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Blackout! The mysterious story behind Black Sabbath’s first US gig
10.30.2014
07:26 am

Topics:
Heroes
Music

Tags:
Black Sabbath
folklore
mysterious

Black Sabbath 1970
Black Sabbath, 1970
 
On this day 44-years ago, Black Sabbath played their first-ever show on US soil. However, as the subject of this post insinuates, the actual location of the gig is some debate, depending on the sources you choose to believe.
 
Black Sabbath London 1970
Black Sabbath, London 1970
 
Riding (quite literally) high on the huge successes of their first two albums, Black Sabbath (released on February 18th, 1970), and Paranoid (released on September 18th, 1970), both Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi and vocalist Ozzy Osbourne historically credit the location of their first US show in their respective autobiographies as legendary Manhattan club, Ungano’s. In Iommi’s 2012 autobiography, Iron Man: My Journey through Heaven and Hell with Black Sabbath Iommi recalls showing up to Ungano’s and was horrified at what a “shithole” the club was. Their roadie plugged their Euro gear into Ungano’s US only-sockets and subsequently blew the clubs fuses. After a short unplanned pre-show intermission, the power was back on and Black Sabbath’s first gig was history. Or was it?
 
Black Sabbath at Glassboro Esby Gymnasium, October 30, 1970
Black Sabbath jamming at Esby Gymnasium at Glassboro State College?
 
Other sources claim that the band’s first gig took place at Glassboro State College (now known as Rowan University) in New Jersey. And the story is quite similar to Iommi’s. Claims made by rock promoter Rick Green, the brother of Stu Green who with his brother ran Midnight Sun an influential music promotion company that started out in Pennsylvania in early 70’s, has been quoted as calling himself the “promoter” of Black Sabbath’s “first US gig” at Glassboro. On the surface, it’s not hard to believe. The Greens booked everyone from Lou Reed and Alice Cooper to the Patti Smith Group at the historic Tower Theater in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania, not far from Glassboro State.

In an interview that Rick did in 1992 with The Philadelphia Daily News, he spoke about the gig in strangely similar detail to Iommi’s recalling that Sabbath blew out the power at Tower after plugging in their amps into incompatible sockets. This caused the gig to be rescheduled until the end of Sabbath’s inaugural tour. Hmmm. So what about Glassboro? Was it real, or was it just a bad memory? Here’s another version of the Glassboro story according to an article from The Seth Man, a journalist who writes over at Julian Cope Presents Head Heritage. The post also cites Rick Green’s Daily News interview as a source, but includes more detail:
 

The band’s (Black Sabbath’s) passage through customs at Kennedy Airport in New York proved to be “a day-long trauma that left the group tired and humiliated,” causing them to be three and a half hours late for the gig. Finally appearing onstage at 1:00 in the morning, the power to their sound system cut out during the first song. It was fixed within a few minutes, but once they recommenced they caused a second power outage that not only knocked out their sound system but the power to the gymnasium, the campus and “...most of the power in the neighborhood. The street lights were out and there was darkness.” Appropriately enough, the date was Mischief Night: exactly half a year away from Walpurgisnacht on October 30th.

 
Is this Black Sabbath? The SG Gibson may provide a clue
Black Sabbath perhaps snapped during the Esby show
 
As I mentioned earlier there are many resources, some trustworthy, that credit Glassboro as Sabbath’s first American gig that include British author Garry Sharpe-Young (specifically in the book, “Metal: The Definitive Guide”) and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s timeline on Sabbath. I’ve even read accounts that seem legit that tell the tale of a young Ozzy Osbourne, who was allegedly so distraught during the Glassboro gig that he wandered off into a messy pile of tears in corner of Glassboro’s Esby Gymnasium (where the mythological gig was held), while shouting “I hate America and I want to go home!”. Of course I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that said article spelled Ozzy’s name “Ozzie”, and also notes that Ozzy was 20 at the time, when he was actually 22. I’m probably nitpicking but for what it’s worth, I’d like to present another piece of this very weird puzzle.  Below is a strange show poster for the Glassboro show supposedly created by promoter Rick Green’s little sister. The poster went to auction at Christie’s in 2007. The auction items bio states a bit of maybe-history noting that after the power went out during the first song, Sabbath wasn’t able to continue and the show was made up later at neighboring Montclair State University.
 
