Thursday, September 23, 2010

James Williamson with The Careless Hearts CD/DVD or LP/DVD

 (Easy Action) Before rejoining The Stooges in earnest, "Straight" James Williamson had to re-learn the old songs, and, well, just start playing the guitar again. It had been 35 years. Williamson had befriended San Jose's Careless Hearts before the tragic turn of events (Ron Asheton's demise, but you knew that) took place, but wielded something positive (James' re-enlistment. You knew that, too). The Careless Hearts acted as a practice band, until Williamson returned to The Stooges, and, to show his appreciation, he offered to play a club date with them, and brought Steve MacKay, "Funhouse" era and latter day Stooges Saxophone player, along for the ride to the pretty music. Burnin' to you straight from Hell, baby! Even after seeing the new, improved Stooges (I mean, they're improving their OWN thing all the time), which changed my relationship to everything I thought about Rock n’ Roll, I find listening to this set highly enjoyable. Doofus and Dillhole will be quick to say, "Yeah, but that singer's no Iggy.” No, he isn’t, he's a Paul. Paul Kimball, that is, and he more than rose to a very, very difficult task. Surely, it was the toughest job the whole band ever loved (barring Guitarist, Derek See, who's now James' guitar tech. Tuffer and luvin' it), but it's all on the singer, isn’t it? Kimball doesn’t do something foolish, like trying to sound like Iggy. He does the sensible thing, which is to sing the HELL out of those songs in his own way. Admittedly, I'm reminded, at times, of Radio Birdman's Rob Younger, but if that ain't good, grits ain't groceries, eggs ain't poultry, and The Mona Lisa was a motherfuckin' MAN. The band beefs up Williamson's already immolatin', motorvatin', no hesitatin' Guitar sound considerably on several faves from every aspect of The Stooges' career. James emerges, bending the strings and the pedals like he'd never stopped playing the stuff that he did and could have played the stuff he didn’t. All in all, a wondrous thing to behold, even if you weren’t actually there. I wasn’t there, but that's where the magic of video comes in. The day after the show happened, all or most of it was available for perusal on You Tube. The professionally shot, chock fulla closeups, great sounding, hard hitting document, natcherly, made me wish I had a DVD from the same source. Now, I have. Or, so, I thought. The accompanying DVD has good sound on it's side, anyway, but the CD already sounds good ("Very...very..Good.,” to paraphrase Mary Weiss. Speaking of whom, her beautiful daughters, in spirit and chutzpah, Angeline King and Hanna Rifkin from The Bang!, turn in some sexy and atmospheric backing vocals) and, as it turns out, this copy of the show was shot from the back of the club, or close to it, by a single camera, on a tripod, with no close-ups. I'm sorry, I wanted to love it, and maybe the owner of the better copy wouldn’t give them permission to use it, but it's hard to watch. I was three songs into it before I knew which one was James.  If your DVD player remote has a "Zoom" function, it's possible that you can blow it up and make the image more discernable. My remote has no "Zoom" (which I found out AFTER I bought the player), and some people may not care, either way. I liked the idea of presenting the album as a CD with a DVD as a gatefold digipack (these things are REAL common in Mexico. If the industry, here, had thought to do more appealing packaging jobs like this, maybe it wouldn’t be sinking. Have no fear, I hear younger people talking about "The vinyl" and "Vinyls" quite a bit, these days), but The Stooges are proof that presentation is only part of the package. If that package isn’t filled with beef, instead of baloney, I'm sorry, why bother?

No comments:

Post a Comment