ron asheton - The I-94 Bar
The American college town of Ann Arbor - A2 to the locals - has a lot to answer for. This re-issue of a long out-of-print live recording of some of its famous sons makes it apparent.
Originally released on CD only by Philadelphia's Real O-Mind Records in 2002, it's on vinyl as well as shiny silver disc this time around, and marks the return of David Laing's Grown Up Wrong label.
Everything about this show smokes. Powertane were the vehicle for A2 legend Scott Morgan, a soul prodigy (The Rationals) who made up a quarter of one of the greatest guitar rock and roll bands to ever go MIA in the mists of musical legend status, Sonics Rendezvous Band.
The question’s already been posed by a few people whether they really do need yet another compilation of Stooges material. It’s a rhetorical query so I’ll lay out the facts and allow you to judge for yourself.
Let’s kick off by saying that a lot of crap is released under the auspices of Record Store Day. What was once a marketing platform for the little guys, the ever-diminish number of independent bricks and mortar stores, has morphed into another channel for the big boys - they’d the the major labels - to peddle all manner of shit.
There are outtakes and alternative versions ad infinitum buzzing about like flies on sherbet, but RSD more often than not seems to be about exploiting the fetishists’ love of anything on vinyl. "Heavy Liquid" is not amongst that crap.
This could be the best news fans of raw and real rock and roll will hear this year: Esteemed Australian label Grown Up Wrong - th forerunner of Dogmeat Records - is back in business. Owner David Laing is kicking off with a bang with two killer releases to get the ball rolling (again.)
First is a fantastic collection of primarily live recordings from the original Perth-based line-ups of The Scientists - back when James Baker of Victims/Hoodoo Gurus was still drumming for them. "Not For Sale: LIve 1978/79" is an archival set of recordings from the band's ragged powerpop days when they sounded like a collision between the Flamin' Groovies and The New York Dolls.
The second release is a reissue – with extra tracks, and for the first time on vinyl – of a rare 2002 live album called “Ann Arbor Revival Meeting” by Scott Morgan's Powertrane with Deniz Tek and Ron Asheton.
More like The Lost Great Ride because it's been hard to find in any format, this vinyl re-issue of Dark Carnival’s 1997 studio swansong tells you all you need to know about this Detroit ensemble. Bang! Records have given it a re-master job and restored two tracks that were found on the CD version but omitted from an earlier LP edition.
Dark Carnival was built around vocalist Niagara and guitar god Ron Asheton with a floating cast of players, who were a Who’s Who of the denuded but defiant Michigan punk underground. A direct descendent of Destroy All Monsters, Dark Carnival thanklessly played in and around Detroit for years, even making it to Australia for a lengthy 1991 tour.
Of course, they never got their due accolades. There’s one universal truth that’s harsher than the menu at a homeless shelter in the Cass Corridor in winter and it’s this: Being a Best Kept Secret is great for your cool kid cred but doesn’t buy you more than a cup of shitty Starbucks coffee. Ron (R.I.P.) had to wait for the Stooges revival, and Niagara for her painting career to take off, to make it onto the broader cultural radar. As the Carnies make clear, life really is for sissies but it’s infinitely easier when you can pay the rent.
Ron Asheton’s local, The Blind Pig in Ann Arbor, is the venue for a tribute show on July 17 to mark what would have been the late ex-Stooges guitarist’s 70th birthday. Performers will include J Mascis, Don Fleming, Mark Arm, Kim Gordon, Mike Watt, Mario Rubalcaba and Jennifer Herrema. Tickets are available here and proceeds go towards The Ron Asheton Foundation..