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kottke.org posts about The Stooges

When Lost Recordings Get Found

posted by Tim Carmody   May 03, 2019

Iggy and the Stooges.jpg

Strictly speaking, there are plenty of live recordings of Iggy Pop playing with The Stooges. They’re just all bootlegs. And mostly, not very good ones.

Most vintage Stooges concert recordings sound too awful to interest more than hardcore fans, because incredible performances are sunk in a swamp of low fidelity. Adding insult to injury, all the horrible bootleg covers with cheap fonts make the band look like camp horror rock better at chest cutting than songwriting, which undermines the band’s legacy as visionary rock ‘n’ rollers who set trends for decades. As one fan’s friend put it while listening to a bootleg: “[W]hy does everything you have by Iggy Pop sound like it was recorded up someone’s ass?”

For Longreads (and it is a long read), Aaron Gilbreath writes about a lost live Iggy and the Stooges album that was contracted to be recorded in 1973. However, the label decided never to release the album — and may have never recorded the concert at all.

Gilbreath’s essay turns into a kind of meditation on lost albums: recordings hidden in the archives, that sometimes are rediscovered, and sometimes are never found.

A live 1957 recording of John Coltrane and Thelonious Monk sat in the Library of Congress’s archives unnoticed for 48 years, before the library’s Magnetic Recording Laboratory supervisor Larry Appelbaum found it. For 60 years , Verve stored a live recording of Ella Fitzgerald performing at Zardi’s Jazzland in Hollywood, before releasing it in 2017 just after what would have been her 100th birthday. In 2017, a DJ and music historian named Amir Abdullah helped unearth a pristine radio broadcast of Charles Mingus playing a Detroit gallery in 1973. Reels containing previously unknown early live recordings of jazz guitar giant Wes Montgomery sat for decades in peoples’ houses, falling apart.

The demo cassettes for Jimi Hendrix’s Black Gold Suite album project, thought lost for decades, or possibly stolen, were simply sitting in drummer Mitch Mitchell’s house, sealed with Jimi’s headband.

I have less hope for this lost Stooges album, though. Too many people who were in a position to know suggest that it just never happened. Oh well. At least we’ve got bootlegs that were shoved up someone’s ass.