I was watching the BBC’s fairly decent Alan Yentob-presented 3 part documentary on the history of the guitar last night. The Johnny Marr bit was excellent. You’ll find it here. Learn how to play ‘There Is A Light..’ from the man himself! Iggy Pop was also on, waxing lyrical about how being a guitar player was all just about being a bit of a prick (!) He must know something I suppose, and given that The Stooges only recently became friends again, he may be right.
Ron Asheton was the bit of a prick he was referring to. At the tail end of the 60s he was the proto-punk, perma-shaded, primal riffmeister on ‘The Stooges’ and ‘Funhouse’, The Stooges first 2 albums. By the mid 70’s, James Williamson’s introduction as co-writer and lead guitarist had relegated Asheton to bass playing duties on the Bowie-assisted and aptly named ‘Raw Power’. To these ears, the riffs became less prowling and menacing as a result. Iggy talks about writing the riff for ‘Search & Destroy’ here. It’s very funny. Johnny Marr rates ‘Raw Power’ highly, and while it’s still a fantastic record, for me it’s just shaded by the first two albums, in particular ‘Funhouse’.
When I first got broadband I went absolutely nuts, downloading anything I could get my hands on. Well, not anything. I wasn’t interested in the latest Bloc Party album (is anyone?) or The Doors back catalogue (I’d buy that), but I actively sought out hard-to-find gems. I was in heaven when I found the Complete Funhouse Sessions, a 7 CD set that presented in chronological order every take of every track that The Stooges recorded for Funhouse. Plus all the studio chatter you could want. “Someone’s guitar string was ringing on that one!” moans Iggy at one point. Clocking in at 7 hours and 52 minutes long, it’s not the sort of thing you’d want to play all day. Well, maybe you would. But it would drive you crazeeee. The box set was quickly out of print (only 3000 made for sale), so I had no qualms about downloading it.
Dipping into it now and again reveals wee bits and pieces I had never noticed before, and it gives you a great insight into how the tracks developed as the sessions continued. Some of the squaking sax that made the final cut isn’t on these sessions. Other tracks had the squaking sax and wah-wah mayhem taken off before the final album was sequenced. Much as I love them, Spacemen 3 clearly made a career out of re-hashing these cast offs. Much of this is uneasy listening. In fact Mrs Pan hates this stuff when I play any of it, so I tend to keep it for when I’m washing the floor. Mop in hand, I’ll strut about like Iggy. Only, with my trousers on. Here’s some of my favourite outtakes.
Down On The Street (take 2)
Fun House (take 1)
Loose (take 3 – false start)
Studio chat regarding drum roll in ‘Loose’
Loose (take 4)
See That Cat aka TV Eye (take 1)
1970 (take 1)
now go and get yer mop!