Black Sabbath Glassboro show poster Christies
Black Sabbath show poster for Glassboro State College. Christies auction 2007.
 
So what to believe? In my mind, it’s hard to conceive that Tony Iommi’s recollection of Sabbath’s first gig would be incorrect. I mean, he was there, man. And despite the fact that it’s nothing short of a miracle that Ozzy remembers anything from those early days (although in his book “I Am Ozzy” which I’m currently reading, he remembers a lot), the fact that he corroborates Iommi’s heavy metal history lesson just adds credibility to the show taking place at Ungano’s. So let’s put an end to this folklore once and for all. In the pages of the the Fall 1998 issue of Rowan Magazine the University historians took a look back at the many famous visitors they have hosted through the years such as Blondie, Elton John and Jane Fonda. The publication, that the University publishes itself, makes no mention of Black Sabbath. So there you have it. Black Sabbath’s first live US show PROBABLY took place in a small, skuzzy club in Manhattan on October 30th, 1970, not some upper-crust college in New Jersey that was more accustomed to the stylings of Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops Orchestra. The END (or is it?).

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
The psychedelic madness of Louis Wain’s cats
10.29.2014
04:18 pm

Topics:
Animals
Art
Unorthodox

Tags:
cats
Louis Wain
Schizophrenia

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Though I do prefer dogs, I cannot but help but love Louis Wain’s cats—those beautiful playful wide-eyed felines that slowly evolve (disintegrate?) into psychedelic creatures of the electric night. These paintings have inspired considerable speculation with the oft-cited suggestion that Wain’s paintings show his gradual psychosis and descent into schizophrenia.

Louis Wain was born into a working class family in Victorian England in 1860, and died just prior to the Second World War in 1939. He was born with a cleft palate and was kept off school during a large part of his childhood. When he did eventually go to school, he spent most of his time playing truant, wandering the city, people watching. However, he must have been clever for he attended the West London School of Art and became a teacher. When his father died, Louis became the chief breadwinner and decided to make his living as an illustrator for the various top line London magazines. He had his own style and wit, and produced satirical cartoons and illustrations of cats in various human situations: playing golf, singing opera, having a tea party, singing carols, eating cake. He explained the inspiration for his work:

I take a sketch-book to a restaurant, or other public place, and draw the people in their different positions as cats, getting as near to their human characteristics as possible. This gives me doubly nature, and these studies I think my best humorous work.

Yet despite his success, Wain was always in financial difficulties—some of his own making, but most by those business people around him who exploited, used and literally stole from him.

When he was thirty, his sister was committed to an insane asylum—it was the first rumble of the fate that was to befall Wain. He continued providing for his mother and sisters, but he spent long seasons in asylums caused by his psychosis and schizophrenia.

News of his circumstances were publicized by H.G. Wells, who organized the funds to move Wain into a nicer hospital with a colony of cats, along with Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald who personally intervened on Wain’s behalf.

There has been some speculation that Wain’s schizophrenia was caused by toxoplasma gondii—a parasite found in cat’s excreta. Whatever began the illness, Wain was incarcerated in various asylums and mental hospitals for years at a time. The changes to his life were reflected in his art. His paintings of cats took on a radiance and vitality never before seen: the fur sharp and colorful, the eyes brilliant, and a wired sense of unease of disaster about to unfold.

But these paintings look normal compared to the psychedelic fractals and spirals that followed. Though these are beautiful images, startling, stunning, shocking—they suggest a mind that has broken reality down to its atomic level.

