The Stooges, “Live at Goose Lake: August 8th, 1970”

The Stooges
Live at Goose Lake: August 8th, 1970
THIRD MAN RECORDS
9/10

At a time when the fiftieth anniversary of the proto-punk, pre-No Wave noise totem Fun House is being celebrated by Rhino with a fifteen-vinyl box set (it’s worth the pricey entrance fee), Third Man breaks it all down with the sole live recording of the final set from the original Stooges lineup. Sure, Iggy Pop, the Ashetons, and avant-garde saxophonist/guest Steve Mackay (bassist Dave Alexander was dismissed following their set) are focused on the then-still-fresh Fun House, but really it’s the manic, panicked, raw powerhouse of a band tearing at its tethers, and unleashed by weird chemicals that makes this Goose Lake gig a primal treat—and the stuff of legend (see Jim Jarmusch’s Gimme Danger for that account).

Fueled by an in-the-red sound far superior to the cassette-recorded Metallic K.O., yet holding onto The Stooges’ brusque, brutal thwack, Live at Goose Lake captures the band in full, frenetic death swoon, along with the chaos of what was reportedly a horse tranquilizer–laced mess of a fest (the Goose Lake International Music Festival, no less), featuring fellow Michiganders Bob Seger and the MC5.

From Mackay’s free verse solo on the elastically mesmerizing “Fun House” to the curt, cutting buzzsaw of “T.V. Eye,” the (oddly) sensual Stooges were in a most menacing form, with Iggy—their howling front man, their snot rag of a singer—at his caterwauling best. Every short Ron Asheton guitar solo pokes through the dense mix of the Goose gig like a machete in a sugar cane field. From pummeling through the set’s early tracks such as “Loose” through to the bleak blues of “Down on the Street,” and finally the moaning, droning “L.A. Blues,” the band, as a whole, moves from fraying (as if a black lace dress had split a seam) to being engulfed in molten lava flames.

“1970 (I Feel Alright)” has a tribal funk to it. The bass-bin-driven “Dirt” is, quite frankly, aptly titled, swollen in a gutter (until it’s not—apparently his amps were cut) and just crusty enough to get why Iggy fired Alexander after this show. And before you believe that this gig, as usual, was Iggy up-front and center, think again: for better and worse—mostly better—this volume-up live moment shows how frantic and unique The Stooges were as a unit, burning both ends of a candle at once, but doing so together.

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