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‘Acoustic KO’: Stooges classics stripped down by James Williamson and Radio Birdman’s Deniz Tek
03.27.2017
08:44 am

Topics:
Music

Tags:
James Williamson
Stooges
Radio Birdman
Deniz Tek


 
Though he achieved his greatest notoriety as the founder of Australia’s punk progenitors Radio Birdman, Deniz Tek is a Detroit kid—no surprise, as guttural guitar ferocity like his has the Rust Belt written all over it. Radio Birdman were shot through with Detroit influences, specifically via the Stooges—their name came from a misheard Iggy lyric, and their rehearsal space/clubhouse was dubbed the Funhouse.

In later post-Birdman years, Tek would play in bands with ex-Stooges, like New Race with Stooges guitarist Ron Asheton, and the short-lived (exactly two gigs) and underdocumented Dodge Main, whose live lineup featured the MC5’s Wayne Kramer, Stooges’ Scott Asheton, Sonic’s Rendezvous Band’s Scott Morgan, and The UP!’s Gary Rasmussen, with Jimmy Zero of the Dead Boys.
 

 
Now Tek is releasing a four-song E.P. with later Stooges guitarist James Williamson, titled Acoustic K.O. a play on the title of Iggy and the Stooges’ live album Metallic K.O.. It features four Williamson compositions—“Penetration” and “I Need Somebody” from Raw Power, and “Night Theme” and “No Sense of Crime” from the 1977 Pop/Williamson album Kill City. The acoustic transformations are startling and quite effective. Per Williamson:

The songs of Acoustic K.O. are pearls from my youth, which are almost equally familiar to Deniz Tek from his. In fact the same could be said for the others on this record, to varying degrees. The process of recording them acoustically enhanced their luster with new clarity from re-interpretation. We love how it turned out.

He ain’t wrong—“I Need Somebody” seems a natural for an acoustic treatment, and the new version with Tek maintains the original’s menacing stomp. A more substantial transformation occurs on “Penetration,” but the E.P.’s real stunners are “No Sense of Crime,” on which Tek duets with Annie Hardy of Giant Drag, and “Night Theme”; the original on Kill City it’s a noisy-ish guitar theme-and-reprise suite that straddles the LP’s two sides, but here it’s a lush instrumental featuring a full orchestra.

It’s DM’s pleasure today to premiere the stream of the entire release…listen after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Iggy Pop fronts a Stooges-MC5 supergroup, 1978
12.22.2016
02:20 pm

Topics:
Music
Punk

Tags:
Iggy Pop
MC5
Stooges


 
After the demise of the MC5, guitarist Fred “Sonic” Smith assembled a new band with members of three other Detroit bands of the period: the Stooges (drummer Scott Asheton), the Rationals (guitarist and singer Scott Morgan), and the UP (bassist Gary Rasmussen). The resulting combo, Sonic’s Rendezvous Band, recorded what is for me the great American single of the 70s, “City Slang.”

Iggy spent 1977 touring with different configurations of the players on The Idiot and Lust for Life; the only constant was Tin Machine’s future rhythm section, comprising Soupy Sales’ sons Hunt and Tony. In an interview with I-94 Bar, Gary Rasmussen explains how Iggy came to recruit SRB for his ‘78 tour of Europe, on which former Stooge Scott Thurston replaced Scott Morgan:

I think at that time, [Iggy] was having trouble with his record company. He’d been a mess, screwin’ up, and he pretty much needed to prove to the record company that he could do a good tour with a good band - it had to be somethin’ special - and that he wasn’t just a total junkie and all that stuff. He called up and was talking to Scott Asheton to start with, and then to Fred. We knew Iggy because he’d come through with his band and we’d go see ‘em, and we’d be playing some awful place down in Detroit, in Cass Corridor or somewhere, and Iggy would be playing at the Masonic Temple; he’d come to our gig after, y’know, and come up onstage. We were all friends.

