Iggy And The Stooges—
I'm Sick Of You EP

Released 1977 on Bomp
The Seth Man, February 2009ce
“I miss not seeing it reach its full potential. But then again...maybe it did.”
- Ron Asheton on The Stooges, 1986.

With this philosophical epitaph issued, Asheton raises a longneck beer to his mouth neither in tribute or resignation. For him, it was as natural as when moments before he tore through a variety of riffs and solos for the same Dutch documentary crew like he was still onstage at the Grande Ballroom. But never could he have guessed at that moment in his mother’s basement in Ann Arbor that he was only approaching the midpoint in time located between the 1974 dissolution of The Stooges and their reformation in the early twenty first century. In light of that and his recent untimely death, his apt quotation above is witty, poignant and (to my mind’s eye, anyway) the irrevocable truth. Which is why when I watched that particular segment recently, I raised a glass back to Asheton between the worlds in salute of his talent and spirit as one of the best ever guitarists in Rock to, in his own words, “let one go.” Although Asheton only (only? Ha -- as if) played bass on this here single, like everything he played on (bass or guitar) his arsenal of simple riffs of the most upending power continuously rip through my head and my existence at top volume. And often.

The Stooges were five years ahead of their time. The proof came in recordings from 1972 that surfaced in 1977 on two singles by two separate, independent labels. Siamese Records unleashed the ferocious “I Got A Right”/“Gimme Some Skin” 45 while the legendary Bomp label upped the ante with the 3-song EP, “I’m Sick Of You” backed with “Tight Pants” and “Scene Of The Crime.” All five tracks were outtakes from their legendary “Raw Power” LP but the production values were so wildly dissimilar from that oozing behemoth that at the time I remained split as to whether the Bomp single was indeed The Stooges or instead some highly-spirited issuances off Bomp’s own “Kill City” album of the same year. (Production credits went to James Williamson on “I’m Sick of You”, as well as “I Got A Right”/“Gimme Some Skin” making one pause at the thought of how different “Raw Power” would’ve sounded were “Strait” James and not Iggy or Bowie slumped over the mixing desk.)

Although “Kill City” was credited to ‘Iggy Pop/James Williamson’ on the sleeve, another Bomp EP entitled “Jesus Loves The Stooges” was issued in its wake with its sleeve of some rotting animal carcass with just the title in rendered in all capital Gothic type. Between the title and lack of band info on the front, I assumed it was The Stooges. Only what it contained were three outtakes from “Kill City” and it coloured my impression of “I’m Sick Of You” when I first plonked it down despite the sleeve credit of ‘Iggy And The Stooges.’ After briefly trudging through the slow intro, I sensed the whole thing was gonna be nothing but ballad so I quickly whisked it off and filed it away. For several years I wrongly assumed it was just another set of “Kill City” refugees and it wasn’t until the 45 of “I Got A Right” blasted in my face for the first time that I had a major re-think and discovered “I’m Sick Of You” truly was an outtake from “Raw Power” and not “Kill City.” OK, that’s one case closed.

And another one opened, as though wading through all those variety of independent label releases of Stooges material was hard enough. There would always be at least one record more you’d never seen before. Keeping on the trail of it all with no information was as rough going as a traverse of the Khyber Pass on your ass but then things got even hairier when the French Revenge label started issuing a blizzard of EPs, albums, singles and even a box set at a rate of what seemed to be about two a month for years. It wasn’t really, but it sure felt like it. So I staunched the wound of my bleeding Stooges-obsessed head with the double “Studio Rehearsals 73-74” LP because on it were so many of the songs that had previously existed in my mind only as legendary titles like “Wet My Bed,” “Rubber Legs” and “I Got Nothing” and it seemed the one source that had almost every studio outtake that were otherwise landing singly on EP B-sides whose A-side was something I already had purchased months ago.

