By: Mike Watt
November 10, 2023

One in a series of 25 enthusiastic posts, contributed by 25 HILOBROW friends and regulars, on the topic of proto-punk records from the Sixties (1964–1973, in our periodization schema). Series edited by Josh Glenn. Also check out our proto-punk playlist (a work in progress) at Spotify.



“shake appeal” by iggy and the stooges from the “raw power” album (1973) really was heavy on me, REALLY HEAVY. I got into music to be w/my friend d boon — I had met him when we were both twelve and his ma put me on bass cuz she wanted us to have a band w/him on guitar cuz she played guitar when she was younger. what I discovered trying to learn bass was this idea of the “riff” (fancy italian word for it: “ostinato”) which is a kind rhythmic phrase or figure that when repeated, can make for a foundation of a tune. this is what really blew my mind about the stooges’ “shake appeal,” its fundamental riff. it’s a chromatic thing which means one half-tone and then the next half-tone. but there’s also a kind of dynamic set up from the phrasing which stated this chromatic riff three times and then answering w/a big chord blast – this “one” riff was actually made of two parts and the leading to trippy variations that made up the chorus. now j mascis might tell you for him it just sounds “rockabilly” but I think it’s heavier than some kind of stylistic conformity – WAY HEAVIER, especially scotty asheton’s drums uniting his brother ronnie’s bass w/james williamson’s guitar – they’re playing in unison and scotty’s got kind of a surf trip going even… man, what a freight train — no way to stop this hard-charger, nope. tied to the bow of this baby is ig, his voice cutting right though like a wild-ass alto sax w/righteous illuminated mind-exploder words like “memory has got to go!” — him channeling that BIG riff into a vehicle to syncopate a thought stream verbally into ‘pert-near “drum-thump” sex sing expressing head-on crazy wail, hand claps in my brain aiding and abetting BIG TIME. I got a chance to help these guys for 125 months and when the part where james williams came on, we started doing this tune and I was getting to be part of it! crazy, thinking back and never imagining I’d get to be part w/the cats who invented it, who brought it! ig put it in the set for the “stage invasion” part of the show, when he’d invite the gig-goers up on stage to dance w/him, replacing “real cool time / no fun” which we were doing before. I remember after the first prac doing that tune w/ig, me asking him about this tune and he looked at me serious and said “mike, little richard” and damn if I didn’t realize and think “no shit,” only to ponder that for days later cuz it made TOTAL SENSE — I still think about that moment w/him. he was most kind and sincere w/me, just bringing those words. I still feel that that… feel that riff… hear his voice… FEEL his voice, his passion… and that guitar solo james brought — crimony! it’s “stooge music” like scotty would call it, a most happening way to put if for me… branded upon my brain and stitched up into my spirit. pure rocket fuel. oh yeah, I think “tight pants” was this tune’s original title — of course!


STOOGE YOUR ENTHUSIASM: INTRODUCTION by Josh Glenn | Mandy Keifetz on The Trashmen’s SURFIN’ BIRD | Nicholas Rombes on Yoko Ono’s MOVE ON FAST | David Cantwell on ? and the Mysterians’ 96 TEARS | James Parker on The Modern Lovers’ SHE CRACKED | Lynn Peril on The Pleasure Seekers’ WHAT A WAY TO DIE | Lucy Sante on The Count Five’s PSYCHOTIC REACTION | Jonathan Lethem on The Monkees’ YOUR AUNTIE GRIZELDA | Adam McGovern on ELP’s BRAIN SALAD SURGERY | Mimi Lipson on The Shaggs’ MY PAL FOOT FOOT | Eric Weisbard on Frances Faye’s FRANCES AND HER FRIENDS | Annie Zaleski on Suzi Quatro’s CAN THE CAN | Carl Wilson on The Ugly Ducklings’ NOTHIN’ | Josh Glenn on Gillian Hill’s TUT, TUT, TUT, TUT… | Mike Watt on The Stooges’ SHAKE APPEAL | Peter Doyle on The Underdogs’ SITTING IN THE RAIN | Stephanie Burt on Pauline Oliveros’s III | Marc Weidenbaum on Ornette Coleman’s WE NOW INTERRUPT FOR A COMMERCIAL | Anthony Miller on Eno’s NEEDLES IN THE CAMEL’S EYE | Gordon Dahlquist on The Sonics’ STRYCHNINE | David Smay on The New York Dolls’ HUMAN BEING | Michael Grasso on the 13th Floor Elevators’ YOU’RE GONNA MISS ME | Holly Interlandi on Death’s ROCK’N’ROLL VICTIM | Elina Shatkin on Bobby Fuller’s I FOUGHT THE LAW | Brian Berger on The Mothers of Invention’s WHO ARE THE BRAIN POLICE? | Peggy Nelson on The Kingsmen’s LOUIE LOUIE.




Enthusiasms, Pop Music, Punk