So at that point, I think he needed something like that, and asked if we would do that - come and do a tour with him and be his band. Scott Thurston was in that band… Scott was already with Iggy, so he knew all of the songs that Iggy was doing, he knew kinda what was going on, so I think Iggy wanted to keep Scott Thurston in on it, so he didn’t need Morgan, basically. You don’t need another singer… if you ever tried to harmonize with Iggy, you’d realize it’s a pretty hard thing to do. But we didn’t need another singer, we didn’t need another guitar player, so Scott was kinda left out of that one.

 

Iggy Pop onstage with Sonic’s Rendezvous Band, Detroit, 1979 (photo by Robert Matheu, via robertmatheu.com)
 
In the same interview, Morgan says that the tour with Iggy contributed to SRB’s premature dissolution. I’m sure that’s true, and it’s a shame; on the other hand, this is surely one of the best bands Iggy ever had. The Copenhagen bootleg embedded after the jump, which popped up on YouTube earlier this month, is the shit. (For comparison, check out the quality of this boot from the tour’s Stockholm date, and while you’re there, listen to that night’s “Kill City.”)

Keep reading after the jump…

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
‘TOTAL CHAOS’: An exclusive look at must-have Iggy Pop book that goes way in-depth on the Stooges
10.25.2016
09:29 am

Topics:
Books
Music

Tags:
Iggy Pop
Stooges

Total Chaos
 
It’s a great time to be alive for fans of the immortal proto-punk wizards, the Stooges. Jim Jarmusch’s documentary on the band, Gimme Danger, hits theaters this week, and TOTAL CHAOS: The Story of the Stooges comes out in mid-November on Third Man Books. I can tell you, based on my preview, TOTAL CHAOS is phenomenal—a must-have for all fans of the group. The book is constructed around in-depth interviews with frontman Iggy Pop, and a slew of of rarely seen memorabilia, which together tell the story of the Stooges. Those praising the band via their own contributing essays include Johnny Marr, Joan Jett, and Jack White, as well as noted scribes Johan Kugelberg and Jon Savage.

We have exclusive excerpts for you from TOTAL CHAOS. The text and images revolve around the seminal Stooges LP Fun House, one of the greatest albums of the entire rock era. In the first interview excerpt, Iggy talks about the stage name he has used since the time of Fun House. The moniker appeared for first time within the album’s credits, the inspiration coming from a friend of Stooges bandmates Ron Asheton and Dave Alexander.

Jim P-o-p-p was one of the delinquent friends of Ron and Dave and one of the people that hung out with that group. He had sniffed too much glue and lost a lot of his hair early. And he just had such a great last name that one day I was in the Student Union [at the University of Michigan] sneaking some coffee and I thought about what a great name he had. He was laying there sleeping in one of the booths. Townies would go over there to get cheap food. Sneak into the Student Union and just hang. And later I thought, “Well, I don’t know. I wanna be…” It was really even before the first album came out I started calling myself Iggy Pop, and then they [the record company] just said Iggy Stooge. So yeah, I nicked it from Jim Popp.

 
Fun House poster
‘Fun House’ promo poster (Johan Kugelberg collection)
 
Writing the material for Fun House:

The groups we liked were starting to do really sophisticated things. At the same time, whether it was my personality or the fact that he was now getting laid regularly, or a little bit of the fact that everybody has their own rate of production and their own event horizon and Ron’s was slow; somehow from my point of view, Ron went into a tunnel at that point and I could not break him out. He came up with a few ideas that I thought sounded like our first album but not quite as good, and the one of them that was the best was “TV Eye.” So I got him to try an arrangement. He just had it as sort of a chord thing. I said, “How about if we get to that point, but start it out single string like a Booker T thing.” He knew that reference and he tried it, but to do that, I had to camp outside his door day and night. Hassle him.

So most of the rest of the record, I wrote on a Mosrite guitar with a fifty watt Marshall amp up in my room and only Ron could have played it so wonderfully, but most of that, I wrote. Now Ron tells me later, he said that Dave did the riffs to “Dirt” and “Fun House.” I would say I hope so, but I don’t remember it that way. But without that one “T.V. Eye” riff and without hearing how great it sounded when he played it, the single string with the resonance and then build up, I would have had nothing to build on, so he was the bedrock of that album.

