Photographs By Ed Caraeff
(Iconic Images 2017)
By Madeline Bocaro
The Stooges are on fire – their faces glowing. They are engulfed in a blaze of red, orange and yellow flames and they are generating lots of heat. Ed Caraeff shot their second album’s fold-out cover (Fun House). It was a collage of photos from the infamous evening at L.A.’s Whisky A Go Go in this book. The album cover montage resembles a flaming cyclone, the essence of the Stooges live shows – ‘burning to you straight from Hell’. Its lyrics include, ‘I’m burning inside/and I’m the fire of life’.
It all makes sense – The iconic shot of Hendrix setting his guitar on fire at Monterey Pop is also Ed’s. Caraeff stumbled into a photography career by skipping school at age 16 to photograph The Seeds at the airport. One assignment led to another.
The book of photographs, One Night At The Whisky details the Stooges’ first Los Angeles show while they were staying at the Tropicana Motel and recording Fun House. I hyperventilate as I turn the pages. Each photograph is hotter than the last one. How one man could take so many amazing photos in one night, in one place at one show is utterly astounding!
Iggy appears as a human inferno bursting out of the darkness, sometimes sublime, sometimes maniacal. He is alternately serious and playful. Wearing only tight jeans and shining silver gloves (lending a peculiar elegance and luster to the proceedings), he appears monolithic – looming out of shadows, glowing when back-lit, coming alive with illusory motion in double exposures.
The Asheton brothers Ron and Scott, and bassist Dave Alexander are also immortalized here in their prime and in their glory. “I find I can only work with certain people. There’s a craziness I look for.” – Iggy). Steve Mackay is also radiant (“Every time Steve Mackay put his sax to his lips and honked, he lightened my road and brightened my whole world” – Iggy Pop). The Stooges were all flickering candles who (as the song goes) burned out before their legends ever did.
Caraeff even captured the once mythological hot wax incident – Iggy in the act of covering his torso in hot wax from the club’s tables with a grimacing smile on his face, while a patron at a table nearby politely applauds.
Essays by Danny Fields, Dave Marsh, Jeff Gold and from the photographer himself are sprinkled amongst full-page photos, slides and contact sheets – in color and in black and white. There are some nice quotes authors Lester Bangs, Nick Kent, Paul Trynka, Robert Christgau, Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore and Iggy himself (“If I don’t terrorize, I’m not Pop.”). Also this one from a surprising source…
“See the Stooges, if you can, perhaps even buy their record, and bring a little bizarre freakery into your life.” – The New York Times 1970
Whisky booker Dee Dee Keel’s account states that there is no record of the Stooges playing at the Whisky in May 1970, and that this show could have been a showcase or a private event. This could explain why in one shot, Iggy is down on the floor in front of the stage and there is not an audience member in sight. Perhaps this was a showcase for an audience of terrified record industry people. Iggy stands on the floor with his stage behind him as everyone backs away in astonishment, and most likely too riveted to actually leave. That’s the precise place that a band needs to put an audience – especially one of record company executives – on the edge and afraid! Well, at least we have this book now, after almost fifty years – to prove that it wasn’t just an apparition!