Posts Tagged ‘Dave Alexander’

Live at Goose Lake: August 8th 1970 (Standard Black Vinyl)

The Stooges are releasing a previously-unheard, “high-quality soundboard recording” of their original lineup’s final performance, which was recorded on August 8th, 1970, shortly before the release of their classic sophomore album Fun House, which they performed in full at this show. The new live album is called The Stooges’ Live At Goose Lake: August 8, 1970, and it comes out almost exactly 50 years after the show was performed, August 7th via Third Man Records.

The audio was “lovingly restored” by Vance Powell (The White Stripes, Chris Stapleton) and mastered by Bill Skibbe at Third Man Mastering, and the liner notes were written by Jaan Uhelzski (Creem Magazine). There’s a Rough Trade limited-edition colored vinyl variant with purple-colored vinyl and a standard LP jacket, and an indie exclusive version on cream-colored vinyl with a purple-colored vinyl and a standard LP jacket, and an indie exclusive version on cream-colored vinyl with a screen-printed LP jacket.

A press release reads:

The apocryphal tale of the Stooges performance at the Goose Lake Festival has been told countless times over the past five decades. Bassist Dave Alexander, due to nerves or overindulgence or whatever you choose to fill in the blank, absolutely spaces in front of 200,000 attendees. He does not play a single note on stage. He is summarily fired by Iggy Pop immediately following the gig. Here starts the beginning of the end of the Stooges.

But what if that simply… wasn’t the case? What if you could prove otherwise? Well, it’d be the
proto-punk equivalent of having an immediate, on-the-scene, man on the street report of all those folkies booing Dylan’s electric set at Newport in ‘65. Irrefutable evidence of what ACTUALLY went down. Found buried in the basement of a Michigan farmhouse amongst other tasty analog artifacts of the same era, the 1/4” stereo two-track tape of the Stooges complete performance at Goose Lake on August 8th, 1970 is the Rosetta Stone for fans of this seminal band.

Not only is this the last ever performance of the original godhead Stooges line-up, but it is the ONLY known soundboard recording of said line-up. Playing the entirety of their canonical 1970 masterpiece Fun House, the sound, the performance, everything about this record is revelatory.

Would you believe that… Alexander actually DID play bass on this occasion? Or that, despite grievous failures on some songs, Alexander is damn solid on others? Especially on the bass-led songs “Dirt” and “Fun House”? Does Iggy provoke the crowd to tear down festival barriers? Did the powers that be pull the plug on the Stooges? So many questions are answered only to have more arise.

Released to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the performance, Live at Goose Lake: August 8th 1970, is the rare release that literally rewrites the history of these Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees.

“T.V. Eye (Radio Edit)” (Live) 2020 Third Man Records,  Released on: 2020-06-10

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You might expect this documentary about legendary wild man Iggy Pop made by indie film maverick Jim Jarmusch to be a little more dangerous, but “Gimme Danger” plays it pretty straight. And that’s okay, as Jarmusch offers up this “love letter” to The Stooges, who he calls “The greatest rock and roll band ever.” Featuring interviews with most parties involved, Gimme Danger makes a great case for that, as the film goes from Iggy’s high school days when he was known simply as James Osterberg Jr, to hooking up with Ron and Scott Asheton who created a whole new sound. Or, as Iggy told ’70s daytime talk show host Dinah Shore in an infamous mid-’70s television appearance with David Bowie, “I think I helped wipe out the ’60s.”

The film follows the rise, fall and reunion of the Stooges, formed in Ann Arbor, Michigan in the 1967 by singer Iggy Pop, bassist Dave Alexander, and brothers Ron Asheton and Scott Asheton on guitar and drums respectively. Guitarist James Williamson eventually joined the band, with Ron Asheton switching to bass after Alexander was fired.

The band found little success during the first phase of their career, recording three albums that did not sell as well as their record companies expected, and performing for audiences that were largely indifferent or hostile. They broke up in 1974, and the band members went their separate ways with vocalist Pop establishing a moderately successful solo career. In time, the Stooges proved highly influential on the development of punk rock in the 1970s.

The Stooges’ original lineup reformed in 2003, with bassist Mike Watt replacing the late Alexander. Ron Asheton died in 2009, and Williamson rejoined the band for their fifth and final album.