Gay Power
Iggy on the cover of ‘Gay Power: New York’s First Homosexual Newspaper,’ 1970 (Jeff Gold collection)

When asked if it was his idea to record Fun House live in the studio:

I believe so. We came out and we were gonna do this our way and Don [Gallucci, the producer,] went along with it but we compromised in that they, for my vocal I believe they ran a double feed. To the board and to the other and mixed it. The engineer was a charming, cultured British individual. I’d never met anybody like this and I was instantly charmed and reassured and I trusted him and I believed in him. His name was Brian Ross-Myring and I didn’t know he did Barbra Streisand apparently, but he had an unflappable quality.

 
New Old Fillmore
The Stooges perform in San Francisco for the first time, 1970 (Jeff Gold Collection)

I just remember that in San Francisco some of the Cockettes
were in the front row and I was psychedelicized that night. More than several of the Cockettes were dressed up like Carmen Miranda gone wild and I was like, “what the hell is this”—and I loved it—“this is so cool and bananas and oranges and you know calico scarves and the whole thing.” The other big thing I remember about it was, when we were—it was either during sound check or maybe somewhere during the gig when weren’t playing—this strange kind of cocky hippie with granny glasses approaches me and he said, “Hi, I’m Owsley Stanley,” and he was real pleased, he was already pleased with himself, and he made some sort of comments, I can’t remember what, but I did meet [LSD kingpin] Owsley and talked with him a little bit. I mean that’s what you do if you go to San Francisco in 1970, you meet the Cockettes and at least one member of the Psychedelic Set.

 
Fun House master tape box
The ‘Fun House’ master tape box, with the track sequence the band wanted, which was altered slightly by Elektra (Jeff Gold Collection)

On audiences:

It was always better when you had some activity in front, always. It’s really hard without that, and sometimes we’d get, it ranged from violent activity to people thinking like “hey we get the joke” and come in with peanut butter or sometimes we’d have a lot of just female rock action—it just would depend really where we were. The one thing that always gave me heart was I was very aware that we were the only group I knew of, or entity, that had absolute—I never saw any audience movement while we played for the first, I’d say ’68, ’69 and ’70, nobody said, “Oh I’m gonna go check out the t-shirt stand,” or “I’m gonna walk around and see if I can pick up some chicks or go get a whatever.” No, uh-uh, everybody stayed in one place. So I knew we were onto something, you know?

 
Uganos
Iggy in the audience during a gig at Uganos, New York City, August 1970
(Photo: Dustin Pittman; Jeff Gold Collection)

TOTAL CHAOS author Jeff Gold first saw the Stooges in the ‘70s, and has been a fan ever since. He provided much of the memorabilia pictured in the book, and conducted the Iggy interviews that appear in it, along with Johan Kugelberg. He’s worked at various record labels, including A&M when Iggy was signed with the company in the mid-to-late ‘80’s. I asked Jeff a few questions via email.

I’ve only met a few people who can say they saw the Stooges back in the day. You saw them in 1973. What was that like?

Jeff Gold: It was the strangest “show” I’d ever seen. I’d heard of them, but didn’t really know who they were. I was a huge David Bowie fan and the fact that he’d gotten his management to sign them, and mixed the album was enough to get me to spend $2.50 to see them at the Whisky in Los Angeles. The whole show lasted maybe half an hour. I’d heard Iggy was a wild man who cut himself with glass, so I was prepared for something unusual. He was wearing only blue metallic bikini underwear—nothing else—which at some point he threaded through the microphone stand, humping it. He was definitely under the influence of something, and spent part of the show wailing about butt-fuckers in Hollywood, and after about 30 minutes, he started falling down and Ron Asheton, I think, had to help him off stage. It was total chaos, which is the title of the book, but completely compelling chaos, and unforgettable.

Being such a fan, I imagine it was a strange experience when you found yourself working with Iggy at A&M.