Though it is believed that Louis Wain’s paintings followed a direct line towards schizophrenia, it is actually not known in which order Wain painted his pictures. Like his finances, Wain’s mental state was erratic throughout his life, which may explain the changes back and forth between cute and cuddly and abstract and psychedelic. No matter, the are beautiful, kaleidoscopic, disturbing and utterly mesmerizing.

Beginning in the late 60s, Wain’s work came into fashion again and has become sought after by collectors. In 2009 Nick Cave, a Wain enthusiast since the late 70s, organized the first showing of Wain’s work outside of England when he exhibited his work as part of the All Tomorrow’s Parties concert series in Australia. Artist Tracy Emin and musician David Tibet are also prominent collectors of Wain’s work.

For images from Louis Wain’s children’s books check here and for more cats check here.
 
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More of Louis Wain’s fabulous cats, after the jump…
 

 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Leigh Bowery TV commercials
10.29.2014
01:51 pm

Topics:
Advertising
Fashion

Tags:
Leigh Bowery


 
Leigh Bowery, the Australian-born, London-based artist, club promoter, pop star, model, fashion designer and dancer in Michael Clark’s ballet company was one of the most influential figures in the fashion world of the 1980s and 90s. Before his death at the age of 33 from an AIDS-related illness, Bowery was famously a model/muse for painter Lucien Freud and after, he was a central character of Boy George’s ill-fated Broadway show Taboo (the one Rosie O’Donnell financed). The documentary about his life by Charles Atlas, The Legend of Leigh Bowery is a must-see.
 

 
I knew Leigh Bowery casually dating back to 1984, when I’d see him and his friend Trojan (who was dressed by Leigh) when they’d be out and about at London clubs like White Trash or Phillip Salon’s Mud Club (where I spent most Friday nights of my 18th year). At the time I met them, they had a stall selling make-up in the Great Gear Market on King’s Road and they’d be dressed head-to-toe as you see them dressed above. After that, Bowery became well-known for his Taboo nightclub, the infamous “Where’s Pepe?” TV jeans ads (see below) and his association with Michael Clark. For someone who appeared so monstrous, Leigh was an extremely friendly and affable person who always remembered me when I’d see him in New York.

Little Britain’s Matt Lucas is currently developing a dramatic film about Bowery’s life. He’s the perfect actor for the role.

These Pepe Jeans ads from 1989 were directed by mega-genius Tony Kaye. There were actually five commercials in the series, but one’s not on YouTube and Leigh Bowery isn’t in one of them.
 

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Watch the hilarious operatic tale of one man’s relapse into his teen goth self
10.29.2014
10:55 am

Topics:
Amusing

Tags:
goth


 
As a punk, my disdain for goths was challenged upon moving to NYC, where I was forced to admit some of the looks were pretty cool (I blame Hot Topic-style mall gothery for my bad first impression). A year ago, I lost all claim to goth derision when I found myself searching Etsy for pretty cameo jewelry and nearly had an identity crisis wondering if I was a “late-in-life-goth.” (Have no fear, I simply had a dress that required some Victorian flair.) I think a large portion of goth-mockery is rooted in inane subculture competitiveness, but I think the perception of goths as humorless doesn’t exactly help.

Nothing could be further from the truth! Take this comic operetta and short film from New York performance artist Joseph Keckler; a working stiff longs for his days as a teen goth and suddenly finds himself descended into the blackness of his youth (and all the poorer for it—it’s not a look for the broke). The video is really funny of course, but you also have to admire Keckler’s composition and performance. He wrote and sang the entire number, and it’s really technically impressive, not to mention… kind of beautiful? That German dialect! That romantic bass! It’s enough to seduce anyone towards the darkside! Bela Lugosi lives!
 

