I go to a lot of meetings. A LOT of meetings. It seems like my work calendar these days is nothing but meetings. At these meetings lots of ideas are brought to the table, most practical, some interesting, and a select few are innovative. But I’ve never been to a meeting where someone has said something like, “You know what we should do? We should put together an all-star band made up of Seattle musicians and have them do a free show where they play nothing but Stooges covers. Oh, and they should do it on the roof of Pike Place Market, and it should be a free concert. And then we can release it on vinyl.” That sounds like a pretty cool meeting.
It all came together on a beautiful night in late August 2015, thanks to our friends at KEXP radio, the same station that helped bring us killer live vinyl releases of The Sonics Live at Easy Street and On Top! (KEXP Presents Mudhoney Live On Top Of The Space Needle). And the band they put together for this little hootenanny? Oh my, what a band it was:
- Mark Arm (Mudhoney, Green River)
- Mike McCready (Pearl Jam, Mad Season)
- Duff McKagan (The Fartz, Guns N’ Roses, Velvet Revolver)
- Barrett Martin (Screaming Trees, Mad Season, Skin Yard)
All of these guys grew up in the greater Seattle area, so it truly is a pretty impressive crew of locals.
In case you were wondering how awesome this was, you can watch and listen to the entire show online:
So what about the record? Well, it sounds pretty damn good, I must say. I found the set list a bit interesting, most notably due to the songs that weren’t played. A lot of The Stooges’ classics were left out – no “I Wanna Be Your Dog,” or “No Fun,” or “Fun House,” or “Raw Power.” However… in some ways that makes it a bit better. It makes the guys feel like something more than just a cover band hammering out the hits, almost like a cool band you’ve never heard before, especially if you’re like me and don’t have a deep knowledge of The Stooges’ catalog.
The B side is absolutely fantastic. The extended jam of “Down on the Street” has some fantastic guitar work on it, plus Mark Arm breaking out at one point to tell the fans how this show came about. The side also gives us our biggest classic Stooges number, “Search and Destroy,” one of my personal favorites.
Overall the sound quality on KEXP Presents: Raw Power – A Tribute to Iggy & The Stooges is excellent, even more so when you consider it was performed outdoors on the roof of a building. It’s limited to 2,500 units, but you can find plenty of sealed copies on Discogs for less than twenty bucks, which is a pretty good deal if you ask me. So if you’re a fan of The Stooges, or just that early proto-punk rock in general, go get yourself a copy, and you too can be a street walkin’ cheetah with a heart full of napalm…