Jeff Gold: By that time I’d worked with many famous musicians, but Iggy was someone I was a big fan of personally, which wasn’t always the case. I’d seen him on the 1977 tour for The Idiot, with Bowie on keyboards, which was a much more “professional” affair. But still you never know what someone will be like offstage, so I was both excited and a bit wary. But Iggy was and is the greatest. He was friendly, had lots of good ideas about album covers, videos, and marketing, and was a real pleasure to deal with. I remember taking him out to lunch early on, and being sort of blown away—I’m having lunch with Iggy Pop!
 
Iggy, 1970
Iggy, 1970 (Photo: Robert Matheu)

How long have you been collecting Stooges memorabilia? What do you consider to be some of the more interesting items in your collection?

Jeff Gold: I began collecting records and memorabilia in the early ‘70’s and when I saw interesting Stooges stuff, I’d buy it. I left Warner Bros. in 1998, and got back into buying and selling music stuff full time, and that coincided with the dawn of eBay, so there was much more of it on the market, and I took advantage of that. As for the Stooges things I find most interesting, I bought copies of all of their original contracts from Danny Fields, who signed and later managed them. After my years working for record companies, it was wild to see what a late ‘60’s record contract looked like, and that they were signed for only a $5,000 advance. Iggy didn’t have these, and was very appreciative when I gave copies to his lawyer. Hidden amongst them was a letter from Elektra to Danny Fields attempting to pick up their option on Iggy as a solo artist, after they’d dropped the Stooges. Iggy never knew they wanted to sign him as a solo act, and it blew his mind to find out about it all those years later.

Continues after the jump…

Posted by Bart Bealmear | Leave a comment
Raw Power: Rare 1973 footage of Iggy and the Stooges escapes right into your living room!
10.17.2016
12:41 pm

Topics:
Music
Punk

Tags:
Iggy Pop
Stooges
Ivan Kral


 
Much has been said about musical miracle man Ivan Kral here on Dangerous Minds. Born in Czechoslovakia where rock ‘n’ roll was heavily frowned upon, Kral came to the United States with his diplomat parents in 1966. After the Warsaw Pact Invasion in 1968 he decided to stay here as a refugee.

Young Ivan bought a Super 8 film camera to keep a visual diary & filmed loads of rock n roll starting with Murray The K shows in the mid 60s. As time progressed this all around talented musician played with Blondie, Shaun Cassidy’s teen glam band Longfellow, a long and fabled stint with the Patti Smith Group, Iggy Pop and many many more. During the early years of the dawning of punk he was filming everything, much of which was edited into two underground films Night Lunch and Blank Generation which were shown all the time at Max’s Kansas City, and were the first glimpses my generation got of the early days of our favorite bands that we had just missed due to our age.
 
kdtghity
Ivan Kral and friends
 
Watching people in his films like the Dolls, Wayne County, Ramones, Television, Blondie, Talking Heads all before they made records (except the Dolls) and watching these films in the clubs they were filmed in while the same bands were still playing there was strange to say the least. I can’t imagine what seeing them now for the first time would feel like. These very primitive silent films were shot on crude black and white film stock that made the participants look like they could be from some decadent 1920’s Dada club, or from any time besides NOW. It’s wild to think that these films were just about two years old when I first saw them!

Of his most infamous short films that never made it to these two compilations is the footage Kral shot of Iggy and the Stooges in 1973 at the Academy Of Music on 14th Street in New York, where I spent much of my teenage life seeing middle-sized touring bands on their way up (or down). The infamous yearly Frank Zappa Halloween shows were held there before and after the name was changed to The Palladium, outside of which I can be seen as a kid making a fool of myself in the Zappa film Baby Snakes. Whenever The Stooges films have showed up they have been in black and white and very short, like under a minute.

My old friend, rock superfan and writer Madeline Bochario alerted me to this wild color footage with sound that just appeared on YouTube. A way better and quite lengthy version of the Ivan Kral footage.

