The gift of Goose Lake and why you need to unwrap it

stooges promo 1969The original Stooges.

Ben Blackwell is one of the most important figures to come out of the Detroit music scene in the past 30 years. Whether it be his drumming with the Dirtbombs, his work crewing for and archiving The White Stripes or his running of Third Man Records, Ben is yet another in a long line of significant musical names to have come from the Motor City.

Third Man Records has just dropped the Stooges album “Live at Goose Lake”. Recorded back in August 1970, the show it documents is a seminal and infamous moment in the band’s history. It was the last gig the band played with bassist Dave Alexander.

Mining unearthed Stooges gold is a labor of love for Ben Blackwell

iggy in repose

Nobody loves a band more than a diehard follower of the Stooges. Through thick and thin, they cling to whatever recording detritus or tidbit of lore is handed down, like a drowning man clutches a life preserver in an ocean liner sinking.

They chase every bootleg with the fervour of a pre-urban renewal Cass Corridor junkie hustling a hit. They celebrate the band’s posthumous legend status and annoy non-believers with trivia, simultaneously living vicariously through the stories of the Stooges' addled (pre-reunion) stumbles and falls.

All this and more is why the news that broke in June this year about a high-quality desk tape concert recording of the original line-up materialising, a full five decades after the event, hit the faithful like a phalanx of neighbourhood leaf blowers at 7am on a hungover, suburban Saturday morning.

Tales from James Ferrell, The Phantom Groovie

groovies cretell france 1972The Flamin' Groovies in Paris in 1972 with James Ferrell at right. 

Long obscured in the Flamin’ Groovies behind Cyril Jordan, Roy Loney, Chris Wilson and even tight-lipped man of mystery, George Alexander, guitarist James Ferrell is a key player in the band’s story. Along with his best pal Danny Mihm, James served in both the Loney-fronted and Wilson-fronted incarnations of the Groovies, and in Loney’s brilliant subsequent band, Roy Loney & The Phantom Movers.

James climbed aboard the Groovies train, replacing Tim Lynch, in Roy’s final days – he plays on the classic 1971 Fillmore recording that’s been released on both Voxx and Norton as well as other labels – and lasted through to 1976. He took part in the early European sojourns, their time with UA in London and the prime days of their relationship with Dave Edmunds and Rockfield Studios. That relationship produced game-changing 45’s, including “Slow Death” and “You Tore Me Down”, as well as the landmark and hugely influential "Shake Some Action" album.

James was there for the band’s legendary shows with the Ramones – on the 1976 Bicentennial bill in London and in LA - before departing the band and ultimately falling back in with Roy and Danny.

Meet the Boss: A Wild and Free chat with Godfathers mainman Peter Coyne

peter coyn mic standThe ruling class, powers that be took good music off the public airwaves years ago and replaced it with insipid lifestyle programming, fake news, and bullshit unreality shows. They tried and tried to kill authentic rocknroll, but the latest Godfathers side, "Wild & Free", bursts boldly outta your shitty headphones fulla wide awake, bristling and lacerating Stooges riffs, tempestuous Thunders leads, irrefutable energy, and a pulverizing, powerhouse vocal: "Gonna start a war against ignorance and hate!"

This is essentially everything you can ask for, from a never say die, present day rocknroll band you can trust. Even after all these years, vocalist Peter Coyne and company are still conquering the forces of negativity and oppression and banality of evil with anthemic truth, and fully alive soul power. Play it now!

The bootboys and pint hoisters of the world already know what you get with the Godfathers. Memorable melodies, scream along choruses, visceral, passionate emotions, sneeringly defiant lyrics, and a heavy beat you can dance to. I dunno the names of the other guys in the Cure right now, but I'm pretty certain I know what they're all about. Same holds true with the Godfathers, who have always been about critical thinking, fierce independence, breaking the chains, the underground railroad, fully committing, and holding fast to your own guiding principles, even and especially when it means trudging against the ravages of time and hard winds and useless trends and popular currents of manufactured consensus.

Throughout the many storied incarnations and always evolving reinventions of Godfathers lore, many of the top guns in the business have flown under the proud Godfathers banner. "I'm Not your Slave" is golden pop you're gonna love. The "Hey Hey Hey Whoos" were made for you and me-it's gonna stay in your head for days. Peter's got a freshly rejuvenated lineup of reliably stone cold hit-men, but it's honestly like he has never missed a beat. The new Godfathers sound a whole lot like the original Godfathers, and that's almost maybe more than we should even hope for, in these perilously volatile and turbulent and unpredictable times, when there's so little to believe in.

