Telluric Chaos - The Stooges (Skydog)
A new album and this should send more than a ripple of excitement through the worldwide ranks of Stoogeaholics. It’s not the expected studio effort - have patience ‘cos the word is that’s still happening - but a presumably legitimate release of a 2004 show in Tokyo, courtesy of French label Skydog.
Skydog has borne the brunt of criticism over the years and I can’t pretend to have any insights into the rights and wrongs of the sources of their releases or their payment of royalties. What I do know is that the label should garner a degree of respect, if only for both championing punk rock on the Continent and for keeping the Stooges’ name alive. Ever heard of “Metallic KO”?
“Telluric” means “organic” or “from the earth” and it’s a fitting title. The 2005 Stooges are a way more structured entity than the pothead sloths that schlepped into an LA studio with little more than some riffs and a well-defined sense of their outsider status, to record the masterpiece that is “Funhouse”. With today’s Stooges shows you know there’s going to be an invitation from Iggy for the audience to invade the stage most of the time; that they’ll reprise “I Wanna Be Your Dog”; that he’ll ask for the lights to go up so he can see the crowd; that’ll he’ll rail against something or someone. It’s all part of the ritual. Even allowing for that, there’s still an earthy sensibility to all that the Stooges do that can’t be denied. Put it down to Rock Action’s lead-weighted feels or Brother Ron’s oft-recycled but massively influential lead break (singular), the Ig’s unique vocalising and his focal point status as an energy source. It’s A Timeless Thing and very definitely Real O Mind.
On “Telluric Chaos”, there’s the usual slew of pre-“Raw Power” tunes: Pop-Williamson co-writes are a no-go zone – and fair enough since that edition of the Stooges was a completely different band to the early versions. What is here is delivered in a way that will delight anyone who hasn’t had access to the many contemporary unofficial recordings that are out there.
Having heard about 15 reunion shows - including this one, which has been booted and shared in not-for-profit form between fans - Tokyo rates as one of the best. Bassist Mike Watt is by now right at home, and the rest of the band pushes outside the confines of familiar material in places – tacking a new intro onto “1970” for example – while Steve Mackay’s sax honking has a solid place.
It’s the quality of the new material coming down the pipeline that will ultimately determine how this re-grouping of the Dum Dum Boys will be viewed over time and on that score, the jury is still out. This live version of “Skull Ring” has Steve Mackay’s adornments and wears them well, despite sounding lighter and less primal than its studio cousin. “Dead Rock Star” is also from the “Skull Ring” album, and is no better or worse live. It’s Iggy in croon mode and that upsets some purists, but I have to confess to being indifferent. The surprise here for most will be the previously unheard “My Idea of Fun”. The nihilism of a line like “My idea of fun/Is killing everyone” unavoidably sounds forced, coming from a Dostoevsky-reading Rolls Royce driver from Miami but, hey, not every lyric has to be read literally. The song’s brutal melody works for me.
Sonically, I'd put this on a par with the exisiting boot and it's easier to procure, so there aren't too many reasons not to grab a copy. You need reasons?