 
Via VICE

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
Thomas Pynchon pranks the 1974 National Book Awards ceremony
10.29.2014
10:24 am

Topics:
Books

Tags:
Thomas Pynchon
Professor Irwin Corey


 
The publication of Gravity’s Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon was one of the most important events in American publishing during the postwar era. Everyone who grappled with it at the time recognized it to be an unusually interesting and impressive work—it’s also very long—but it also engaged, in a high-minded way, the counterculture. The book is above all about paranoia. It features five “Proverbs for Paranoids,” including, “If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don’t have to worry about answers.” One of the book’s characters is young Malcolm Little, later Malcolm X, and the epigraph to the book’s final section (“What?”) came from Richard Nixon himself. Gravity’s Rainbow was so polarizing that it led to a stalemate among the Pulitzer Prize voting committee; for the year 1974, there is simply no award given. (Causing a schism of this type is much cooler than winning a Pulitzer, I reckon.)

Through the unusual mix in his books of science, conspiracy, corny jokes, and rock music (most of his books have made-up rock or pop lyrics as part of the text, and Gravity’s Rainbow is no exception), Pynchon has always been one of those writers, like Kurt Vonnegut and Tom Robbins, whose audience did not consist merely of literary types. Pynchon’s audience, as far as I can tell, always had more than its share of autodidacts, computer programmers, truckers, rock music fans. For a difficult author, Pynchon has had something like the common touch. The corny jokes part of the equation is an important one. In his introduction to Slow Learner, a volume of Pynchon’s stories, the author cites Spike Jones (no, not Spike Jonze) in a way that suggests a deeper connection.
 

 
Which leads us to the 1974 National Book Awards. As mentioned, Gravity’s Rainbow was a big enough deal that people pretty much knew it was going to win for best novel. There was a big gala held at Alice Tully Hall in Lincoln Center in New York, and everyone present also knew that Thomas Pynchon, being extremely reluctant to appear in public, was unlikely to show up. And yet, one just never knew, did one? ... Instead of making an appearance, Pynchon (actually Pynchon’s publisher Thomas Guinzburg, pictured below) sent in his place comedian Professor Irwin Corey, whose schtick consists mainly of butchering hifalutin language, including bad puns, malapropisms…. basically the ultimate absent-minded professor. Oh—and just for fun, the proceedings were also interrupted by a streaker. It was the 1970s! Stuff like that happened.

The ceremony took place on April 18, 1974. The next day, the New York Times account of the event related the following:
 

The National Book Awards were given to 14 authors last night and burlesqued at the same time by a stand-up comic who accepted the prize for Thomas Pynchon, the novelist, and a naked man who jogged through Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center shouting: “Read books! Read books!”

Professor Irwin Corey, the comedian who bills himself as “the world’s greatest expert on everything,” accepted Mr. Pynchon’s prize and took off into a series of bad jokes and mangled syntax that left some people roaring with laughter and others perplexed.

Some in the audience wondered whether Mr. Corey—who pounded the podium and shouted such aphorisms as “He who underestimates the American public will not go broke”—was, in fact, the reclusive Mr. Pynchon himself.

It turned out, however, that his appearance was a jape contrived by Thomas Guinzburg, head of Viking Press, publishers of “Gravity’s Rainbow,” which won the award for Mr. Pynchon.

 
George Plimpton of the Paris Review remembered it this way: “Tom [Guinzburg] was fairly sure that Pynchon was going to win the National Book Awards, but he knew that Pynchon wasn’t going to appear. And so in a wonderful bit of imagination and cleverness, he got this wonderful actor called Professor Corey. ... So he came out onto the stage, and Thomas Pynchon was announced and a great roar of applause ... because everybody knew that Pynchon was more or less a recluse, and to have him actually appear to get his award, everybody stared at this man, who then proceeded to give an acceptance speech.”

The award was shared by Gravity’s Rainbow and Isaac Bashevis Singer’s A Crown of Feathers. Corey/Pynchon was introduced by none other than Ralph Ellison In the speech, Corey referred to “himself” as “Richard Python,” had a lot of fun with the name of noted author Studs Terkel, and referred to Henry Kissinger as the “acting president of the United States.”

