Live at The Whisky A Go Go – Iggy and The Stooges (Easy Action Records)
It’s ridiculous to say, as many of you have, that the management at the I-94 Bar treats Stoogesrecordings with the reverence of ancient religious artefacts.
Let’s dispel that untruth right now: We hold them in much higher regard than that. If you want to know why, go no further than this Record Store Day vinyl release.
Record Store Day was a good marketing idea that devolved into a clusterfuck. Sure, it encourages otherwise disengaged to find a bricks and mortar shop and lay down their hard-earned, but it’s been taken over by greedy fucks who run major labels that issue/re-issue “product” that cost them sweet fuck-all, or recouped a million years ago.
The Tale of Tornado Turner is a curious but intriguing piece of Stooges history. You’re about to hear the story. First-hand.
Flashback to 1973. An increasingly bored and three-quarters strung-out Iggy and the Stooges are holed-up in a rented mansion in the Hollywood Hills, captives of their management company Mainman. “Raw Power” is out. For reasons best known to themselves, Mainman is booking no tours to promote it.
One reluctantly-arranged show (Ford Auditorium, Detroit, March 27) produces an ultimatum following a clash at an after-party between Manman supremo Tony Defries and guitarist James Williamson. The edict is: It’s him or the band. Iggy sacks James. Enter a replacement, Warren Klein.
What a fucking great title. Almost as good as The Clash's "All the Young Punks" - itself a take on that Bowie song "All the Young Dudes" - wonder how many 1977 punks got that? Even though it was right in their alley?
You know how, during summer, assorted neighbours will play loud music, usually horrible, and, when the hours wind down and the drink begins to blur the world, they get maudlin and soppy and play those lachrymose ballads...? Sure you do. Well, when this happens at 230 am, that is your cue to dash over, swap their copy of Kamahl's Greatest Hits with any one of these three discs, flick the switch and revel in their dismay.
Either that or, rather suddenly, the party's on again and the police want to know your personal details. Again.
Cherry Red describe this collection as "60 tracks of the finest slices of JSG in its various guises, as established by collectors around the world over the past decade. Including tracks from the USA, New Zealand, Netherlands, Sweden, Iceland, Australia as well as homegrown UK. Some previously unreleased, many first time on CD."
The World's Forgotten Boy. Miriam Williamson photo.
Iggy Pop Sydney Opera House Monday, April 15 2019 Miriam Williamson photos
Iggy Pop and band put the torch to the Sydney Opera House the same night that a fire devastated Notre Dame in Paris. Coincidence? I think not.
The Pop has been a semi-regular tourist to Australia since 1983 and I’ve caught him on every run but one. Stooges excepted, this was close to his high-point.
It is true that at age 71 - a pubic hair’s breadth away from bringing up 72 - James Osterberg moves a little more gingerly these days. The stage-dives are gone - at least where hard-backed seats are fixed to the floor - and he’s clearly pacing himself to go the distance.
A Kick in the Gulags - The Dry Retch (Stalingrad Records)
A six-song EP with five of the tracks being Stooges songs never committed to tape in a studio? What are we gonna say if they're done well?
The Dry Retch come from Liverpool in the UK and they ain’t The Beatles. They are two guitars, a kicking engine room and a truckload of dirt. They are committed Stooge-ophiles (a previous line-up released an EP with the title “Plays The Stooges”.)
Principal member John Retch (vocal and guitar) grew up in Australia where he was exposed to high-energy sounds. He played in a stack of local UK bands and this 2019 EP revived The Dry Retch with a tweaked line-up. Stooges apart, the band's other listed influences are Chrome Cranks, The MC5, Mudhoney, Radio Birdman, Destroy All Monsters, Thee Hypnotics, Cosmic Psychos, the New York Dolls and the Brian James Gang. As Sir Les Paterson would say: "Are you following me, son?"
These are quite remarkable recordings. Yes, you've heard rehearsal tapes and demo recordings by garage bands before, but these are different. It's all about the timeframe, the intensity and the fact that they're Australian and were recorded in relative cultural isolation.
“Dumb-World” is a serious collection of raw demos and rehearsal tapes from future Sacred Cowboys leader Garry Gray and his early bands between 1974-1978, featuring Judas and the Traitors, The Reals and The Negatives.
To place this in a historic context, the Australian musical landscape was fairly frigid. The local artists’ soundtrack was blaring from commercial AM radio, but it that was drab even though the live scene was flourishing and there were so many gigs for local musicians to play.
