Sometime in about 1974, stumbling through the streets of LA in a chemical and psychotic fog, Iggy Pop decided he needed psychiatric treatment. A couple of years before, Pop had teamed up with former juvenile delinquent and fellow rock’n’roll reprobate James Williamson to revive the Stooges moniker and record the flawed, but brilliant Raw Power; within 18 months, Pop was a shell, his life a chaotic mess of narcotics and sexual decadence.
Save for the perverse excitement of Metallic KO – the violent live album that signalled the end of the Stooges – much of this period of the Stooges’ existence has been limited to the hazy memories of Pop and his fans and the scratchy recordings of the odd bootleg recording. Now Pop has unofficially retired from performance, and Williamson – the one-time junkie who evolved into corporate high-flyer – has teamed up with a host of guest vocalists to bring many of the Stooges’ lost classics to life.
To hear these songs is to get a glimpse into the dysfunction of Pop’s life at the time: the self-mutilation of Open Up and Bleed, the nihilism of I Got A Right, the sexual deviance of She Creatures of the Hollywood Hills, the juvenile humour of Cock in My Pocket, the drugged out idiocy of Pin Point Eyes. Williamson’s collaborators breathe new life into the songs he and Pop wrote: Jello Biafra shrieks his way through Head On the Curve, Carolyn Wonderland plums the depth of masochism in Open Up and Bleed, Ariel Pink takes She Creatures of the Hollywood Hills into psychedelic territory even Pop couldn’t find. Mark Lanegan and Alison Mosshart are down and dirty on Wild Love; The Bellrays’ Lisa Kekaula whips up a frenzy in I Got A Right and Heavy Liquid.
There’ll never be another band like The Stooges – despite the pretensions of many a bunch of young punk rockers. Re-Licked is both a reminder of the depravity of the punk experience and a celebration of the Stooges’ idiosyncratic brilliance. – Patrick Emery