One Track Mind: The Stooges’ James Williamson, “Open Up and Bleed” from Re-Licked (2014)

With the sad passing of the second Asheton brother, the question of whether the Stooges will go on looms large. Save for Iggy Pop himself, no member had been tenured as long — though guitarist James Williamson (who joined three years later in 1970 and helped shape 1973’s Raw Power, their most important recording) can certainly lay claim to a large measure of the Stooges’ legacy, as well.

Williamson, also part of the group’s most recent project in 2013’s Ready to Die, does just that on his forthcoming Re-Licked solo project — revisiting a series of rare and unheard Stooges songs from 1973-74 written with Pop, but unreleased since the group didn’t have a deal. Modern-era Stooges Mike Watt, Tony Dammit and Steve Mackay round out the band, while a series of guest vocalists fill in for the missing Pop — including blues belter Carolyn Wonderland, featured on “Open Up and Bleed.”

Her presence adds a hard-bitten survivor’s attitude to an original Stooges demo that always played against the proto-punk stereotype, with Pop modulating his bellowing wail into a narcotic menace. Forty years ago, this song sounded like a curtain dropping down on a needle-pricked night. Today, it marches to a different, tough-talking drum beat. This scalding “Open Up and Bleed” fights back now, and — be warned — it’s more than willing to hit below the belt.

Mackay, who worked with the Stooges as a sessions saxist in 1970, has been with the group fulltime since 2003, as has bassist Watt. Dammit took over on drums for an ailing Scott Asheton in 2011. Fellow featured vocalists on Re-Licked include Mark Lanegan, Jello Biafra and others.

Nick DeRiso

Over a 30-year career, Nick DeRiso has also explored music for USA Today, All About Jazz, Ultimate Classic Rock and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the nation by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Contact him at nderiso@somethingelsereviews.com.