Extended Play

by: The Stooges

So just how much tape rolled while the Stooges were in England cutting Raw Power? No one knows for sure, but it seems like every couple of years somebody digs up more outtakes and/or rehearsal tapes from James Williamson's tenure with the band, and sure enough the U.K. Easy Action label has issued this two-disc EP set featuring still more unreleased late-period Stooges stuff. This flyer for the label's upcoming Heavy Liquid box set, however, at least unearths some quality material for a change. The first disc offers up an alternate take of "Hard to Beat," a scratchy rehearsal tape of "Head On" (though it's a bit less grimy sounding than most of the Williamson archive material that circulates), and a new dub-wise mix of "I Got a Right." So far, nothing all that special, but it's the second disc where things get really interesting. Disc two features four songs remixed in 5.1 Surround format on DVD, and while many rock dogs will tell you 5.1 is just a new way to sell us the quad system we didn't want back in the 1970s, the audio quality of the material is pretty impressive, especially the two alternate takes of "I Got a Right" and a frantic tear through "Gimme Some Skin." For a change, these recordings appear to be first generation (or pretty close) and recorded in an actual studio, and if they don't top anything that actually appeared on Raw Power, they sound like they could have legitimately been in the running at one point. Not an essential item, but at least obsessives won't feel cheated buying Extended Play, which is a pleasant change. ~ Mark Deming

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