Starting from the notorious 1973 gigs which resulted in blood and thrown bottles, and working backwards, this documentary from Jim Jarmusch lovingly essays one of the greatest rock’n’roll bands of all time: The Stooges.
Gimme Danger is all about the roots of inspiration: Jim Osterberg, aka Iggy Pop, is a charmingly candid and eloquent raconteur, speaking of the unlikely influence of Soupy Sales of the kids’ TV show, Howdy Doody, who encouraged children to write in using “twenty five words or less”, a technique he applied to his songwriting.
Elsewhere though, there are more likely imprints on the mighty Detroit band, such as Osterberg’s session work with blues bands, the rejection of “cultural treason”, as Osterberg terms record labels pushing for massive sales, and the clang of metal in the Detroit motor plants, which impressed Osterberg so much that The Stooges tried to replicate the same industrial crash in their sound.
Also featuring Stooges members, brothers Ron and Scott Asheton (who sadly recently passed away) and James Williamson, among others, the anecdotes are both jaw- dropping and poignant, with communal living, Nico, Bowie, The MC5, drugs and plenty of youthful hubris and misdemeanours along the way.
Jarmusch’s approach is more conventional than his usual films, using archive clips, animation and montage, but it’s churlish to critique this when the subject matter is so fascinating: he simply lets the music fill in any gaps. Who could fail to be amused by the reactionary TV presenter going,”Is that… Is that peanut butter?” as Iggy smears that famous chest and torso with the spread, before hurling himself into the crowd during a famous gig.
As for the band’s name, Ron coined it, complaining, “Everybody keeps picking on us, and we haven’t done anything wrong!” He even called Moe Howard, from the original Three Stooges, who granted permission to use the name. It’s to the band’s credit that they never sought permission for anything else, ever again- they were unique, uncompromising, and remain the real deal.