ron asheton - The I-94 Bar
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.
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.
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.
Nobody loves a band more than a diehard follower of the Stooges. Through thick and thin, they cling to whatever recording detritus or tidbit of lore is handed down, like a drowning man clutches a life preserver in an ocean liner sinking.
They chase every bootleg with the fervour of a pre-urban renewal Cass Corridor junkie hustling a hit. They celebrate the band’s posthumous legend status and annoy non-believers with trivia, simultaneously living vicariously through the stories of the Stooges' addled (pre-reunion) stumbles and falls.
All this and more is why the news that broke in June this year about a high-quality desk tape concert recording of the original line-up materialising, a full five decades after the event, hit the faithful like a phalanx of neighbourhood leaf blowers at 7am on a hungover, suburban Saturday morning.
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.
A Stooges Asthma Attack at th Grande Ballroom in1968. Robert Matheu photo.
The year 2006 was something of a watershed for fans of high-energy rock and roll of the Detroit variety. The reformed Stooges were in full flight and an historic six-CD, eponymous Sonic's Rendezous Band box set came out on UK label Easy Action.
The box set's executive producer of the box was ROBERT MATHEU, a Detroit-raised and former Creem magazine staff photographer. Sadly, Robert passed away in 2018, but a dozen years before, he told the back-story of the box set to the I-94 Bar - and of course regaled us with stories about the MC5 and the Stooges.
We're revisiting many of the stories originally published on the I-94 Bar that were archived when we moved virtual location a few years ago. This is one of the trips back in The Time Tunnel.
Live at Goose Lake: August 8th 1970 - The Stooges (Third Man)
Are you kidding me? This is conniption material. A high-quality soundboard recording of the original Stooges, plus saxophonist Steve Mackay, at a time when they were at the primal peak of their considerable powers? It’s proof-positive - not that it’s needed - that the Stooges of 1970 were indeed America’s Most Dangerous Band.
The Stooges were a few months fresh from recording the epochal “Fun House” album and in a mind to confront Middle America on the sort of scale that could only be achieved off the back of substantial record sales.
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..