The Stooges 1971: Ron Asheton, Jimmy Recca, James Williamson, Scott Asheton, Iggy Pop
The Stooges Ask The Musical Question: Who Stole James’ Trousers?
The first time I met Lenny Kaye, in early ’77, the subject of the Stooges came up and he told me–“they were at their peak around ’71, when Ron and James were both playing guitar, if they’d recorded that line up, they’d have really kicked ass”. I’ve been dreaming about hearing that line up ever sine. I didn’t get a chance to see the Stooges until late ’73 when I ran away from home and hitch hiked to Atlanta and caught four sets over two nights at a club called Richards, still one of the best rock’n’roll shows I’ve ever seen by white people. Anyway, one of the Richards shows was recorded and will be released by Sony next year as part of a deluxe Raw Power box set. But right here and now, thirty eight years later, the Easy Action label has issued a 4 CD box set– The Stooges- You Want My Action (1971 Missing Link), taken from audience recorded cassettes, you get two shows from the Electric Circus in New York, one from the Factory in St. Louis (in much better sound quality than the nearly unlistenable bootleg that’s been around for years, miscredited as from the Kiel Auditorium), one from the Vanity Ballroom in Detroit (the first show of the tour). They’ve also thrown in a final show of the tour when Ron, Scott and Jimmy Recca played a contract fulfilling show without Iggy and James Williamson. The set list is roughly the same each night— I Got A Right, You Don’t Want My Name, Fresh Rag, Dead Body/Who Do You Love (the Bo Diddley tune, radically re-worked), Big Time Bum, and Do You Want My Love. The first Electric Circus show also includes Iggy crooning Shadow Of Your Smile. Except for I Got A Right, none of these songs were ever recorded in the studio (although I do remember in Lester Bangs Stooges cover story in Creem, Feb. 74, he made reference to Fresh Rag being recorded while a record company executive’s wife was around and she took offence to the tune), if it was recorded in the studio my guess is it would have been done around the time of I Got A Right and Gimme Some Skin. Keep in mind that the original recording of Raw Power was rejected by Tony DeFries, their manager at the time and re-recorded. Where are the original Raw Power tapes today?
Anyway, You Want My Action is a real labor of love and well worth the sixty bucks, there are plenty of rare photos, a booklet, and it’s not in a goddamn jewel box (I hate those fucking things), it’s a classy package, unfortunately it’s not available on vinyl (my only complaint). While you’re a it check out some of their other releases, some of them look pretty cool– a Velvet Underground 45 RPM box set, a live Sonic’s Rendezvous Band set, lots of rare T. Rex, etc.
While on the subject, Robert Matheu’s The Stooges: The Authorized and Illustrated Story (Abrams, 2009) is finally out, a big coffee table size mother of a book, chock full of rare photos, many of which have never been published before. At the risk of repeating myself, Paul Trynka‘s Iggy Pop bio– Open Up And Bleed (Broadway Books, 2008) is finally the biography worthy of its subject. If you haven’t read it yet, you’re in for a treat. Also not to be missed is this recent interview with Iggy and James Williamson from the Detroit Metro Times. Now billed as Iggy and the Stooges, the name they adopted in ’72, they have shows booked for 2010, the line-up now being: Iggy, Scott Asheton, Mike Watt, Scotty MacKay and (drum roll….) James Williamson who took an early retirement from his executive job at Sony. The later four put in some rehearsal time last summer and Iggy joined the rest of the band in L.A. in September for more practice. The set list will focus on Raw Power-era material. I guess I’ll have to leave the house again. Only the Stooges get me out the door these days.
I’ve been spending a lot of time listening to the interview tapes done by Gillian McCain and Legs McNeil for Please Kill Me (Grove Press, 1996), the book contain probably less than two percent of the material they collected, and needless to say, I’ve been going through the interviews with Ron, Scott, and Kathy Asheton, as well as Bill Cheetham (haven’t gotten around to Danny Fields or Iggy yet) carefully taking notes (I didn’t even take notes in college). Maybe I’ll try and come up with some highlights to post soon…or dare I say it, a whole book of outtakes?