Wild Love: The Detroit Rehearsals and More - Iggy & The Stooges (Bomp)
Well, at least now I know why I didn't buy all those Euroboots of Stoogestuff.
Maybe it IS a finite universe, after all. (And I'm not even gonna tell ya about the MC5 boot I copped recently - on the "Trademark of Quality" label, a logo to conjure with to an early-seventies vinyl bootleg fan - that consisted mainly of stuff that I've already had two or three different ways, latest and best on Alive/Total Energy. Anal retentive completism makes fools of us, sometimes.)
One of the highlights of my life as an obsessive compulsive record junkie the past few years has been Bomp's Iguana Chronicles series, which since '93 has surfaced a series of mostly great, previously unreleased rehearsal and live recordings of the James Williamson-period Stooges. The '97 compilation "The Year of the Iguana," in particular, is a damn-near-definitive summation of the period, while Y2K's "Michigan Palace" is probably the best-SOUNDING live Stooges document extant.
The next sound you hear will be the bottom of the barrel being scraped. While up to now, the least exalted volume in the Iguana Chronicles was "Rough Power," what amounted to a bunch of cassette dubs of the "Raw Power" songs (some recorded off the radio), this new one will really, finally, once and for all serve to separate the sheep from the goats as far as Stooge fandom is concerned.
Guitar alchemy aside, James Williamson's real contribution to the Stooge canon was SONGS. Prior to his arrival, they really didn't have any (although they were undoubtedly the greatest jam band to ever pound the boards); the eight released "Raw Power" songs, combined with those demo'ed for that album back '72 and the batch that gradually supplanted them in the Stooges' '73-'74 tour repertoire ("I Got Nothin'," "Rich Bitch," "Cock In My Pocket," "Wet My Bed," "Heavy Liquid," "Johanna," "Open Up and Bleed") constitute a pretty impressive canon for a songwriter who never did anything else band-wise before or since (notwithstanding the fact that "Sick of You" borrowed heavily from the Yardbirds' "Happenings Ten Years Time Ago," or "I Need Somebody" borrowed heavily from "Saint James Infirmary"). Bro. James used chords, LOTS of 'em, to create rhythmic (rather than harmonic) movement like no one else this side of Blue Oyster Cult. The songs still sound not just contemporary, but DANGEROUS.
There's none of that here. What you DO get (aside from inferior versions of the title track and "Til the End of the Night" from "Night of the Iguana") is a lot of the Stooges (often just Iggy but not James - he's denied being on this - with a DRUM MACHINE, even) jamming in the studio, waiting for inspiration to kick in. We've heard some of these loosely-structured jams before ("Pin Point Eyes," previously released on "Open Up and Bleed" as "Cry for Me," and "I Come from Nowhere" AKA "Born In a Trailer"), basically just Iggy emoting over skeletal band grooves, but nothing as primitive as the piss-take versions of Skip James/Cream's "I'm So Glad," Howlin' Wolf/Paul Butterfield's "Mellow Down Easy," or Bo Diddley/the Yardbirds' "I'm a Man."
Things get REALLY, uh, "free-form" with "Delta Blues Shuffle" and "Old King Live Forever," which are basically someone experimenting with his guitar (occasionally with a slide) while the tape rolls. Jimi Hendrix usedta do this kinda thing a lot, and it wasn't particularly compelling to hear Him do it, either. Almost the best things here are the drum machine pieces - a cover of Bob Dylan's murder ballad "Hollis Brown," and a promising riff tune called "Look So Sweet."
In short, this one's for die-hard fans and collectors only.