The Stooges- James Williamson’s Return

Raw Power, Live at the Planeta Terra Festival, Nov. 7, 2009, San Paulo, Brazil

Search & Destroy

Cock In My Pocket

Death Trip (this must be the first time they ever played this one live)…

The Stooges are back, with James Williamson on guitar, a year ago this would have been almost unthinkable, but with Ron Asheton’s passing there was no other man for the job. Oddly enough “Straight” James had just taken an early retirement from his executive job at Sony.
He sounds great, still playing the Les Paul he played on Raw Power, great set list that included
pre-Raw Power material and two Iggy solo tunes (Lust For Life and The Passenger). The whole set list can be found here. Steve McKay is now onstage for the whole set, playing a lot of sax and some percussion, I can’t wait for ’em to hit NYC…

20 thoughts on “The Stooges- James Williamson’s Return”

  1. While we must allow for Williamson's having not played for three decades, and listen to his performance here with admiration and approval–he's still got it and he still sounds like himself–I've come to the conclusion that Ron's playing really is–was–superior…at least, for the role it served in the Stooges. James's playing lacks the “brown sound,” to use a phrase Eddie Van Halen has applied to him self; rather, it is, relative to Ron's playing, a bit thin and trebly. This is not to say James' playing isn't fierce, but he really needs another instrument in the mix to supplement him…here it's MacKay's horn, 35 years ago it was Scott Thurston's piano, and before that, Ron's co-guitar, (and on RAW POWER, himself overdubbed).Where James doesn't quite fill up the sound himself, Ron did. His playing was thick and deep and was a wall of sound unto itself. Over time, he had developed into a powerful lead player, as well. Ron's sound and playing was a force of nature, while James' is not quite that.I had always preferred the guitar maelstrom of RAW POWER, but my feelings about Ron's playing vis a vis James' has unavoidably changed after hearing this show and having seen and heard recent Stooges shows with Ron.Too bad Ron isn't still alive and they can't consider reviving the dual guitar line up of Ron AND James…that would have been unbelievable!

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  2. “The role it served in the Stooges” implies that they served the same role, and even that they played in the same Stooges. In fact the original band, the Raw Power band, and the transitional 1971 band were all very different, with very little overlap in material. It's pretty clear in retrospect that Ron and James were each perfect for their version of the band, and that neither of them could really do what the other did (James never played much Ron material during his years with “Iggy & The Stooges”, and Ron only belatedly added a stripped-down “Search And Destroy” to Stooges sets near the end of the reunion tours). You may like one version of the band — and that guitarist — better, but that's another story. Allowing for the fact that we're talking apples and bowling balls here: Ron was always pretty trebly too. The big difference I hear is that Ron was big on leaving open strings droning while he'd grind away on the upper fretboard — that's a sure way to really fill out the sound in a one-guitar band. James is a more precise player, and while he doesn't do the wall of guitar thing the way Ron did, when his rhythm playing locks in with Scotty and Ron (and now Watt), it creates a very different and very powerful kind of bigness.

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  3. Well, by referring to “the role it served in the Stooges” I'm saying that if either Ron or James of today played in other musical settings, other bands, their respective strengths might serve one or the other of them better…context is everything. In this context, and based at least on this initial, single show, I am less satisfied with James' playing than I was with Ron's playing in the reformed Stooges. Of course, with repeated performances, this particular version of the band will gel more, and James' chops will probably get sharper and surer.But I think the open string droning thing of Ron's that you refer to is a part of his sound that I prefer to James; I don't say James is not an asset to the Stooges or that any other guitarist alive could do; he is and none other could. But Ron was stronger overall…in my opinion.But put this version of the Stooges in NYC and I'll be there!

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  4. Again, apples and bowling balls. Ron couldn't have created — or even covered — Raw Power, any more than James could have created Funhouse. If you insist on saying one of them is stronger than the other, I'd say wait 6 years until James has had as much time to get back into the Stooge groove as Ron did, and then decide.

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  5. “If you insist on saying one of them is stronger than the other, I'd say wait 6 years until James has had as much time to get back into the Stooge groove as Ron did, and then decide.”Well, that's more or less what I said when I presumed that more performances by this version of the Stooges will see James' chops get stronger. Now that we've covered this, what inker do you think was best for Jack Kirby?

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  6. The JW vs RA argument is one I've never gotten involved in, I like 'em both, but to be fair, if you listen to the live cuts where Steve McKay is just playing tambourine (S&D, etc.) his sound fills up the place just fine. James' song were more complicated, and had more chords than Ron's which is probably why he wanted another instrument to fill out the sound.

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  7. Great Clips the Hound!*** guitar geek aside.That is Williamson's LP Custom in the first 2 clips.On the 3rd and 4th songs, Cock In My Pocket and Death Trip, Williamson is playing a handmade Les Paul Special type guitar with 2 P-90's (Collings 290) built by Collings in Austin TX.

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  8. “On the 3rd and 4th songs, Cock In My Pocket and Death Trip, Williamson is playing a handmade Les Paul Special type guitar with 2 P-90's (Collings 290) built by Collings in Austin TX.”Also he plays a Strat during Loose and Funhouse….

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  9. Okay, I recorded the audio from every video, sequenced them in set order and burned them to cd. I'm just now coming to the end, with “Death Trip,” my own all-time favorite Stooges tune, just about to end, to be followed by the last tune, “Lust For Life,” (a song I've never been partial to).I must say: it's much more entertaining and rocking than one can glean simply from watching each of the videos one by one.I do look forward to their playing NYC.

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  10. IF you happen to be signed up for Dime a Dozen, the audio for the entire show was posted earlier this week. It sounds great to me, though to be honest, I could live without some of the Solo Iggy tunes the band plays. I dig both Asheton's and Williamson's guitar playing, they are both amazing!

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  11. You can view some pics of mine of JW taken about a month and a half before this gig at my site hereinhttp://fastfilm1.blogspot.comBecause I plow all of my resources back into still photography equipment upgrades, I wasn't able to record/save this show. Is there anyone out there who could make me a dvd? Contact info on my website.

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