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Reissue CDs Weekly: The Stooges - Live At Goose Lake | reviews, news & interviews

Reissue CDs Weekly: The Stooges - Live At Goose Lake

Reissue CDs Weekly: The Stooges - Live At Goose Lake

Blistering 1970 recording of Iggy and pals roaring through the full ‘Fun House’ album

It's 1970 and they feel alright. The Stooges caught on the cover of 'Live At Goose Lake'

So far this year, Live at Goose Lake August 8th, 1970 is 2020’s most exciting archive release. The album is a previously unknown soundboard recording of The Stooges playing at Jackson, Michigan’s Goose Lake Festival. The event was formally billed as Goose Lake Park – International Music Festival.

Also on were Faces, Ten Years After, The Flying Burrito Brothers and The James Gang. As well as The Stooges, other Michigan bands booked included Bob Seeger, SRC, The Litter and more. It’s estimated that there were 200,000 attendees over the three days. The event was filmed and, although what was captured was not edited together at the time, a film was made later. In full, it’s been on the internet since late last year. Clips of individual performances at the festival have been around for 12, 13 years.

What’s seen in the full film includes stoners talking nonsense, drugs being sold openly, naked people splashing about in the lake, booker and local music entrepreneur Russ Gibb chatting, irate locals and some of the bands. Mountain do their heavy thing. Ten Years After do their rock ’n roll-blues thing. Detroit’s Savage Grace are pretty impressive. But it’s The Stooges who cut through. The clip of them surfaced about 10 years ago. It’s murky, but the rendition of "1970" is razor sharp.

The Stooges Live at Goose Lake August 8th 1970Now, The Stooges’ Live at Goose Lake album emerges. Sound engineer Jim Cassily was there and made professional recordings. He also managed Teegarden & Van Winkle, who played and MCed the festival. Amongst those he taped were Chicago, The James Gang, The Litter, The Flock, Mountain, Mitch Ryder, The Third Power and The Stooges, who played from 8.45 to 9.30pm on the Saturday – a prime spot. Their set was the whole of the imminent Fun House album, played in the order the tracks would be heard when it hit the shops. Cassily died in 2005 and no one knows why he was recording at Goose Lake. His son, Joshua Rogers, found the tapes.

This is an amazing find. It is also an amazing show. The Stooges are everything they should be in 1970: hard yet sloppy, tight yet rough, always blazing. As on the studio album, sax player Steve MacKay joins them for "1970", "Fun House"  and "L.A. Blues". Listening is an experience akin to discovering The Beatles played Sgt. Pepper live after completing the album, recorded the show, then forgot about it and sprang the tape on the world out of the blue. Here is one of the world’s greatest bands performing one of their three astonishing albums live at just the right moment: when the album was still fresh in the collective mind.

Fun House was recorded at Elektra Records’ own Los Angeles studio from 11 to 25 May 1970. The first release to emerge was a single of "Down on the Street" and "1970", issued on 20 July. The album was released on 18 August (this date is as per the Fun House box set and Robert Matheu’s Stooges book). Album launch shows were booked in New York, at Ungano’s from 17 to 19 August (Danny Fields’ audience tape of the first date there has been released).

The Stooges Live at Goose Lake August 8th 1970 posterThroughout this period, the band intermittently played live. Shows are known on 7 and 8 May in Los Angeles at The Whiskey A Go-Go; Cincinnati Pop Festival, 13 June (filmed: two songs were shown on TV); Birmingham Michigan, 24 July. And then there was Goose Lake, on 8 August. Adding all this activity to the knowledge that the album was effectively recorded live, with take after take of each song taped until the best version was selected for release, it’s clear The Stooges of May to August 1970 knew what they were doing.

However, and too much is made of this in the album insert’s essay, bassist Dave Alexander was in a poor state at Goose Lake. Booze. Drugs. Iggy Pop sacked him immediately after the set and the band’s roadie Zeke Zettner replaced him at Ungano’s (in another change, guitarist Bill Cheatham was added to the band at these shows). Supposedly, says the apocrypha, Alexander couldn’t hold it together to play the Goose Lake set opener "Down on the Street" and played badly on "Loose", which followed. "Loose", indeed, is messed up early on but throughout the set – with the exception of “Dirt”, where it's up front – the bass guitar is no more audible or inaudible from one point to the next. Alexander was not firing on no cylinders. The on-stage experience leading Iggy to eject Alexander is not apparent while listening to the recording.

What is apparent is that the cohesion and energy level increase markedly five songs in with "1970". An already blistering performance suddenly assumes a nuclear-fission level of energy. Next up, on "Fun House" and set closer "L.A. Blues", it’s the sound of a black hole forming. Now, please could some enterprising label release Jim Cassily’s tape of The Litter’s Goose Lake set and also find out if he recorded SRC.

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