“This set is for the hardcore fans only,” says Easy Action’s website, and only 1,000 of the faithful will be able to acquire what amounts to the most historically-significant and, frankly, mindblowing aural document of The Stooges since Metallic KO captured the band’s death throes in 1974.
Stooges lore has monolithic original guitarist Ron Asheton making way for search-and-destroy axe assassin James Williamson, the former later returning on bass for Raw Power. For a few months in 1971, however, both aimed their heatseeking guitars from the same stage, blasting twice the six-string firepower over drummer Scott Asheton, bassist Jimmy Recca and Iggy at his most crowd-baiting, stage-vomiting extreme. If that conjures thoughts of ultimate high-energy heaven, magnify it tenfold and send it to hell.
With the band’s approval, Easy Action has pulled off a major coup, acquiring former Stooges A&R man Danny Fields’ cassette recordings, capturing a previously-unheard transitional phase (complimented by the usual meticulous packaging, including previously-unseen photos). Four CDs present as many sets: their first show in Detroit in April 1971, two from New York’s Electric Circus in May and St Louis later that month, plus a July Michigan show where Iggy and James didn’t show and the remaining three were joined by local singer Steve Richards.
Apart from the stunning thermonuclear guitar avalanches, the sets are startling because, except for I Got A Right, they consist of songs not heard before or since these shows. These include Big Time Bum, You Don’t Want My Name, Dead Bodies, Fresh Rag and the gloriously psychotic Do You Want My Love, which builds to a cataclysmic freeform coda of terrifying proportions.
Some might quibble that this is a cassette recording, but that misses the point. The audience babble adds to the luridly-compelling atmosphere, while Iggy, at his most stoned unimmaculate, croons The Shadow Of Your Smile before announcing, “Our next selection is entitled New York Pussy Smells Like Dogshit.” These field recordings are so car crash vital and elementally-charged that audio-fidelity nit-picking becomes irrelevant, especially as this particular slab of history would never repeat itself. For more info, visit www.stooges1971.com and www.straightjameswilliamson.com.