charm. There's a teenage innocence here that would be lost in the band's next album, the psycho blues-rock masterpiece of Fun House. Fans of punk and alternative rock would be wise to take note.