Stooges

The original punk album, The Stooges is a Molotov cocktail delivered straight to the faces of the hippies of 1969, an album made by Michigan goons who were sick of everything, and wanted to be your dog. The album marked the arrival of Iggy Pop, one of the last true rock ‘n’ roll iconoclasts, and though the album was considered an historic bomb upon its release–it never cracked the top 100–it influenced basically every glam, punk and post-punk album released in its considerable wake.

The album’s original mix by producer John Cale was infamously rejected by Elektra Records–they thought it sounded too abrasive–and it has never appeared on vinyl. Until now. A new way to hear a classic album, this version is presented in the way that John Cale originally intended,

First, there’s the story of the album, which is that when the Stooges recorded this, 51 years ago, it was produced by John Cale, fresh off quitting the Velvet Underground. And he immediately realized that the Stooges should not sound like the Doors, or the Byrds, or whoever else. They were raw power, a barely contained riot, a train bearing down on you as you’re tied to the tracks. So he gets them to record their eight songs, one of my favorite side stories is that the Stooges showed up only having five songs, thinking that was more than enough for an album, and then lied and said they had eight when questioned and had to write three more basically overnight and he mixes the album like it’s this murder in real time, just all fuzz, and violence and ooze. The suits at the label hear this mix, and say what ,in retrospect everyone would say about the version that came out: That it sounded like shit, that it sounded dumb, that it was too uncontrolled to see release. So they fire John Cale, and ditch his mixes, and Iggy and Jac Holzman from Elektra re-mix and resequence the record, which is the version that comes out now.

John Cale’s original vision was the album as sort of a redemptive arc; his version ends with “I Wanna Be Your Dog,” which he saw as Iggy deciding to fall in line with society. The label saw it as one of the singles, so it’s on side one on the original version. So anyway, the original Stooges comes out, and it’s a bomb. But it secretly influences basically every hard rock band that has come since; it’s not an over-exaggeration to say that there’s basically no hard rock if the Stooges don’t lay the groundwork for punk on this album. It’s rightly lauded as one of the most important albums of all time.

Yeah, so meanwhile, there’s this version of the album that basically just lived in Stooges lore, that John Cale’s mix existed but was scrapped. And then in the early ’00s, these tapes walk into Rhino, and somehow, someone has a copy of the John Cale mixes. The speculation is that someone cut an unauthorized walking version of the album basically, one to take home and they confirmed with John Cale that what was on the tapes were his mixes. So they put the album out in digital form in 2010, however, they realize later that they actually released the album at too slow a tempo; the version on the tapes they found was likely recorded not from a deck, but from an echo machine, so for almost 10 years, the version known as the “John Cale Mix” was actually way slower than it should have been.

They corrected the tapes for the 50th Anniversary edition that came out last fall digitally. And this is the final part of the story: WEA/Rhino came to us to ask if we wanted to do the first original vinyl pressing of this album, and once we realized what they were asking, this was a no-brainer. We all listened to it, and I, for one, couldn’t believe that songs I’ve loved since I was a teen could sound even more like they were coming from the end of the scariest alley in town. We’re getting to present one of the most important albums in rock history, and doing so in the way it was originally meant to be heard. It’s a tremendous honor for all of us on the music team.

It’s one thing for us to tell you that the John Cale mix of The Stooges sounds gnarlier than the original; it’s another to let you hear it. Here’s a mini-doc telling the story of the album, and comparing the two records.

You have to remember what it was like before. For a full quarter of 1969, the No. 1 album in the country was the soundtrack to Hair, Blood, Sweat and Tears had a No. 1 album for seven weeks and, no offense to Al Kooper, but nothing on that group’s self-titled told life like it really was in 1969. The music that made its way to the charts back then, how life was on the ground for a Michigan resident raised by a working class family whose only prospects were the already-dying assembly lines or the frontlines of Vietnam.

And then, 10 days before the opening of Woodstock, it also is the ground zero for every angry album of noise that came since; without it, you don’t get glam, you don’t get British or American punk, you don’t get pop-punk, Green Day, and you maybe don’t the evolutions that happened to bring us every type of metal music. You don’t get any of it. Instead, Thank God, and Michigan, then, for The Stooges.