More after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Bible prophet: ‘Danny DeVito is the Antichrist’
10.29.2014
09:29 am

Topics:
Belief
Kooks

Tags:
William Tapley
Danny DeVito


 
HE’S BACK!

Yep, William “the Tap” Tapley, Bible “co-prophet of the Endtimes” and “Third Eagle of the Apocalypse” has returned. Tapley posted a new video over the weekend where he carefully dissects the “symbolism” of the new One Direction video that he claims is an Illuminati-inspired prophecy of the last days of the Catholic Church.

What else?

Danny DeVito happens to be in the “Steal My Girl” video and now Tapley seems to think the diminutive funnyman (and director of the cinematic MASTERPIECE Death to Smoochy, I don’t care what anyone says) is the Antichrist.

Makes sense if you’re William Tapley, I suppose. The man sees messages everywhere, doesn’t he?

So do his YouTube subscribers!
 

 
Here are a few more that I enjoyed.
 

 
The One Direction video for “Steal My Girl”:

 
Tapley’s “decoding” of the “symbolism” in the “Steal My Girl” video:

 
Via Christian Nightmares

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Roots of ‘The Evil Dead’ franchise: Watch Sam Raimi’s 1978 short film, ‘Clockwork’
10.29.2014
07:55 am

Topics:
Movies

Tags:
Sam Raimi
Clockwork
Evil Dead


 
Sam Raimi would have been no more than 19 years old when he directed Clockwork, but you can definitely see the horror-legend’s talents gestating in the bones of this little Super-8 thriller. Scott Spiegel, the writer, director, producer and actor who would eventually write the screenplay for Evil Dead 2, plays a stalker. His victim is Cheryl Guttridge—who did little in the way of acting, but later served as a “Fake Shemp” (a term associated with Sam Raimi) in The Evil Dead. (Ever notice how much influence the Three Stooges had on these films?)
 

 
What plays out is clearly a predecessor to his goofy gore franchise. It’s a great little short. There’s blood and screams and the sort of pop culture imagery that reminds the viewer—you are not safe, not even in the modern world (though the amenities of say, an S-Mart, can really help a guy out of a jam)! The use of alienating, electronic music builds suspense beautifully, while more traditionally orchestrated sounds add to the unease. There are some artfully executed classic horror shots, with some noir zooms thrown in for suspense. Enjoy the early work of this camp-horror auteur!
 

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
Jack Daniel’s Bar Stories: Donna makes eye contact
10.29.2014
07:15 am

Topics:
Advertorial

Tags:
Jack Daniel's


 
They say that “what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas,” but behind the glitz, glamour and sleaze of the Vegas strip (literally right behind it, out of view) there’s the even more lawless underbelly of “Sin City,” that well-worn part of town now often referred to as “Old Vegas.”

It is against this less than glamorous backdrop that we hear Donna’s tale… ¡Eye, caramba!

(Trust me, there is no way, none, that you are expecting the punchline.)

Donna’s outrageous story is part of Jack Daniel’s sprawling new interactive project The Few & Far Between: Tales of Mischief, Revelry, and Whiskey. The website collects fantastic, often bust-a-gut funny anecdotes and strangely poetic, colorful stories that have taken place in America’s favorite watering holes, saloons and dive bars.

Jack Daniel’s is partnering with VICE to promote a photo contest. The winning image of an American bar will be featured in a future Jack Daniel’s ad in an upcoming issue of VICE magazine. More information at www.talesofwhiskey.com.
 

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Handy tips from the 1970s on how to survive a nuclear attack

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For some inexcusable reason, I have merged the first time I saw one of these Protect & Survive infommercials with watching kids TV on a Saturday or summer holiday morning. Let’s say, I saw them after re-runs of The Banana Splits and before My White Horses. I’m no doubt wrong but that’s how I like to remember these “chilling” ads instructing the plucky British nation on how best to “protect and survive” a nuclear attack. Fat chance, I hear you say, and I would certainly agree—as the government’s suggestion of some quick DIY (taking doors off their hinges to form a makeshift shelter) and stockpiling food, water and medical supplies within the allotted four minute warning before a nuclear attack was highly optimistic.