Search and destroy, while you can, after the jump…

Posted by Howie Pyro | Leave a comment
Imaginary pinball machines of Hawkwind, The Stooges, Jim Jones, and more
05.23.2016
08:58 am

Topics:
Art
Games

Tags:
Hawkwind
Pablo Escobar
Jim Jones
Stooges
pinball


 
If you’re as much of a pinball nut as I am, you’ll flip over these fantasy back glass illustrations by Charlie Fogel.

Illustrator/cartoonist, Fogel has loads of amazing work on his Plop Culture Prints Facebook page, but these imaginary pinball games are something special. I’ve been hooked since seeing the first one in his series, Jonestown, featuring a grinning Jim Jones holding a silver ball and dishing out Flavor Aid to busty beauties.

Since that first piece, Fogel has created five more fantasy machines depicting, in order of their release, the band Hawkwind, Jodorowsky’s arthouse classic Holy Mountain, notorious drug lord Pablo Escobar, the nuclear tests at Bikini Atoll, and a Stooges Funhouse piece.

Fogel told Dangerous Minds a bit about the pinball series:

I was lucky enough to grow up with a pinball machine in my house that my dad inherited from the firehouse where he tended bar—I’m just now realizing how the countless hours of staring at it informed the way I draw. I got the idea for these at the Pinball Museum here in Asbury Park, looking at how random and awkward a lot of the subject matter of the old machines are. They’re the basest of advertising art, using totally overt sex, violence, bright lights and loud noises to stand out in a crowded bar or arcade. It’s a perfect vehicle to keep addressing the stuff I’m obsessed with (Jim Jones, for instance) without repeating myself or others work on the subject. It’s also cool because all the machines of that era, from the design down to the electronics, are totally analog—but still manage to overpower your senses without any slick computerized fluff. That really appeals to me as someone who works almost completely in analog methods and materials.

All of these illustrations are 12 inches square, mixed media on Bristol board. Fogel is planning to create six to ten more similar pieces to present in a gallery setting. Until then, you can view his work on his Facebook page or his website plopcultureprints.com.
 

 

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More after the jump…

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
‘The Mecca of Hip’: Essential doc on Detroit venue where the Stooges & MC5 made their marks
04.15.2016
10:32 am

Topics:
Movies
Music

Tags:
MC5
Stooges
Grande Ballroom

Louder Than Love: The Grande Ballroom Story
 

“Detroit made you good.” –Alice Cooper

Louder Than Love: The Grande Ballroom Story is a must-see film for anyone who gives a shit about the history of rock-n-roll and ‘60s counter culture. The tale of the Grande Ballroom, the legendary Detroit venue, is one that’s needed to be told for some time. Hell, just for the fact that the Stooges and MC5 made their marks there is reason enough, but the ballroom was also a popular stop on the touring circuit, with some of the biggest acts of the period gracing its stage. Through archival footage and photographs, plus new interviews with those who were there (many of whom have since passed on), first time producer/director and Detroit native Tony D’Annunzio lays out how it all went down, making us wish we could’ve been there to see it. As a Detroiter, I was often beaming with pride as I watched the documentary, despite the fact that I was only a couple of years old when the Grande closed its doors.

The Grande Ballroom is a building that drew artists of all sorts into its vortex, and is still revered by those who set foot in it. It’s a venue where bands had to give their absolute best in order to impress Detroit audiences. It’s a place that—like Alice says—made you good.
 
Opening night
Outside the Grande on opening night, October 7th, 1966 (photo: Emile Bacilla)

Designed in the Moorish/Art Deco style and located on Detroit’s west side, the Grande Ballroom opened in 1928. The venue hosted big bands and was a mecca for dancing couples for decades (it could hold as many as 1,500 boppers), but by the early ‘60s, times had changed significantly and the Grande closed its doors. Fast forward to 1966: Detroit area DJ and school teacher Russ Gibb was attending a Byrds concert in San Francisco at Bill Graham’s Fillmore West, an updated dance hall. Inspired by the sounds and sights (he was especially blown away by the psychedelic light show) of the city’s burgeoning counter-culture scene, Gibb was determined to bring what he experienced to Detroit. After investigating several locations, he settled on the shuttered Grande Ballroom. Much like it had been during its initial heyday, the Grande would once again become the place to be.

