A few days prior to their run of shows at Max’s Kansas City in July/August 1973, the Stooges arrived in Manhattan to rehearse. The band’s label provided a practice space in midtown, and tapes were made so Iggy and the boys could hear themselves. Years later, recordings were released, and they were a revelation—Iggy was absolutely on fire during these rehearsals. There are moments when his vocals are even more violent and unhinged than anything heard on the band’s studio LPs or their infamous live album, Metallic KO. Though the practice tapes lack the fidelity of those seminal releases, the intensity comes through all the same.
After a long delay, the Stooges third album, Raw Power was finally released in May 1973. The previous March, after clashes with management came to head, James Williamson was forced out of the group, but after the company dropped Iggy and the Stooges, he was welcomed back into the fold. The band also added a new member, Scott Thurston, to play piano and harmonica.
A number of friends attended the Max’s rehearsals, which were held at a studio owned by CBS Records. Natalie Schlossman, former head of the Stooges fan club, was there, as was original bassist, Dave Alexander, amongst others. With the impending high-profile dates, and as so many were watching, the Stooges gave it their all. At one point, Iggy got on top of the studio’s grand piano to cut a rug.
Recordings of the Max’s rehearsals appear on a number of archival releases, beginning with Rubber Legs (1987), the first in a string of quasi-legal albums comprised of previously unreleased Stooges tapes that flooded the market in the late ‘80s. In 2005, Easy Action Records put out the Stooges-approved boxed set of outtakes and such, Heavy Liquid (an abridged version was produced for Record Store Day last April). One of the six discs contains a Max’s show, as well as seven recordings from the Max’s rehearsals. All of the songs pulled from the practice tape were, at the time, newly worked-up tunes that, in the end, wouldn’t be formally recorded by the Stooges.
“Johanna” (later documented for the Kill City project) is particularly powerful. Said to be about a former girlfriend that got her kicks by playing mind games on the Stooges singer, the tape captures Iggy totally tortured, screaming his head off over a love he knows is toxic, but can’t quit.
The haunting ballad, “Open up and Bleed,” is another intense one. Iggy’s vocals are positively hair-raising here.
The second Max’s Kansas City gig is the one in which Iggy, as he was walking on tables in the club—with attendees including Wayne County, Lenny Kaye and Alice Cooper looking on—slipped and fell on a table full of glasses. When he stood up, his chest was covered in blood (see the photo at the top of this post). Though thoroughly cut, he finished the show.
Iggy looking ghoulish at Max’s. Note the stiches.
We’ll leave you with the opening number from the first Max’s concert, which took place on July 30th, 1973.
Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Blood, Guts and Cocaine: Ivan Kral tells us what it was like to write, record and tour with Iggy Pop
A Detroit punk band recorded kick ass covers of unreleased Stooges songs for their 1979 EP
When David Bowie was in Iggy Pop’s band: Their final concert