Twenty of these short Protect and Survive films were made in 1975, and were certainly screened at some point during that decade and during the 1980s. I know because I recall thinking it very unfortunate that my parents had glass doors throughout their house, which meant any unhinging or using of these doors as possible shelter was utterly pointless. It struck me then that such makeshift bunkers made from leaning a door against a wall and reinforcing it with furniture, suitcases, bedding and, er, sandbags (as if anyone had these lying around) were in reality coffins, graveyards for the millions of English, Scots and Welsh who would have been wiped out in an attack.

Of course the UK government knew this as they had secretly run a mock nuclear attack to estimate the actual number of dead and injured. Called “Operation Square Leg,” the exercise assumed that “131 nuclear weapons would fall on Britain with a total yield of 205 megatons: 69 ground burst; 62 air burst.” This would leave 29 million dead or 53% of the population; with 7 million or 12% seriously injured; and 19 million or 35% of the population remaining as “short-term survivors.” In other words, we were all fucking doomed.

Still, perhaps those in charge hoped these little films would offer a tiny glimmer of hope to those who thought the government knew best, or in my case some scary Saturday morning entertainment. The voice-over for these infomercials was supplied by Patrick Allen—-who was also at this time presenting a host of adverts selling timber-framed homes to first-time buyers. Some of his lines from these films were re-recorded and inserted into “Two Tribes” by Frankie Goes to Hollywood notably:

“Mine is the last voice you will ever hear. Do not be alarmed.”

 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Less with the raw, still with the power: James Williamson resurrects lost Iggy & the Stooges songs
10.29.2014
06:32 am

Topics:
History
Music
Punk

Tags:
Iggy Pop
James Williamson
Stooges


 
The last five years must have felt like a triumphant return for Iggy and the Stooges’ James Williamson. After a decades-long alienation from the music business, during which he improbably landed a job as an electronics executive—not even a slightly typical afterlife for a proto-punk rager—the man best known for his sick guitar playing on the epochal 1973 album Raw Power reunited with his old band in 2009, and recorded the album Ready to Die with them last year. But with that band on hiatus again after a 2013 world tour, Williamson turned to some long-unfinished business. There was a very very large pile of old songs, dating back to the ‘70s, that he’d written with Stooges singer Iggy Pop for the intended follow-up to Raw Power, but which had never been recorded in a studio. A few were on the live Metallic K.O. album, some had circulated among obsessives as really rough-sounding bootleg dubs, and many of them turned up on the Open Up And Bleed! live collection released by BOMP! Records in 1995. But those were the only traces of those songs; sketchy-sounding live versions.

The Stooges, minus Iggy, have remedied that. With the Stooges’ touring band, that being bassist Mike Watt, drummer Toby Dammit, and saxophonist Steve Mackay, Williamson has recorded Re-Licked, a 16-track collection of those old songs, with a revolving door of singers. The lineup of vocalists is impressive—it HAS to be right? They’re standing in for a young Iggy Pop! I’d love to call it an all-star lineup, but a lot of these people aren’t really quite “stars,” though pretty much all of them kick high ass. The BellRays’ amazing Lisa Kekaula, Jello Biafra, Ariel Pink, ex-Dicks Gary Floyd, former Foetus honcho J.G. Thirlwell, Mark Lanegan, Alison Mosshart, and Primal Scream’s Bobby Gillespie all make appearances. Last April, a Record Store Day 7” teaser single was released, with the gifted Austin, TX blues belter Carolyn Wonderland singing “Open Up and Bleed” and “Gimme Some Skin.” Both also appear on Re-Licked, which saw its release this week.