Frank Meyer flanked by Cheetahs bandmates (from left) Bruce Duff, MIke Sessa and Dino Evertett on bass. AP Murray photo.
In these COVID-fraught times, asking Frank Meyer what he puts on his curriculum vitae is a valid question. The Streetwalkin’ Cheetahs vocalist-guitarist doesn’t skip a beat, down the line on Zoom from his home in Long Beach, California.
“Right now, I mean, I'm basically freelance film producing and directing. You know, my last full time job was at Fender as directing and producing their digital content. But at the beginning of COVID, they laid off a lot of my team, including myself. And then showbiz kind of shut down.
“But now I've essentially just been doing music and freelance editing and online production, and a lot of session work, singing and playing, recording and producing. In the last few months, digital production has picked up and I've been getting a bunch of field production gigs. And I've got some book deals happening. So things are looking good right now.”
What may be the final word in posthumous Stooges recordings for the foreseeable future is looming on UK label Easy Actionand it’s a doozy.
Firstly, “A Fire of Life” is a double CD or LP collection compiling 2006 and 2003 live recording by the Pop-Asheton-Asheton-Watt line-up in Sydney and New Orleans respectively, coupled with high quality basement demos of tracks that would appear on “The Weirdness” and an in-store appearance.
It will be rounded off with 11 tracks from the legendary stripped back appearance at Newbury Comics in Cambridge MA in 2003 by Iggy and the Ashetons (with Scott on cardboard boxes!)
You can hear “Dirt” from the Sydney Big Day Out here and here is “Little Doll” from the basement. Pre-order herewhere you can read the full tracklist.
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.
We're hopping back into the Time Tunnel...this time to dig up a late-'90s interview with late Stooges guitarist RON ASHETON by KEN SHIMAMOTO.
It was November 1998. Ron was at his home in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He was talking up the prospects of a release and possible tour by supergroup Wylde Ratzz, off the back of the movie "Velvet Goldmine" for which they'd supplied some of the soundtrack. It failed to materialise and the J Mascis collaboration that helped ignite the Stooges reunion was also in the future.
The interview is one of the most revealing Ron Asheton pieces up until then, laying to rest some misconceptions about his attitude towards fellow Stooge James Williamson, and showing him to be a musician who fervently wanted to not only express his own music as much as reclaim some of his old band's legend.
The London Sessions – Iggy & The Stooges (Easy Action)
This is something for the Stooges obsessives rather than newbies looking for an entry point. But if the newbies take the plunge, is that going to ber such a bad thing? This is s a double-seven-inch pack of five songs from the 1972 pre-production and recording sessions for “Raw Power”, none of which made it to the album in these versions, and all celebrated in true Easy Action style.
There’s plenty you won’t have heard here even if you have the Easy Action “Heavy Liquid” box set. In fact, only one of these versions ("I Got A Right") has been offcially rleleased; “Tight Pants” is a Scotty and James instrumental run-through of what would become “Shake Appeal”. “Gimme Danger” is an early version of the album track that still resonates.
The last Iggy and the Stooges show. Michelle Dawn Saint Thomas photo.
I was oblivious to it at the time but the signs were all around. The counter-culture scene in early '70s Detroit was in a state of free-fall, towards a tragic demise from its epic creative height of the '60s.
Plum Street's attempted bohemian arts colony had completely collapsed, along with efforts by local artists to establish a street fair on Woodward Avenue similar to that in Montreal. The existing brick and mortar business were strictly opposed to this effort, in the belief that when people came downtown the local artists would seize profits from the larger stores of the establishment.
Problem was, people were just not venturing downtown like they used to. Life had changed. Two major aspects, one, the “white flight” exodus, and two, the high crime rate, were keeping people away from Detroit. Plus, something new was on the horizon: the suburban shopping mall. Why travel beyond your neighborhood community when all could be found locally?
This is part two of Michelle Dawn Saint Thomas's LSD-fuelled re-iiving of the notorious final Iggy & the Stooges show at the Michigan Palace in 1974. Part one is here.
The entire theater had become a massive downpour of flying objects. Everything from cans, bottles and coins were being thrown up onto the stage. The situation became contagious; soon random missiles were airborne everywhere throughout the hall.
The Palace now was half vacant and nearly everyone that remained was either clamoring to get closer to the stage for purposes of their own agendas, or rapidly exiting the venue. The stage itself looked a terrible sight, unsuitable for even the most daredevil of performers to be upon it at all.
