rawpowerliveThe last couple of years have been a bonusburger for Stooge aficionados who just have to own every last artifact (which presumably you are if you're reading this). Easy Action brought us live documentation of the original Pop-Asheton-Asheton-Alexander unit (the deluxe "Popped" and pristine "A Thousand Lights"), as well as the seldom-heard Pop-Asheton-Asheton-Williamson-Recca lineup ("You Want My Action") and even James Williamson's waters-testing stand with his guitar tech's y'allternative band the Careless Hearts. Rhino contributed recordings of the hitherto undocumented Pop-Asheton-Asheton-Cheatham-Zettner configuration "(Have Some Fun: Live At Ungano's"). "Kill City" got the whole reissue-and-revisionist-history treatment. Even Williamson's reform school band, the Coba Seas, have a release.

Recorded at a country club in the Catskills (where else?), the LP and DVD/BluRay "In the Hands of the Fans" documents a performance of the flawed-but-seminal 1973 masterpiece in its entirety (although not in its original sequence), plus "I Got A Right" (still hard to believe that one was written in 1971). What elevates this set over other Williamson-era reunion recordings you might have heard is the absence of Scott Thurston's keys, which tend to make things sound a little too Mott the Hoople-ish for these feedback-scorched ears, especially when Steve Mackay's playing sax on every song.

Mackay's low in the mix here, an advantage on non-"Fun House" repertoire, and Straight James shows that he's more than capable of carrying the load sans another chordal instrument, even adding some woozy slide to "I Need Somebody"'s mutated "St. James Infirmary" blooze. His chaos-lead on "Death Trip" is particularly lethal. Of course, it doesn't hurt that Mike Watt's such an assertively in-your-face player on bass; he plays Ron Asheton's lines in a way that'd make their originator proud, and is better recorded to boot. (It's worth noting that Watt has now been a Stooge longer than anyone else that held down the low end for 'em besides Ron.) Only non-snazz aspect, sonically speaking, is that Rock Action's drums get short shrift in the mix here, but no more so than they did on the original album.

Unless Iggy cuts another full-length with this reunited lineup, this could wind up being the sole officially sanctioned souvenir of the "Raw Power" band's hard-earned victory lap. While I'd still like to see an official release of one of the definitive-sounding "Open Up and Bleed" versions from European shows I've heard, this'll do just fine - New York Times quote on the sleeve and all.