The Quietus - A new rock music and pop culture website


The Stooges
Live At Goose Lake August 8th 1970 Richard Foster , August 7th, 2020 07:49

Live At Goose Lake August 8th 1970 is a true rarity – a Stooges live cut that actually sounds good, finds Richard Foster

Buried deep in the footnotes of Jon Savage’s England’s Dreaming are some wise words written about The Stooges live bootlegs: “Caveat Emptor”. Stooges bootlegs, often recorded from the crowd, are notorious for sounding whack. Many are worth checking only for the (often superior) sleeve artwork and desperate notes, enjoining you to part with your hard-earned to experience a live band that was “like a demented junkie, hellbent on retribution”. I suppose you could justify the awful hiss and roar that envelops many of these recordings as time capsules, or reflections of the creative chaos that undoubtedly happened on stage.

But then only Stooges fans buy Stooges bootlegs. And Stooges fans always get cast by the great and the good as obsessive nerds, normally loner middle-aged blokes from unhip places like Runcorn or Bochum. Men who haven’t grown up. Just like the band, in fact. And Stooges fans who buy all the bootlegs - from (the great) Metallic K.O. and Live at Ungano's to those of (ahem) “OK” quality such as Academy of Music/Latin Casino 1973 – could be seen as inhabiting a deeper level in the circle of Rock Hell.

Then there are the individual Stooges themselves. So often described as a bunch of Grade A fuck-ups, it's often easy to forget how enervating and singular their music was back in the day. And probably why this release - one of the very very few documenting the band’s original line up in excellent sound quality – is such a gem. One that can be listened to by anyone, in fact.

First of all we should talk about the sound, taken from the mixing desk. The sheer quality of it can really hit you, especially if you take a deep breath and surrender to it. Tracks like ‘TV Eye’ and ‘1970’ act like breaker waves, swallowing and then spitting the listener out like a hapless part-time surfer. Because of this, the closing two tracks - ‘Funhouse’ and ‘LA Blues’ - are eye-openers. A demented ‘Funhouse’ sees the sax being turned up to earbleed levels on the monitor; the result sounding like an unholy mix of early Roxy Music and Sons of Kemet. Or a very punk Land of Kush. Then there is the sonic starship known as ‘LA Blues’, which takes off where ‘Funhouse’ stopped; splendid anti-rock rock music, a side of the band that is woefully overlooked.

We should also talk about the style of playing on Live At Goose Lake... Firstly - and finally - we hear Ron Asheton in full flow on lead. The breaks, chops and patterns on ‘Down on the Street’, ‘Dirt’ and the Saturn-orbiting ‘Funhouse’ are sublime, eschewing flash for focus and foregrounding a real sense of muscle and grit. I far, far prefer his playing over Mr Williamson’s. And this show is a great reminder that his expressionist, choppy style was such a beacon to those that came after. Joy Division fans take note.

Hearing brother Scott Asheton on sticks is a revelation too: a much more subtle drummer that you would imagine, he knocks out what sounds like a bastardisation of the Bo Diddley beat moonlighting as a rock pattern, with a lot of jazz and funk elements chucked in to boot. There is a strong early Funkadelic feel, especially in the fills and overall sense of rhythm on ‘Dirt’ and ‘LA Blues’, which is as close to a document of early 70s Detroit (with the MC5 Alice Cooper Funkadelicness turned up to 10) as you’re probably ever going to get.

Another great thing about this particular gig is that Iggy channels his considerable personality through the music. We get the odd aside but nothing that gets in the way of the show’s flow. ‘TV Eye’ is but one example. Here his digressions serve the music rather than distracting from it. With ‘Dirt’ and ‘Funhouse’, we find a similarly expressive Pop in action, wrenching every ounce of feeling from the words. Iggy as a seer not a sucker. It’s refreshing to hear. The only sad thing about the whole experience is not really registering the rumble of Dave Alexander. As in art, life.

It’s crazy to think that this line up split shortly after. They probably hated the show at the time. Regardless: let’s hear it for The Stooges, come on!