In 1979, Matt Gimmick, a punk rock band out of Detroit that sprang from the ashes of one of the earliest Stooges-inspired groups, put out an EP that included a couple of unusual cover tunes. That they were Stooges compositions wasn’t the extraordinary part, though covering the unit fronted by Iggy Pop was far from common then; recording Stooges songs that virtually no one had ever heard before was most certainly noteworthy.
The period following the second Stooges album, Fun House (1970), when Ron Asheton and James Williamson both played guitar, is an interesting era of the band, one that, alas, wasn’t well documented. It was a particularly dark time for the Stooges, as Elektra Records had dropped them, and three of the members—including Iggy—were addicted to heroin. This version of the group didn’t venture into the studio, and only very rough audience recordings are in circulation.
A CD boxed set consisting of four concerts from the Stooges’ spring 1971 outing was released in 2009 by Easy Action as You Don’t Want My Name, You Want My Action. The label did their best to clean up the tapes, but only so much could be done. At the time of the ‘71 tour, the band played the same six-song set of new numbers—all written by Iggy and Williamson—on a nightly basis. Here are a couple of those tunes:
“You Don’t Want My Name.”
Matt Gimmick evolved from the proto-punk band who called themselves—appropriately enough—the Punks. Formed in the Detroit suburb of Waterford in 1973, the Punks were around for a handful of years and did record, though they didn’t put out any material in their lifetime. In 2005, an Italian label, Rave Up Records, issued a vinyl compilation. It’s already out of print and hard to come by, but no matter, you easily can check out the Punks via their YouTube channel.
The Punks, c. 1974.
The future members of the Punks used to go to shows together all the time, and in either late 1970 or the spring of 1971, they caught the Stooges at the Palladium in Birmingham, Michigan. Having snuck a tape recorder into the venue, the guys captured the Stooges’ entire set. Though the tunes played were unfamiliar, the recording was nice and clear.
Detroit Free Press clipping, December 1970.
A couple of years later, the Punks learned three or four songs from the tape, which they mixed in with their originals during shows. Matt Gimmick recorded spot on versions of “Fresh Rag” and “You Don’t Want My Name” in late 1978 for their Detroit Renaissance ‘79 EP.
“Ya Don’t Want My Name.”
Before launching head first into “Rag,” Matt Gimmick vocalist, Frantic, gives an amusing shout out to Iggy, and during the opening moments of “Ya Don’t Want My Name,” the singer is heard saying, “Goodbye Sid,” a nod to fallen Sex Pistols bassist, Sid Vicious, who died in February 1979.
Back cover of the ‘Detroit Renaissance ‘79’ picture sleeve.
Two dynamite original tunes—the snotty, “Detroit Renaissance ’79,” and the Raw Power-esque ballad, “Cry”—balance out the 7-inch. Approximately 500 copies were released via the band’s own label, Earthbound Records.
“Detroit Renaissance ’79.”
I’ve been corresponding with Alan Webber, guitarist for both the Punks and Matt Gimmick. One of the things Al told me was how the latter group came up with their name.
The Gimmick part came from the fact that a lot of people in the music biz back then would say we needed some kind of gimmick to help the band “go places.” Like pyrotechnics or a fog generator—yeah right! So, we used the word “gimmick.” The Detroit music scene sucked back then.
I believe we got the name Matt from my great-uncle, Matt Flynn. He was the one that would call us a bunch of “punks” when we were first forming the Punks.
Matt Gimmick tearing it up at the legendary Detroit club, Bookie’s, c. 1979.
Unfortunately, Al says the cassette containing the Stooges’ Palladium show has been “lost to the ages.” No copies were ever made. Matt Gimmick called it a day in the early ‘80s.
A documentary, My Time’s Coming: The Story of The Punks, is currently in the works, and is due to be completed this year. Follow the film’s progress on Facebook. The Punks first reunited for a show in 2003, and have played sporadically ever since. Al tells me they might perform again later in 2018, to coincide with the doc’s release. As for Matt Gimmick, they “could play anytime in the near future.” The band has a wealth of material in their vault; hopeful a compilation will appear before too long.
Matt Gimmick goofing around during a photo session, c. 1979.
Here’s a preview of the Punks documentary:
Matt Gimmick photographs courtesy of Alan Webber. Thanks, Al.