50TH ANNIVERSARY DELUXE EDITION
By Madeline Bocaro
© Madeline Bocaro, 2019. No part of this site may be reproduced in whole or in part in any manner without permission of the copyright owner.
There was a treat in my drop-box today from a friend. The 2019 remasters of The Stooges debut album (with the John Cale mixes) and Bowie’s Space Oddity 50th anniversary remaster. It’s quite interesting to see the diversity of these artists whom would soon cross paths and collaborate, creating another infamous debacle about mixing and production of a Stooges album (Raw Power) which is still endlessly debated today!
After a few minutes trying to absorb 5 discs of Bowie’s laid-back hippie stuff, I couldn’t wait to delve into The Stooges. I went straight to ‘I Wanna Be Your Dog’ and was blown back from the speakers just like the guy in that Maxell tape commercial. (Coincidentally, he is Jac Colelo – the guy who did Bowie’s hair on the Diamond Dogs tour).
Now THIS mix of ‘I Wanna be Your Dog’ is cool! I would like to extend a warm ‘Welcome back!’ to Dave Alexander’s bass! We can actually hear it now!
I immediately put on Cale’s mix of ‘Dog’ for comparison. What a mess! What’s with the fizzling guitar fade outs and fade ins? He has completely removed the rumbling drums and bass from the beginning! Isn’t a producer supposed to MIX the tracks and not OMIT them? The stunning intro to the most groundbreaking record of the 60s is RUINED! The sleigh bells are completely overwhelming! They’re driving me nuts! I keep thinking I’m in a one-horse open sleigh going over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house. It’s like some sort of evil Christmas Carol!!! A virtual lump of coal!
Before everyone gets crazy, I’ll preface this with the fact that I will always prefer the Stooges albums the way I first heard them and fell in love with them. Whether it was on increasingly scratchy vinyl from millions of plays, or on a cassette tape in my car, THAT is the purest sound that will ever exist in my mind. However, I’m enjoying these different takes.
This mix is for those who prefer The Stooges sounding more like The Doors – and in the case of the Cale mixes – you guessed it – like The Velvet Underground.
I’ll take my old album above any of this stuff – and fiddle with my own equalizer.
There is nothing like MY mix!
Jeff Gold, author of the Stooges book Total Chaos (2016) was amazed to hear Iggy’s side of the production story.
“In fact, what happened was, Iggy didn’t really know what he was doing, but kept hearing these songs and thinking, “Boy, I don’t know. Maybe I need to smoke another joint to get this.” And Jac Holzman calls him in and plays him the album and says, “Are you happy with this?” and Iggy says, “No.” And Jac Holzman takes him through fixing it and completely in Iggy’s mind improves it dramatically with Iggy’s enthusiastic assent, and that’s again just completely not the way it’s written about.”
– Jeff Gold to Emily McBride, Noisey / vice.com
The hand-claps on ‘No Fun’ are dull on the remaster. Now I’m even more afraid to see what Cale has done… Oh geez – this is ridiculous. The claps are louder than the drums! It sounds like Scotty is playing at your next-door neighbor’s house and all the windows are closed. A helicopter just went by my window and it actually drowned out the song. That would NOT happen with the original mix. Oh man, no wonder they rejected this Cale mix and thank heaven they did! When you immediately play the other mix, it’s like a giant hissing snake has been silenced and clarity is restored.
(I am not qualified highly enough to comment on ‘We Will Fall’ – haha!)
‘Ann’ is the least offensive of the Cale mixes. I actually like it. It’s noisier. Not that I’ll listen to it above the other, which has the guitars sounding like live electrical wires crackling and sizzling. Iggy’s vocal is gorgeous – one of his deepest at the time.
I’m going back and forth now. ‘1969’ new mix – very cool. Lots of buzz, separation – everything is super clear. Back to Cale. It sounds very flat. No dimension – the buzz is buried. For ‘Not Right’ I started with the Cale mix. It’s confusing. I’ve heard this song thousands of times but this is NOT RIGHT! Back to the remaster – blown back by the Stooges forcefield again! Now we’re talking! The clarity is back and the guitars are roaring! The guitars sound like animals fighting, as they should.
Next we have ‘Little Doll’ (which is essentially the same in phrasing and in melody as ‘1969’ yet somehow sounds like an entirely different song). All the fuzz and vibration is omitted in Cale’s mix. I can just picture him sitting there in his Dracula cape grinning fiendishly as he he manically cackles and twiddles the knobs. He does achieve a gritty vibe, but it’s at the expense of the SOUND! And it’s slower – like an octave lower! Well not really an octave, but it might as well be. It would have been interesting to hear how Bowie would have mixed this album.
