Tuesday, June 01, 2010

A Tale of Two Reissues: The Stones & the Stooges

I've never bought that line about how punk was a reaction to the supposedly lame music of the early '70s. At the time I was barely out of my diapers and hardly hip to the sounds of the day, but the era is generally regarded as the peak of lotsa killer acts: Zeppelin, Bowie, T-Rex, and especially the Stones and the Stooges. The past month has seen reissues of two of the best, most influential records of the era, the Stones' Exile on Main St. (1972) and the Stooges' Raw Power (1973). Both of 'em are among my faves, and of course, both of 'em I bought. Let's start with the Stones.

Though Exile is widely considered only the Stones' greatest album, and usually ranks in the top ten of most "best album ever" surveys, my personal fave is 1978's Some Girls, followed by 1971's Sticky Fingers. In any case, "Rocks Off," "Rip This Joint" and "All Down the Line" are totally killer, while "Tumbling Dice" and "Happy" are secondary faves. The rest is great too, though I gotta admit the set as a whole has never blown me away. Maybe it will, after a few more spins of this reissue.

Thinking back, this is the fourth time I've bought Exile -- a cassette and then a CD in the '80s, another CD in the '00s, and now this new Deluxe Edition, retailing for $22.99 on Amazon. Had I shelled out $136.89 for the King Shit Super Deluxe Edition, I'd also get two vinyl LPs (it was originally issued as a double album, which now can be bought separately from this package), a 30-minute making-of documentary (also to be sold separately), a 50-page hardcover book, and reprints of the postcards included in the original album. But the biggest selling point for both editions are the ten previously unreleased bonus songs. Supposedly Mick Jagger recently recorded his vocals over the "missing" 37 year-old instrumental tracks, most of which are pretty good, while "Plundered My Soul" is great. But what would've really knocked my socks off would be some live numbers from their legendary 1972 tour. At least the Stones are finally digging into their presumably deep archives to release unheard nuggets from the past.

On the other hand, it seems that every Stooges demo/outtake/live track they've ever puked up has appeared on one fairly accessible, quasi-official release or other, so this reissue, padded with lotsa similar bonus stuff, largely amounts to more Stooges slag to throw on the heap. Which ain't a bad thing.

I fucking love Raw Power, much more than Exile and, for that matter, damn near anything else. I passed over the $12.99 Legacy Edition for the $59.99 King Shit Deluxe Edition, which, besides David Bowie's original mix of the album and a disc of outtakes, includes another iffy live recording, a softcover book, some new postcards (like the Shepard Fairey one above), a 7" single, and a making-of DVD. It's funny how most fans griped about Bowie's shitty 1973 mix, but when Iggy remixed the album himself for a 1997 reissue, many fans complained that the original shouldn't have been tampered with. While I'm generally a purist about such stuff, I strongly prefer Iggy's '97 remix.

I'm stoked that the reunited Stooges will be touring with Raw Power guitar man James Williamson in tow. Too bad the band flamed out in '74 before they were able to record a follow-up, since those post-Raw Power demo/outtake/live tracks were absolute monsters: "Cock in My Pocket," "Wet My Bed," "Rubber Legs," "Heavy Liquid," "Open Up and Bleed," "I Got a Right," "Head On"...

As with Exile, this is also the fourth time I've bought Raw Power -- sheesh. An LP in the '80s, a CD in the early '90s, Iggy's remixed reissue in 1997, and now this...

Raw Power, honey, just won't quit. Neither does Exile on Main St.

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At 4:57 PM, June 01, 2010 , Blogger Kim Thompson said...

I love "Raw Power." Now did Iggy do an album with James Williamson when Iggy did a stint in jail? Or am I dreaming that?

At 9:38 PM, June 03, 2010 , Blogger Steve said...

Yeah, they did "Kill City" together while Iggy was in the loony bin:


At 8:45 AM, June 04, 2010 , Blogger Kim Thompson said...

Oh yeah, the bin not jail. I'll need to check it out. Thanks!


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