The Stooges: Head On
by Brett Callwood
Wayne State University Press
Most learned rock fans have at least a cursory knowledge of the incendiary, shambolic mess that was the Stooges, even if only as Iggy Pop’s former band. British writer Brett Callwood wants to change that, by writing a comprehensive book on the criminally overlooked band, giving close to equal access to each member, including saxophonist Steve Mackay and fill-in Stooge Mike Watt.
Callwood originally published The Stooges: A Journey Through the Michigan Underworld in England in 2007, with more details on his actual search and adventures throughout the United States, then wrote a book on fellow Detroit area-rockers the MC5, moved to Detroit and updated the Stooges book, now called The Stooges: Head On for the American audience.
Callwood not only got interviews with all the Stooges, but was also able to interview others in the Stooges’ circle. He gives a biography of the band heavy on first-person anecdotes, while also writing fairly detailed histories of the Asheton brothers’ post-Stooges musical careers as well as a few pages on Iggy’s solo albums. Callwood is even able to get Alice Cooper to write a foreword and Glenn Danzig to finish the whole thing up with some poetry.
Callwood writes in a breezy, yet informative style, generally staying out of the way and letting the interviews speak for themselves. Sometimes, however, a stronger voice would have helped break up the large block quotes or full quotes of record reviews. Callwood mostly acts as a quote presenter; a little editorial muscle would have been nice.
However, tons of rock bios are published every day, the majority of them without the enthusiasm and interest Callwood displays in Head On. (Hell, he ended up moving to Detroit! Who does that?) Callwood’s love for his subject is evident on every page, and the book could easily be twice the size it is now. If you’ve read any of the Iggy biographies and want a little more, Head On would be a good place to start.
Wayne State University Press: wsupress.wayne.edu