"MC5 A True Testimonial" stirs back to life

 a true testimonial logo

After a few false starts and 16 years after being stopped in its tracks by court action, the long-stalled documentary "MC5: A True Testimonial" is showing signs of coming back to life.

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The film tells the story of the MC5. In 2004 - after rave reviews on the festival circuit and on the eve of its commrcial release -  filmmakers David C Thomas and Laurel Legier were taken to court by former Five guitarist Wayne Kramer over a claim he had been promised to be the film's musical producer. In March 2007, a court ruled in favour of Legler and Thomas, and the decision was upheld on appeal.

But the damage had already been done. Media preview copies had been widely bootlegged, and securing musical rights to make a commercial release viable proved problematic.

In March this year, a Twitter account with the handle @MC5movie shuddered into life. We now understand there are fresh plans to re-launch the film into movie theatres, digitally and in deluxe physical format...with a caveat: Be patient.

There's no timeline in place and the entertainment market has been severely disrupted by COVID-19. The only certainty is that it will happen evnetually and be worth the wait.

It's now appropriate to take a trip back in The Time Tunnel and revisit a 2001 interview by KEN SHIMAMOTO with DAVID C THOMAS, exhumed from our own archives. Settle in and soak it up while we wait for the main feature.

It's Ron Asheton calling from the Fun House

time tunnel logoWe're hopping back into the Time Tunnel...this time to dig up a late-'90s interview with late Stooges guitarist RON ASHETON by KEN SHIMAMOTO.

It was November 1998. Ron was at his home in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He was talking up the prospects of a release and possible tour by supergroup Wylde Ratzz, off the back of the movie "Velvet Goldmine" for which they'd supplied some of the soundtrack. It failed to materialise and the J Mascis collaboration that helped ignite the Stooges reunion was also in the future. 

The interview is one of the most revealing Ron Asheton pieces up until then, laying to rest some misconceptions about his attitude towards fellow Stooge James Williamson, and showing him to be a musician who fervently wanted to not only express his own music as much as reclaim some of his old band's legend. 

Vale Marc Zermati, champion of underground rock

time tunnel logoLast weekend was marked by sad news that the founder of French label Skydog Records MARC ZERMATI had passed away.

Zermati is owed a huge debut by fans of the Stooges, in particular. He kept the memory of the Stooges alive for decades, releasing the live "Metallic KO" album and other material when nobody lse seemingly cared. He was the promoter of France's first punk rock festival and a driver of underground culture. We thought it was timely to extract this 20-year-old interview he gave to KEN SHIMAMOTO.  

Cultural desert spawned The Victims' punk brilliance

victims ray dave jamesThe Victims are now Ray Ahn, Dave Faulkner and James Baker. 

Given the current restrictions on social gatherings, there is a certain irony in the story of The Victims’ first gig in Perth in early 1977. Perth, by some calculations, the most isolated capital city in the world, didn’t have a big punk rock scene. After all, this was the era of bland commercial radio, flaccid cover bands and conservative social attitudes.

When drummer James Baker, guitarist Dave Faulkner and bass player Dave Cardwell set up at the sharehouse in one of Perth’s light industrial inner suburbs to play in front of 50 enthusiastic garage and punk rock fans, they’d pretty well captured the entire Perth punk market. But get that many people in a house right now, even to listen to a Ramones record, and you’d be breaking the law. Back then, all the audience cared about was that there were other people who felt the same way about music.

“Music for us was rebellion against the conformity of the city, being so isolated. Because everything we loved was so far away,” Faulkner says.

The late Robert Matheu's lens eye view of high-energy history

Stooges Grande AsthmaAttack 1969 MatheuA Stooges Asthma Attack at th Grande Ballroom in1968. Robert Matheu photo. 

time tunnel logoThe year 2006 was something of a watershed for fans of high-energy rock and roll of the Detroit variety. The reformed Stooges were in full flight and an historic six-CD, eponymous Sonic's Rendezous Band box set came out on UK label Easy Action.

The box set's executive producer of the box was ROBERT MATHEU, a Detroit-raised and former Creem magazine staff photographer. Sadly, Robert passed away in 2018, but a dozen years before, he told the back-story of the box set to the I-94 Bar - and of course regaled us with stories about the MC5 and the Stooges. 

We're revisiting many of the stories originally published on the I-94 Bar that were archived when we moved virtual location a few years ago. This is one of the trips back in The Time Tunnel. 

I-94 Bar