 
Grande Ballroom poster
Poster art: Gary Grimshaw

Local band MC5 performed as part of the opening festivities at the Grande Ballroom, which took place on October 7th and 8th, 1966. Russ Gibb had his friend Gary Grimshaw design the poster, and Grimshaw would continue to create advertisements for Grande events. His artwork is now synonymous with the psychedelic ‘60s. Leni Sinclair, wife of MC5 manager, John Sinclair, was part of the crew responsible for the light shows, but she is best known for the photographs she took at the Grande, as well as her films of the the Stooges and MC5. Many of the images she captured are now iconic.
  
Back In The USA cover
Cover of the second MC5 album, ‘Back in the USA’ (1970). Photo snapped by Leni Sinclair backstage at the Grande.

Other area rock acts that honed their chops at the Grande include the Amboy Dukes, the Spike Drivers, SRC, and the Rationals. Bands that made appearances at the Grande while on tour include the Velvet Underground, Pink Floyd, the Mothers of Invention, Sly and the Family Stone, Howlin’ Wolf, the Yardbirds, Led Zeppelin, and the Who. Tom Wright, who managed the Who at the time and would later oversee the Grande, said that he “had never seen the Who try harder” than during their 1968 show at the ballroom.
  
The Who
The Who (photo: Tom Weschler)
  
Jimmy Page
Jimmy Page, The Yardbirds
  
Iggy
Iggy Stooge/Iggy Pop, The Stooges (photo: Leni Sinclair)
  
Wayne Kramer
Wayne Kramer, MC5 (photo: Charlie Auringer)

Unlike the “peace and love” hippie outfits that made up the bulk of the San Francisco scene, the Detroit bands were raw and gritty. One such act was more associated with the Grande Ballroom than any other, and that was the all-powerful MC5. Known for their explosive performances, the band became a staple of the venue. The 5 were keenly aware they would have to work hard to earn the love of the blue collar Detroit audiences, and incorporated the Detroit work ethic of the city’s auto workers into their act. Every group that shared the stage with the 5 learned they too had to bring it, which subsequently made them up their game—or risk leaving the place hanging their collective head in shame. In addition to being on the bill for the ballroom’s 1966 opening, other notable happenings in MC5 history took place inside the building: It’s where they recorded their debut album, the seminal live LP, Kick Out The Jams (1969), and where they played their final show the night the Grande closed for good, New Year’s Eve, 1972.
  
MC5
MC5

Louder Than Love: The Grande Ballroom Story has had a successful worldwide run on the festival circuit since the documentary premiered in 2012, and received a low-key video release last year. Producer/director Tony D’Annunzio has inked a deal with distributor MVD Entertainment Group, which will soon give the film the wide release it has always deserved.

After the jump, Dangerous Minds asks Tony D’Annunzio some questions about his film…

Posted by Bart Bealmear | Leave a comment
Open Up and Bleed: WILD footage of Iggy & The Stooges performing ‘1970’ IN 1970!
04.27.2015
11:00 am

Topics:
Music
Punk

Tags:
Iggy Pop
Stooges


 
Iggy and The Stooges at their most primal proto-punk prime, filmed at the Goose Lake music festival in Michigan in 1970.

If the Stooges sound a bit “thin” here, this performance was done without original bassist Dave Alexander, who arrived at the gig too fucked up to stand, let alone play.

Alexander was promptly fired. A heavy drinker, he died at the young age of 27 in 1975. He was name-checked a few years later in Iggy’s spoken-word intro to The Idiot’s “Dum Dum Boys”:

“How ‘bout Dave? OD’d on alcohol.”

 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Less with the raw, still with the power: James Williamson resurrects lost Iggy & the Stooges songs
10.29.2014
09:32 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.
 

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment