Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Elektra Records Spotlight: The Stooges - I Wanna Be Your Dog/1969

It's the last day of wrapping ourselves in the soul of Elektra Records. The last post had us in Detroit, Michigan as Elektra's PR man, Danny Fields, took in a show by the revolutionary MC5. As we noted, Fields called Elektra's President, Jac Holzman, and asked for money to sign MC5 on the spot. At the same time, Fields asked MC5 if they knew of other acts in the area he should take in. The response was a suggestion for Fields to drive down to Ann Arbor, Michigan and check out a brand new band that had grown out of a modestly talented band called The Iguanas. The drummer of that band, James Osterberg, was now the singer of this new band calling themselves The Stooges. The singer was now going by the name Iggy Stooge, a name derived from the trailings of his last band and his new band.  

As a member of The Iguanas, James Osterberg took in two shows in Ann Arbor by The Doors. The drummer with larger aspirations watched as Jim Morrison antagonized the audience with his detached performance. 
So, here’s this guy, out of his head on acid, dressed in leather with his hair all oiled and curled. The stage was tiny and it was really low. It got confrontational. I found it really interesting. I loved the performance [...] Part of me was like, 'Wow, this is great. He’s really pissing people off and he’s lurching around making these guys angry.' People were rushing the stage and Morrison’s going 'Fuck you. You blank, blank, blank.”' You can fill in your sexual comments yourself. The other half of it was that I thought, 'If they’ve got a hit record out and they can get away with this, then I have no fucking excuse not to get out on stage with my band.' It was sort of the case of, 'Hey, I can do that.' There really was some of that in there. (www.classicrockrevisted.com)
Fields was not totally sold but he signed the band for very little money, $5000. It was money from the same wire transfer intended for MC5. The Velvet Underground's John Cale was brought in as producer to work with this band that was hard to put in a category. Sure, you can see how they were influenced by Elektra's biggest band, The Doors, but the delicate musicianship wasn't there. Sure you can see how they were influenced by their friends, The MC5, but the speed wasn't there. Sure you can see how they were influenced by the garage bands of their day, such as The Swamp Rats, but The Stooges were more about the dirge of music. And as such you can see how The Stooges were influenced by John Cale's minimalist band, The Velvet Underground.

With Iggy at the forefront (soon to be rechristened Iggy Pop), Ron Asheton on guitar, his brother Scott Asheton on drums and Dave Alexander on drums, the band banged out a crude, influential album. The first single from the recording sessions was released in June of 1969. The songs were the band composed, I Wanna Be Your Dog on the A-Side and 1969 as the Flip-Side. Not exactly radio friendly material. The single and the album would land with a thud. But over the years the album and the band would grow to the status of legendary as bands like The Ramones, The Damned, Red Kross and The Sex Pistols would all incorporate The Stooges early work into their own recordings. 

Until next time, we'll see you On The Flip-Side!


  1. Yes, but the double-sided mono / stereo promo of I Wanna Be Your Dog (which you picture) is not the album version and presumably not the stock 45 version either. Another case of a primitive demo released by mistake, I presume. The album version is better, and 1969 is the better song, as well.

    1. Hmmm, I'll take I Wanna Be Your Dog over 1969. Albeit only by a dog's whisker.