Then out of nowhere, the first double reissue of “Metallic K.O.” as “Metallic K.O. x 2” came out and it all started to make no sense. This was crazy: I could spend the rest of my life re-buying the same tracks over and over again, wind up with five versions of “Joanna” and STILL not have enough money left over for “She-Creatures Of The Hollywood Hills.” Fuck this, I’m sticking with the Elektra albums, “Raw Power,” and “Metallic K.O.” and “Kill City” will just hafta wait until the end of the month. Again.

Luckily, at this point in time the best book on The Stooges info-wise landed with a quiet but authoritative thud in my path. It was “The Wild One: The True Story Of Iggy Pop” by Per Nilsen & Dorothy Sherman and it listed everything: the pipeline of Revenge issues, bootlegs, original singles and every known audio extant. This was (and is) an amazing repository of information on The Stooges (Iggy’s “I Need More” was and still is an essential read, but its discography listed only the 12 major label albums plus “Metallic K.O.” and “Kill City.”) “The Wild One” also had the first non-album shots I had ever seen of James Williamson and I freaked over his ability to not look like the same guy in any two photos. The guy was a chameleon without trying, his musical CV was a handful of albums plus a coupla singles -- all Stooges-based -- AND he played guitar like THAT?!! He’s from a planet where they drink methane in liquid form once a year as complete nutritional sustenance for the next ten, sleep isn’t necessary and Helen Reddy is recognised as a supreme musical deity. And this was just the latecomer to the party -- all the members looked to a man complete Rock drug punks and served as visual evidence to what I had been hearing all along.

Nilsen & Sherman also cleared up any confusion regarding “I Got A Right,” “Gimme Some Skin,” “I’m Sick Of You,” “Tight Pants,” and “Scene Of the Crime.” They were all “Raw Power” outtakes recorded in London in the summer of 1972 (as were a pair of still-unreleased and heinously-named “Fresh Rag” and “Nigger Man.”)

The B-side sports “Tight Pants” (the first take of the musical nunchaku attack which would rage on and on until it mutated into “Shake Appeal” on “Raw Power”) along with “Scene Of The Crime.” The first is too short with a fade mid-solo at two minutes, the second is too long with piano at three but it doesn’t matter because it’s “I’m Sick Of You” that really spills its juice. All over the A-side and sprays up on your dust cover’s interior a blotchy Rorschach pattern. Williamson turns in an absolutely screaming 50-second guitar solo to structurally damage the tubes in his AC-30 amp and your mind; Ron Asheton keeps his quick, focussed bass runs as tightly regimented as shock troops of the Stoogestaffel while brother Scott keeps the beat suffocating AS USUAL under his permanently hermetically-nailed down tarpaulin. And Iggy rails on and on against his woman, her parents and her pad because he’s “sick of yeeeww...”

Even though clocking in at 6:45, “I’m Sick Of You” doesn’t cover that much thematic ground as much as providing the same set of lyrics under two extremely different musical accompaniments. Iggy winds up repeating the same verse of the phlegmatic introduction during the sweeping trauma that ensues: Namely, by bellowing as rough and ready as the musicians’ gate-crashing, riffjacking and ransacking all at once of The Yardbirds’ “Happenings Ten Years Time Ago” already in progress. Of special note is how Ron’s tightly played saw-toothed bass runs echo Williamson’s rhythm guitar -- even after Williamson splits off for the insane, expunging guitar solo mentioned above, where it continues without blinking as perfect counterpoint with wrist-cramping repetition. At the entry of Williamson’s solo, a tiny but terrorising feedback squeak erupts as though perfectly timed within its small window of silent opportunity and the rest is a crazy, careening series of accordioned riffs that wind up cordoning off so many corners there’s nowhere left to stand. As a guitarist, Ron Asheton easily locks in with Williamson as Rock steady Rock Action keeps on driving the big beat up. They all take it down to a cooled, angry plateau and then a final reprise of the opening theme of Williamson’s twilight, phlanged narcolepsy. It falls away to errant strums, a final pump on the Fender bass from Ron and a sizzling echo effect shudders everything away.

Reach their full potential? I think maybe they did.

-Dedicated to the memory of Ronald Frank Asheton.