The Stooges were never a safe bet; not only in the “are they going to be coherent enough for shows?” way, but especially in the “These guys are gonna be stars!” way record labels are usually looking for. Fronted by James Newell Osterberg Jr., who came from a trailer park in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and who played the drums as a kid after his parents gave up their bedroom for him to have the space to play. Eventually ol’ James was banging the skins in a band called the Iguanas when he got his nickname, Iggy Pop. Sometime in 1967, at 20, and dropped out of the University of Michigan, Iggy saw the Doors, who were then known as a travelling disaster, as frontman Jim Morrison turned each gig into something like performance art crossed with a riot. Iggy decided he didn’t want to be behind the kit, and wanted to be out front doing that. He linked up with the Asheton Brothers Scott and Ron two guys who liked to party as much as he did, and could play the shit out of their drums and guitar — and Dave Alexander, a guy they all liked who had just recently started teaching himself to play the bass. They played their first show as the Psychedelic Stooges on Halloween, 1967. They’d ditch the hippie shit soon enough. Iggy and the Stooges quickly got a reputation around Michigan, particularly in Detroit, where another band of street toughs called the MC5 had set up shop. The bands became kindred spirits, and often shared bills; the MC5, though, always sounded like they wanted to be hard rock Motown, where the Stooges felt like they were a raw nerve set to make music. Anger and self-loathing and depression set to primitive funeral marches and barely contained war parades. Eventually, an enterprising A&R man from Elektra named Danny Fields signed both bands, in a bid to make Elektra the home of new Detroit rock. Both the Stooges and MC5 would be unmitigated disasters from a corporate level, the MC5 lasting a single album (1969’s live proto-punk volley Kick Out The Jams) before their careers flamed out in booze, drug busts, and legal troubles.
If Elektra was worried their two-pronged Detroit rock machine was in danger following the MC5’s debut getting savaged by Lester Bangs in the pages of Rolling Stone he eventually came around on it, as critics were allowed to do in those days — they had still had no fear in April 1969, when they sent the Stooges to Hit Factory in New York City to record their self-titled debut. They hired a recent underground rock hero named John Cale to produce the album, fresh off his time in the Velvet Underground, where his artiste sensibilities meshed with Lou Reed’s misanthropy to make the first two Velvet Underground albums, case studies in taking a label’s money, doing something no one had done before, and paying the cost for it with low sales while gaining a reputation for being ahead of your time (which the Stooges would soon follow). The Stooges came to the studio with only five songs (“No Fun,” “1969,” “Ann,” “We Will Fall,” and “I Wanna Be Your Dog”), thinking that’s all they needed to make an LP, and when they were told they needed more, lied and said they had them, and went off and wrote three more (“Not Right,” “Little Doll,” and “Real Cool Time”), playing them for the first time as a whole group in front of Cale in the studio. Those eight songs served as the foundation for too many rock movements to line up in paragraph form here, but more than 50 years later, the thing that has to be remembered is how shocking something like “I Wanna Be Your Dog” had to be to people who were used to “Incense and Peppermints.” That opening noise is like an electric chair being fired up, and the death march riff sounds more evil than any Swedish Black Metal band has mustered with 50 years advancement in guitar technology. Iggy didn’t want to hold your hand, he didn’t want to be your baby; he knew he was a dirty dog, and felt he deserved to be treated as such. Iggy studied at the altar of the Chicago blues for a time in the ’60s, and from there he took the willingness to be self-effacing and pitiful; no one sounded more put through a meat-grinder before or since.                    
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Svz3va6iekThe Stooges took rock and stripped it down to its barest studs and refused to build it back up on The Stooges. Something like “No Fun” might have read to people like Robert Christgau as “stupid” in 1969, but it’s without any artifice; it’s all attitude, all raw power. “1969” was the first song about teenage malaise and boredom to actually sound like it was made by people who were sick and tired of being sick and tired; entire bands’ discographies would be pilfered from its two verses:

“Well it’s 1969 okay All across the USA It’s another year For me and you Another year With nothing to do, Last year I was 21 I didn’t have a lot of fun And now I’m gonna be 22 I say oh my and a boo hoo And now I’m gonna be 22 I say oh my and a boo hoo”

When the band finished recording in April, 1969, Cale delivered his mix to Elektra, and things hit the fan. Mixed in a raw, naked form that emphasized the sinister, wild side of the band over sonic clarity, the original Cale mix of the album was rejected by Elektra, in a portent of things to come. Cale’s mixes were thought lost before resurfacing in the early ’00s, and after being originally released at the wrong speed, they’re out on the right speed on vinyl for the first time.