Williamson was kind enough to make some time to talk to Dangerous Minds about the album.

You joined the Stooges after Fun House, but they broke up. Then when they were reconstituted as Iggy and the Stooges, you played on Raw Power. After that, you appeared on a couple of Iggy albums, and that’s pretty much it, right? What did you do in all the years since then?

After we were unsuccessful at finding a record label, Iggy and I kinda gave up on the Stooges. He went off with Bowie, who’d offered to take him under his wing, and that launched his solo career, and I was kind of fed up with playing music at that point so I went to work at a recording studio in Los Angeles. I learned a lot there, but one of the things I learned was that I really wasn’t cut out to be a recording engineer. It was the disco era by then, and I couldn’t stand the work. One thing is worse than playing with musicians you don’t like, and that’s recording them every day. It was a training ground for me, though, because it got me interested in electronics, and since those were the early early days of the personal computer, that led to an interest in the possibilities of computers, so I decided to become a real electronics engineer. I got a job in Silicon Valley, and I’ve been here ever since.


 
And what got you back into playing?

I had a 25-30 year career in electronics, and ended up as an executive at Sony. Around when Ronnie Asheton died in 2009, I was toying with taking early retirement. With the economy, these companies were offering that, and it looked attractive. At the same time I got a call from Iggy asking if I wanted to rejoin the band. At first I turned him down. I couldn’t imagine doing it, and I wasn’t even sure I could do it, since I hadn’t been playing at all. But I decided I owed it to them to give it a try, and I could do it because of the retirement. Then it turned out that Sony didn’t want me to leave so they hired me back as a consultant, but still I had some time to do some woodshedding, and I got good enough to play the first gig in Sao Paolo, Brazil, to a HUGE audience compared to anything I’d ever seen before. So I was back. A lot of things happened all at once.

So the material you recorded for Re-Licked was late Iggy and the Stooges stuff that never got released on an LP. There’ve been two Stooges albums since their reunion, The Weirdness, which you’re not on, and Ready to Die, which you’re on. None of these dormant songs turned up on either of those albums. How come?

We did discuss it. We had that conversation. The fans always wanted that album, and the bootlegs are out there, so people are familiar with it. What we decided was if we did an Iggy and the Stooges album, it was a given that it’d be compared to Raw Power, and it probably would be a difficult comparison with the old Stooges vs the young Stooges. Iggy’s voice has changed a great deal, like everyone’s does, with age, and I’m not even sure he could sing some of these songs now, they’re not all easy to sing. In the end we decided that rather than beg that type of comparison, let’s just write new songs. Sure, it’s still going to get compared, but it’s going to get compared as new stuff. I’m very proud of Ready to Die, we spent a lot of time writing it, Iggy stepped up on the lyrics and the vocals, it’s a good album.

The fact was that we still hadn’t done these songs, though, and I had it in mind that I really wanted to do them. Once we stopped touring last September, I had the time. I only started out with one song, I rearranged “Open Up and Bleed,” and my wife and I were talking about it and thought it would be great to get a Janis Joplin type singer for it. So I searched and searched and searched, and finally an old friend of mine In Austin sent me a link to Carolyn Wonderland. She did like three takes and it was over, and I was so blown away I said, even before I came back from Austin, yeah, I can do this, I could do a whole album. Luckily for me I found a lot of people of that caliber who could do it.

How did you choose the singers? There are some inspired choices. Gary Floyd doing “Cock in my Pocket,” I just love. And the guy singing the other version of that song, he’s from the Hellacopters, right?

Yeah, Nicke Andersson. Those were people who were recommended to me, so were a lot of people on the album. I got lots of recommendations. There was a lot of interest in doing this album, so I didn’t have any problem attracting people. Where I did have a problem was I didn’t know a lot of them, so I would go and if they had any material I could get access to or if I could watch them on YouTube, I’d get a feel for their style. So the people that actually ended up on the album were narrowed down from a very big list. I didn’t really have anyone who turned me down. There were a couple of people who couldn’t do it because they were busy, but no one was disinterested. That’s one thing I really like about this album, you can hear the singers’ enthusiasm about it, it just feels like they’re into it and they’re bringing their A-game to these songs.