The full version of ‘No Fun’ is always fun – this one is a bit slower. ‘Asthma Attack’ is so realistic that it’s suffocating. The jazzy drums and bass backing Iggy’s screams are incredible.
‘Dog’ alternate vocal is not as stunning as the album track. ‘Dog’ single version is not nearly as powerful. It’s too trebly and those sleigh bells permeate everything again – enough to annoy Santa Claus! The additional 5 takes of ‘Little Doll’ are not monumental. Iggy only sings on the last one. The other alternate vocals are interesting (‘1969’ ‘Real Cool Time’ – Cale praises the ‘great bass line’ – and ‘Not Right’) but Iggy pretty much sticks to the script. There’s also a nice, quieter ‘full version’ of ‘Ann’.
Well there you have it – my humble opinion!
Now on vinyl:
Also see my story about the ACTUAL album on its 50th Anniversary:
IT’S 1969 OK!
My review: Bowie vs. Iggy’s mix – RAW POWER TO ROAR POWER
MY FUN HOUSE 50TH ANNIVERSARY STORY:
© Madeline Bocaro 2019. No part of the materials available through madelinex.com may be copied, photocopied, reproduced, translated or reduced to any electronic medium or machine-readable form, in whole or in part, without the prior written consent of Madeline Bocaro. Any other reproduction in any form without the permission of Madeline Bocaro is prohibited. All materials contained on this site are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without prior written permission of Madeline Bocaro.
6 thoughts on “THE STOOGES REMASTERED – AGAIN!!! 2019”
The fact that you can drop in facts like the name of the guy in the JVC ad, AND add that he did Bowie’s hair on the Diamond Dogs tour marks this blog out as the classiest in town. I bend my knee to thee, highly impressive. So cool and stylish as well. And eloquent – and I respect your opinions doubly because they so closely augur with my own! Ha ha. I haven’t heard this 50 years anniversary release, but I did get the previous one, which was a debacle, with Rhino mispressing one disc, then offering a replacement which replicated the error. There was a big stink because they had mastered the tapes at the wrong speed. The John Cale mixes – in most cases I can’t believe they were seriously considered for release, The opening of I Wanna Be Your Dog, fading out the big chord and feedback – it just sounds terrible, and neuters – nay, cripples – one of the most striking, dramatic opening hooks in the history of popular music. The ‘alternate vocals’ – there have been some efforts to persuade us that Iggy was encouraged to sing in a vacant style, but they are such lifeless performances I insist to this very moment that they must be scratch vocals. Good to hear and own the full length versions of No Fun, Ann and Asthma Attack – I’m with you though, the way you heard ’em in the first place remains the definitive version.
Just re-read this excellent review. I especially concur with your assertation that Your Mix is the definitive mix! Just been thinking about the ’69, A Real Cool Time, recording sessions. I wonder how long they had in the studio to cut the album. It’s audible on Fun House that they had become more comfortable in a recording studio. I wonder if Cale had a ‘bosh-it-down-quick’ approach, and the boys might’ve benefitted from something more like the Gallucci sessions, roughly a song a day, building up through multiple takes, close to a Live session. Obviously I love this record and it is one of the foundation stones of my existence, I’m just reflecting rather than criticising. I’ll tell you why, apologies if I’m repeating myself: an Urban Legend of sorts persisted for years that the released Lp was severley truncated, and the Elektra vaults contained eight-minute rave-up editions of the songs, Iggy himself describing the released version as a ‘polite’ mix. The deluxe whatnots come out and we could hear this was a half truth. It really bugs me when Cale says over the talkback, ‘Can we fade it after three minutes?’ about one of the songs. It says a lot to me. Just let ’em play! Somebody obviously thought ‘get a hit single out of these guys’. I mean, selling records IS the objective, but they ain’t the 1910 Fruitgum Co … There again, Danny Fields had his 16 magazine instincts, ‘branding’ Ig as Iggy Stooge … hard-selling the teen market, again, the ‘raunchy Davy Jones’ idea from Elektra! We Will Fall could be seen as a major rebellion against being marketed as product to a teen or subteen demographic. Shove that in yer ass, Mr Marketeer.
Funny how Cale becomes the watchdog of commercialism in the Stooges case, when he was so far out in the Velvets!