GODFATHERS OF LA PUNK – Various Artists (Siamese Dogs)
Frenchman Phillippe Mogane shouldn’t need much introduction to dedicated Stoogephiles. The then-expat photo-journalist was living in Los Angeles when he released the first 7” of posthumous “Raw Power” era gems, “”I Gotta Right” b/w “Gimme Some Skin”. That double dose of certified guitar-fueled venom bumped up the Stooges’ stocks just as punk was booming and probably didn’t do the Iggster’s profile any harm, especially in Europe. Monsieur Mogane partnered with James Williamson to bring the songs to light and fell in/drove Fan Club and Skydog, French operations that continued to churn out (and re-package) the Stooges’ legacy.
Mogane’s back, this time with his own Siamese Dogs label and a 19-track disc of seriously good stuff that bridges the gap between Stooges and Dolls-inspired early ‘70s glam and mid-‘70s LA punk.
It’s a minor observation that the LA punk scene (what’s left of it) continues to be a magnet for Euro-types. That city’s best record store on Melrose is run by a Frenchie and one of the more notable outlets for secondhand stuff in Hollywood (a few doors up from the seedy Powerhouse bar) is staffed by a Pom. Living in Kill City when Ig and Co were still in residence and trying to pick up the pieces of the Stooges, Phillippe Morgane couldn’t help but become part of the so-called scene. He became a confidant, and his photographs (seen on the sleeves some French semi-official releases) are some of the best Iggy studies ever captured. The observer became a collaborator, lending a production and promotion hand to underground bands that caught his ear. Hence, this collection.
Iggy and the Stooges are naturally well-represented. You’re probably familiar with “I Gotta Right” and “Gimme Some Skin”, but the rarely heard “Rock Action”, even in rudimentary form, is well worth having. So too, as it turns out, are cuts by the Max Lazer Band (spotty glam) and The Controllers (rock punk, rather than two-chord thrash). The Weasels’ “Hit Her With a Rake” is still guaranteed to raise the same feminist hackles that inspired raids on stores (and you’d have to question whether any intended irony would have been wasted on the intended audience) but sounds visceral enough to rate two tracks (the second a live take).
The Attitude recruited Little Richard to bash shit out of the ivories on their spiky“Hound Dog”, which attracted zero airplay at the time because it was perceived to be fucking with the output of an icon. Why is a little hard to understand 30 years down the track, but it rocks if it is a little orthodoxl. Nu Americans presaged new wave with their keyboard-infused songs, taking a less extreme note out of the Suicide book (although I’d bet neither had heard of the other).
It’s mostly enjoyable and enlightening stuff (even if “White Trash Christ” by The Controllers sounds like the greatest Ramones cop since Screeching Weasel.) I’m no student of the LA punk scene but it goes without saying that this is not an attempt at a roll call of all its precursors. Treat it as a fascinating, sometimes uneven but never boring snapshot of some of the contenders. – The Barman
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