The Stooges at Goose Lake a landmark release
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.
Essentailly weekend warriors, they'd been on the road playing these songs. The whiff of peanut butter from their televised Cincinatti show was still in the air. The Goose Lake festival in west Michigan was their chance to do it in front of a home state audience of circa 200,000 people.
The imminent release of the “Fun House” would be a considerable musical advance on their eponymous debut LP - and one that would soon defy critical categorisation. Of course America was not ready for a mindfuck of that proportion and the record stiffed. Which just adds to its legend.
The Stooges weren't one of the big deal acts at Goose lake. They were well down the bill and apeparing on the middle day of a three-day affair. They were known locally after haveing their debut album in the racks, but they were still a novelty act for many. So they were keen to prove themselves - which partly explains subsequent events.
Goose Lake was meant to be Michigan’s answer to Woodstock. For all we know it was, but an ill-advised decision to ban media from backstage VIP areas meant it went largely unreported - at least outside of the local press. Drugs were in plentiful supply and the Stooges were partial to their charms. Bassist Dave Alexander may have been subject to an edict to stay straight but he wasn’t on his own among his peers when he over-indulged.
So to the recording, it’s sonically as good as you’d hope for. A bit blurry around the edges but all the essential elements are there and mostly in balance. If only “Metallic KO” was this sonically good. The sound of “Goose Lake” is a ballsy rumble with most things well placed in the mix - for a desktape where balance is dictated by stage volume.
If you have issues with this then you’re probably clueless. It’s an upgrade on all those Revenge and Easy Action releases, without which we’d be much all worse off. Only “Georgia Peaches”, the 1973 Iggy and the Stooges show appended as a bonus to the deluxe edition of “Raw Power”, outstrips it - and that was a different band.
And the "Goose Lake" performance is generally up to the mark, with Scott Asheton’s drumming especially a thing of explosive beauty. The $64,000 Question is finally answered. Alexander didn’t choke and fail to play a note - but he did have an off night. Alexander goes missing in action on opening song “Loose”, and plays behind the beat elsewhere. He was sacked by Iggy Pop immediately after the show, but was as much a victim of his own drifting commitment as anything. The gig was just the excuse to off him.
Of course Alexander’s fluid bass lines were an integral part of “Fun House”. But he was the Asheton's good friend, not Pop's. He didn't put up a fight. He might have thought he'd done all that he was going to do as a Stooge. We'll never know. A troubled kid with time on his hands after his dismissal, he’d be dead in less than five years from alcohol-related complications.
There are shaggy moments on “Goose Lake” but so what? They were the motherfucking Stooges - not Chicago. Apart from “Loose” well and truly losing its way, “1970” falls apart ingloriously after four minutes. On the other hand, "TV Eye” is a seething beast and “Fun House” has its arse thoroughly nailed to the floor in what is surely its definitive vision - the final studio take included.
“Dirt” crawls a little but free form “LA Blues” works much better than its studio counterpart with Mackay revelling in his own expansive sax lines, Ron Asheton sparring artfully and Iggy banging on about only he knew what. Ron sounds glorious. Iggy flies off on a lyrical departure from the recorded version of "Loose", favouring a more lewd earlier recitation, and that adds to the charm.
There's no doubtibg this album's significance for Stooges geeks, being as it is the final show by the orginal line-up and the start of a slide that would result in the band falling apart. But it's a roaring great show - warts and all - that needs to be heard. "Creem" magazine graduate Jaan Uhelszki’s wonderful liners are the substantial icing on this cake. Tuck in. You need to gorge yourself.