But in 1969, Cale’s mixes weren’t appreciated; Elektra president Jac Holzman and Iggy himself remixed the album, bringing the vocals higher into the mix, and lowering some of the abrasiveness. At this point, it was clear both men thought the Stooges had some commercial potential if they just cleaned it up, which, even without hindsight, is enough to make you spray water out of your nose. Albums this hard didn’t move units in 1969, and they don’t move them now. The people at the front of the herd hacking their way through the wilderness don’t get to enjoy the fruits of the civilization they made possible, and The Stooges hit the marketplace like a brick to the philtrum. It made next to no impact on the charts (it eventually rose to 106 on Billboard’s album charts, but died quickly), was savaged in reviews, and was left to be consistently rediscovered by every generation of fucked up kids who came since; it eventually got its place in the pantheon, but by as much force as is present on the album.

To Elektra’s credit, they kept the Stooges on roster for another LP; 1970’s Fun House added jazz skronk to its mix via saxophonist Don Mackay, but when it too went over like a lead balloon, the band broke up, amid Iggy’s worsening heroin problems, and a lack of much juice in their career. Thanks to David Bowie staking his new stardom on his adoration for Iggy, the band reformed in 1973 on Columbia with Raw Power, and around guitarist James Williamson, whose leads were more punk fury than Asheton’s blues-based piledrivers, and that band broke up almost immediately when Iggy went further into heroin and began palling around with Bowie as a solo artist. Iggy would become something of a solo star and a cultural icon over the years, but until the early ’00s, he and the Stooges remained mostly broken up. However, they reformed with the Ashetons (Dave Alexander died in 1975 of alcoholism-related illness) back on guitar on drums, where they’d both remain until their deaths in 2009 (guitarist Ron) and 2014 (drummer Scott).

Iggy has talked recently of packing it in for good, his legacy cemented under nuclear-blast level concrete at this point. And he should; the man has lived enough lives for a whole litter of kittens. His debut album remains one of the most direct statements of purposes for a recorded body of work that has maybe ever existed; Iggy and the Stooges came to cave in heads, and it’s taken them more than 50 years to even think about stopping.

Back in 1999, Rhino Handmade had an early triumph with the release of the 7-CD box set The Fun House Sessions, chronicling the making of the album from the quintessential proto-punk bad boys, The Stooges.  Now Run Out Groove has boiled down that set into four sides of vinyl and fourteen choice selections as “Highlights from The Fun House Sessions”.  Recorded with producer Don Gallucci of The Kingsmen at Elektra Sound Recorders in Los Angeles back in May 1970 as The Stooges’ sophomore effort, Fun House made “Louie, Louie” look positively tame, and was commercially unsuccessful upon its initial release.  But its influence as a key building block in the punk revolution can’t go unnoticed, as it quickly developed a cult following among both critics and fans.  Blending fast and furious hard rock with improvisation and even a jazz element thanks to Steve Mackay’s saxophone and the loose feel, Fun House showed Iggy Pop, Dave Alexander, Ron Asheton, Scott Asheton, and Mackay at their most primal yet still pushing the musical envelope forward.

The first two sides of Highlights are sequenced to follow the track order of the original LP, with the third and fourth sides offering additional alternate takes, fly-on-the-wall studio chatter, and a 17-minute jam session/early version of the closing “L.A. Blues” entitled “Freak.”  There are plenty of ferocious nuggets here that are illuminating to fans of the original album but accessible enough to be enjoyed on their own.  Take 6 (Reel # 6) of “Down on the Street,” the lone A-side drawn from Fun House in its final version, spellbindingly pulsates.  The taut garage band performance on “Loose” (Take 16, Reel 4) is almost-but-not-quite-commercial, no small accomplishment for The Stooges.  Like Alexander’s throbbing bass on “Dirt” (Take 5, Reel 11) or Ron Asheton’s screaming guitar on “1970” (Take 2, Reel 1), Iggy Pop’s throaty wail on “See That Cat (T.V. Eye)” (Reel 2) explodes with no compromises.  Desperation drips from his raspy delivery on “Lost in the Future” (Take 3, Reel 3).  Outtake “Slide (Slidin’ the Blues)” offers something a bit different, with Mackay’s tenor sax wending through the bluesy drawl.  Everything about Fun House is even more primal and raw in these alternate versions – musically unflinching, brutal, and immediate.

Designed by Peto Gerth, Highlights from The Fun House Sessions boasts a glossy gatefold with new liner notes.  In a fine touch, the two multi-colored swirl 180-gram LPs, stored in protective sleeves, have vintage Elektra butterfly replica labels.  With The Complete Fun House Sessions long out-of-print in CD format, this vinyl collection of screeching, raw power is a welcome arrival.