We’re living in the golden age of the music documentary. From the red carpet ideals of Supersonic and Montage Of Heck to the smart lure of stirring masterpieces like Amy and Nick Cave’s One More Time With Feeling, the format now stands shoulder-to-shoulder with the album as an art form.
So it’s entirely natural that in 2016, Iggy Pop – aged 69 and at the commercial peak of his career thanks to recent collaboration with Josh Homme – should be given the big screen treatment. Let’s get one thing straight, though: Gimme Danger is about The Stooges, rather than Iggy solo. Key to it all is how tight that band, perhaps America’s most influential ever, and the key players around them always were.
Director Jim Jarmusch is an Iggy cohort first and director second (the duo became blood brothers in hedonistic ’90s New York). Here, rather than revelling in the surreal nature of The Stooges’ mainstream successes, Jarmusch brings a delicate touch to the band’s story, letting old rock ’n’ roll warlords reconnect through iconic tales of debauchery.
While the aforementioned films all feature a treasure trove of rare or unseen archive footage, history has been less generous to The Stooges. Jarmusch is forced to rely on incredible but well-known TV and Super 8 clips. So we get Iggy smearing himself with peanut butter in the crowd in 1970, alongside reams of iconic photographs and (of course) blistering music. It’s left to the new interviews to give it the edge: Iggy gets deep on his early life, from growing up in a trailer park to doing heroin aged 24, while guitarist James Williamson chuckles about the irony of his post-Stooges career as a suit and tie tech exec.
Footage of the now sadly departed brothers Ron and Scott Asheton feels genuinely touching, and reinforces the notion that every Stooge was equal. While Gimme Danger isn’t too likely to win any Grammys (it doesn’t reveal anything hardcore fans won’t already know) it is a loving tribute to a band that genuinely changed things for the better. Like their frontman, they fully deserve all the praise they can get.