Iggy & The Stooges Onstage 1967-74 by Per Nilsen (Sonic Bond Publishing)
Cutting to the chase: This is an amazing book and an essential item for any Stoogephile. Swedish author Per Nilsenhas pedigree – he wrote the world’s first Iggy Pop biography, “The Wild One”, way back in 1988 – and he’s an academic, so you know it’s going to be researched to, er, within an inch of its pretty face going to hell.
The concept is simple: Nilsen divides the original lifespan of the Stooges into logical chunks, provides contextual information and then lists every show played, accompanied by as much information as is available. Yes, every show. He draws on a mix of primary sources and published interviews. He relies heavily on advertisements and reviews from local papers, underground press like The Fifth Estateand Natalie Schlossman’s fan magazine “Popped”.
You can’t beat great research. Nilsen picks up inaccuracies published elsewhere and rules out advertised gigs that were never played. He even calls out a minor error in Paul Trynka’s definitive “Open Up and Bleed” book. I’m not sure the road crew accounts here of the alleged Goose Lake shutdown tally with the Third Man Recordsrecord of the same show, but they make fascinating reading.
The roll-call of first-hand accounts is impressive. Early manager Jimmy Silver is a big catch. James Williamson’sbad guy rap for poisoning the band is shown to be the ill-considered myth that it is, with tour manager John Adam (aka The Fellow) confirmed as the real catalyst for various members’ heroin habits.
The Decline Years of the Stooges, post-Mainman, hold a certain fascination for hardcore fans. Part of it is voyeurism – a peek into the on-the-road medicine cabinet and the approval-seeking, self-insulating excesses that it fuelled in a damaged singer – and the other part is wondering why the band kept going on its march of death.
Another one has passed. Hot on the heels of Norton Records co-founder Billy Miller comes news of the loss of Los Angeles writer, scenster and proto-punk singer Don Waller.
A founding member of the semi-legendary "Back Door Man" fanzine and indie record label, Waller had written extensively for Mojo, USA Today, Billboard, Variety, Radio & Records, L.A. Weekly, L.A. CityBeat and the Los Angeles Times.
The second-generation LA native was the author of best-selling "The Motown Story" (Scribner's, 1985). Waller also wrote more than 40 sets of liner notesand was a consultant to TV co ntent providers.
Long before that, Waller was a member of proto-punk outfit the Imperial Dogs -- who wrote and recorded the original version of "This Ain't The Summer Of Love", later re-recorded by Blue Oyster Cult. The band recently unearthed an hour-long video performance, "The Imperial Dogs: Live! In Long Beach (October 30, 1974)", released in 2009 and available from theimperialdogs.com
Don is survivied by his partner Natalie Nichols. To honour Don Waller's passing, we've unearthed this September 2009, interview by leading Australian documenter of the pre-and-punk scenes, former Dog Meat Records owner David Laing.
Studio work: Jqmes Williamson and Deniz Tek. Franklin Avery photo.
It’s a back to basics, guitar album but “Two To One”, the joint effort from James Williamson (Iggy & the Stooges) and Deniz Tek (Radio Birdman), had a complicated gestation that birthed a record in the nick of time.
Commissioned by Los Angeles label Cleopatra Records a year out from its planned release, most of its 11 songs were worked up in face-to-face sessions in Hawaii, where Tek now lives and Williamson spends half his year at his vacation home.
After Williamson went back to his home in San Francisco, the songs were refined via file sharing before Tek flew to the mainland in December last year for rehearsals and a recording session for the basic tracks at Studio D in Sausalito, California.
Sessions for vocal tracking and guitar overdubs followed on both sides of the Pacific. The record was mixed and about to be mastered when the first ripples of the COVID-19 pandemic became a global tidal wave.
After collaborations for singles with Petra Haden (“Blues Jumped The Rabbit”), Lisa Kakuala (“I Love My Tutu”) and Maia (“Sickkk”) in the last six months, ex-Iggy & the Stooges guitarist James Williamson is poised to release an acoustic EP with Radio Birdman’s Deniz Tek.
“Acoustic KO” is being released digitally and as a vinyl EP on March 31. The track listing is “I Need Somebody”, “Penetration”, “Night Theme” and “No Sense Of Crime” and you shouldn’t need to be told that the first two come from “Raw Power” and the others from the Williamson-Pop “Kill City” album. Tek provides vocals and guitar on three cuts and Williamson contributes guitar (naturally) but expect acoustic drums, guest singers and an orchestra in there too.