The Stooges: Head On by Brett Callwood (Wayne State University Press)

It’s practically impossible to write a boring book about a band that had it all: killer music, eccentric personalities, excessive behavior and an extreme intensity they practically invented. The only thing to discuss is how well the author, in this case Brett Callwood (who also penned an excellent biography of The MC5), conveys the story. On that front, Head On is heavily flawed. While it’s noble of Callwood to take the road less traveled and ignore the sensationalistic aspects of Stooge lore, it short-changes an important side of the band. Let’s be honest, this was band that loved the sex, drugs and rock’n’roll lifestyle, and to gloss over that isn’t true to their spirit. The other fatal flaw is Head On’s extreme brevity. At just 146 pages, I get the feeling Callwood took whatever limited interview time he had with band members and other participants, and made a book out of it, regardless of whether or not it felt fully realized. On the flip side, it’s refreshing to hear the story of the band largely told from the point of view of the Asheton brothers, and not the Iggy-centered version of events you normally get (although I get the feeling limited access to Iggy played a role in this decision). It’s also really interesting to hear what everyone did after the Stooges 1974 breakup, which is something you don’t normally hear about. Even Ron Asheton’s forays into B-movie acting are recounted in considerable detail (and they better be, since the book is about The Stooges and they’re broken up by page 66!). It’s far from perfect, but there’s enough interesting moments to make it valuable for Stooges freaks, if not the casual fan.