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Published: 2010/12/20
by Brian Robbins

The Stooges
Have Some Fun: Live At Ungano's

Rhino Handmade

Just in time for the holidays comes a newly-unearthed blast of Iggy Pop and The Stooges, captured in the raw at a 200-head NY hole-in-the-wall known as Ungano’s in August of 1970. “Raw” is the key word here, boys and girls: this is not some painstakingly-disassembled soundboard recording that’s been remastered to studio-quality sonic standards.

Nope.

What we have here is basically a field recording that captures the Stooges’ mix of sweat, punk, eroticism, rock & roll, electrode gel, and amp ozone on reel-to-reel in all its distorted, badly-overloaded-at-times glory.

Our field trip time capsule actually begins on a New York sidewalk, pre-gig, as some show-goers discuss Iggy with a certain amount of trepidation. It’s clear they don’t know quite what to make of him: at one point, a young gal describes him as “a little bit like a baby Mick Jagger” and says that the recently-released Fun House “is, like, about 45,000 times better than the last one” – although she declares that she doesn’t “really dig him, ‘cause, like, he jumps into the audience and puts meat on his body.” (Was it meat – or was it peanut butter? Ah, well … let the record show that before there was Lady Gaga in her meat dress – long before – there was Iggy Pop.) Her companions sound equally at odds with their feelings about The Stooges – but guess what? They were headed to Ungano’s nonetheless.

Some monotone-voiced poor soul attempts to introduce The Stooges to the record-release party crowd as Iggy bellows “Take it!” into the mic a couple of times; the MC escapes the stage as the band crashes, tumbles, and lurches into “Loose”; the sound immediately pegs every needle in the building – The Stooges are off and running.

The band’s Ungano’s set follows the tracklist from Fun House with the arrangements stretched and jammed-out to allow for Iggy’s launches into the crowd. More than just churn and bang, The Stooges make use of added guitarist Bill Cheatham, whose presence allows (the now-late) Ron Asheton to go deep with his lead work without worrying about the rhythm side of things suffering. (Again I ask: why has there never been a wah pedal dedicated to Ron Asheton? If you can wrap your head around the word “tasteful” being applied to anything related to The Stooges, then let it happen with Asheton’s pedal work.) Ron’s brother Scott sounds like he’s beating the drums with lengths of 4”x4” studs, while roadie-turned-bassist Zeke Zettner plays like he knows that a steady low-end whomp is the only thing keeping the whole works from spiraling off into someplace even weirder. (Check out his slinky rumble weaving its way around the guitars’ dangerous-sounding stutter and bark on “Dirt”.)

And Iggy? Well, Iggy is all snarl and yip-yip and growl and screech, testifying, taunting, teasing, and torturing both his larynx and the PA. The Stooges were on and off the stage in less than 40 minutes, but it’s doubtful anyone left Ungano’s feeling shortchanged. Saxist Steve Mackay joins the fray during the latter half of the set, adding everything from bluesy wails to mad elephant roars. By the finale (“Have Some Fun/My Dream Is Dead”), things have evolved from reckless, wild-eyed Bo Diddley-flavored spaz to total tumble-headfirst-down-the-stairs free jazziness. People were nervously checking for the nearest exit – just in case. I guarantee it.

Don’t count on your Aunt Edna knowing that this is what you want in your stocking, boys and girls. You’re probably going to have to grab some of that Christmas cash, log onto Rhino Handmade and lay hands to some fun at Ungano’s for yourself. The two big H’s – heroin and hiatus – were on the horizon for The Stooges in August of 1970, but on the night captured here, they were nothing short of sweat-soaked primordial-punk brilliance.

Comments

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maria December 21, 2010, 17:15:09

nice writing on a great subject.

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