BY MICHAEL TOLAND
The story goes like this: once Rock Action died, Iggy Pop was allegedly no longer interested in making Stooges music. This left a bucketful of Iggy & the Stooges songs that, while heavily bootlegged since their demo and live debuts in the 70s, had never been properly recorded and released. Guitarist and co-composer James Williamson decided to take the tunes into the studio with a gang of guest singers and get the songs down before they were lost to the ether. Thus Re-Licked (recently released by Leopard Lady/Cobraside).
These “and friends” records tend to fall flat, if not completely on their faces – the importance of having a “name” artist often supersedes any musical merit. Not so here, fortunately. Williamson doesn’t mess with arrangements much – while not everything is heart-full-of-napalm Stoogerawk, there’s nothing here that would sound out of place in the mothership’s catalog. Plus Williamson chose his collaborators wisely.
Unsurprisingly, the BellRays’ Lisa Kekaula rocks “I Got a Right” and “Heavy Liquid” into the ground. Little Caesar singer Ron Young does the same for “Rubber Leg,” his soulful growl making this track sound like a fantasy team-up of Williamson and Scott Morgan. Primal Scream’s Bobby Gillespie raves through “Scene of the Crime,” the Kills’ Alison Mosshart croons through “‘Til the End of the Night” and Texas blues picker Carolyn Wonderland roars “Open Up and Bleed” and “Gimme Some Skin.” The blunt “Cock in my Pocket” gets a pair of recordings, one featuring Nicke Anderson of the Hellacopters/Imperial State Electric and the other starring Gary Floyd of the Dicks/Sister Double Happiness. Young guns represent as well, with the Icarus Line’s Joe Cardamone singing “Pin Point Eyes” and the Orwells’ Mario Cuomo doing the anthemic “I’m Sick of You.”
It goes without saying that the songs boast plenty of Williamson’s firebreathing guitar. Though his playing offers no real surprises, unless you count his delicate acoustic work on “‘Til the End of the Night,” he remains a riffmeister supreme. Given its origins in 40-year-old songs and all its moving parts, Re-Licked could have been a disaster. But instead it’s as ball-busting a rock & roll record as any to come down the pike in 2014.
DOWNLOAD: “I Got a Right,” “Gimme Some Skin,” “I’m Sick of You”