It’s interesting that there are so many female vocalists on the album.

Well, it all started with Carolyn, and after her I thought, well, this works pretty well. The Stooges never had any women on anything, so it was a different thing, but it worked really well. This isn’t a Stooges album, it’s a tribute to those songs, so I didn’t want think about making it sound like the Stooges, but just bring the best people on that I could find.

Yeah, Lisa Kekaula, especially, she’s pretty fabulous.

Oh, MAN, yeah!


 
Have you seen the BellRays live? You must have, right?

No! What happened was I was down at Joe Cardamone’s, he’s the Icarus Line’s singer. I worked a lot with him, he let me use his little studio for stuff where a little studio would work, and I was sitting with him and was looking for another vocalist, and he asked if I’d ever heard Lisa Kekaula, and I said no, and he said to call her. She just came right over, and I only had one track available at the time, that was “I Got a Right,” and she came in and just NAILED that song.  My jaw dropped. Unbelievable. So I had to do a single with her, so later I came back and recorded “Heavy Liquid” for her. It was a lot of fun to do these sessions.

So is this it then, these are the canonical studio recordings of these songs? The Stooges won’t finally make the lost album?

I don’t see that as being in the cards. I made an open invitation to Iggy to sing on these. He wrote them with me, so he has every much a right to sing them as I have to play them. But I sincerely doubt that we’ll do that. Frankly I don’t know if we could improve on this.

How do you imagine it’ll be received? People who know these songs at all only know the really really gnarly versions from nth generation dubbed tapes, or else from K.O. or the Open Up and Bleed live thing.

So far the responses and reviews are incredibly good. It’s exceeding my expectations by a long shot. There’s always going to be people that don’t like something, and there’s a lot of “Iggy bigots” that are gonna hate it because he isn’t on it. I’ve always had to live with the people that wouldn’t recognize anything that came after Fun House. But so far, on balance, the responses are really amazing, if for no other reason than that, because of all the people singing on it, this is reaching people that possibly wouldn’t have listened to the Stooges. All of these different people bring their own audiences into play, so there’s this wider group you’re exposing this music to.

So is there anything happening with the Stooges in the future?

We haven’t discussed it. I’m beginning to have my doubts, because next year, Iggy’s going to be 68 years old. Think about going out and like, stage diving, at 68 years old. Think you could do it?

I’M NO IGGY POP!

*laughs* Well, the only thing that makes me say it could happen is that if anyone will do it, he will. I have doubts. And I also have to admit I’m a part of that equation, and right now I don’t have to think about it, but if I had a serious offer to do it, I’d really have to think about it. I’m not getting any younger either, but then, all I have to do is play guitar. So I could go out and do that, but I also feel a kind of duty to uphold the honor of the name. I don’t want us to be like the Rolling Stones. To me, they’ve ruined their brand. They’re just too frickin’ old. They’re still really cool guys, but they’re really cool REALLY OLD guys. I’d never go see ‘em anymore. So do I want the Stooges to be like that? No, I want people to remember us like, even the last tour we did, we were still really burning up the stage, some people at any age can’t do that. That’s what I want the memory to be. At this point I’m open to it if we can pull it off, but there are lots of reasons not to do it, too.
 

 
Williamson was right about these songs getting compared to the old versions, because we’re going to do that right now. Here’s the Stooges’ demo for “I Got a Right.” This has ended up on various bootlegs, and even got a small but legit release, on a super limited deluxe edition of Raw Power. This song completely fuckin’ smokes.
 

 
And here’s a teaser of the version with the BellRays’ Lisa Kekaula. This also completely fuckin’ smokes. If you’re watching at work, be advised there’s a stripper in the video.
 

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