Jim Jarmusch helms a ramshackle but persuasive documentary looking at the history and legacy of the Stooges
Arriving a week before his new narrative feature Paterson hits UK cinemas, comes Jim Jarmusch's second documentary. Like the first, 1997's Year of the Horse, which trailed Neil Young on tour, it's music-themed, albeit operating at a very different decibel level. Taking its aptly chosen title from a track featuring on their 1973 album Raw Power, it's an affectionate tribute to Iggy and the Stooges, the Michigan-spawned outfit Jarmusch believes to be the greatest rock 'n' roll band ever.
Of course, this was never going to be an unbiased account; Iggy Pop and Jarmusch go way back (the skeletal-looking singer – now 69 – has, ahem, popped up in the director's earlier works Dead Man and Coffee and Cigarettes). But that's not to say Jarmusch isn't the perfect director to recount the story of how this wild pre-punk band came into being, delivering stunning songs like 'I Wanna Be Your Dog' and 'I Got a Right'.
Concentrating on the rise, fall and reformation of the Stooges, rather than Pop's impressive solo career, Gimme Danger is a ramshackle affair, blending animation, concert clips and interviews. While Pop is naturally the main attraction – and rightly so, he's hugely entertaining company – the film ensures that it pays due deference to the other members of the band, both living and passed on.
With talking heads including guitarist James Williamson and Stooges manager Danny Fields, there are plenty of anecdotes about the band's unfettered use of narcotics (not to mention the evolution of Pop's shirtless performances and penchant for stage-diving). But, in the end, Gimme Danger is not about rock 'n 'roll rebellion, but the music, pure and simple. As the film namechecks the bands, from the Ramones to The White Stripes, that sucked up the Stooges' influence, you're left realising just what an important set of musicians they were.
Selected release from Fri 18 Nov.