james williamson - The I-94 Bar

2020 Barfly Top Ten: Frank Meyer of the Streetwalkin' Cheetahs

eddie and frankFrank Meyer, guitarist and vocalist 
The Streetwalkin’ Cheetahs
James Williamson & The Pink Hearts
Online and TV producer
Stooges archivist
Los Angeles, CA

TOP TEN ALBUMS OF 2020

1. Armored Saint - Punching The Sky 
My favorite metal band of 2020 was my favorite metal band in 1984…the mighty Armored Saint. This is their best in a decade and one of the best of their career. John Bush is the Paul Rodgers of metal, a swaggering bluesy beast over vintage yet modern power metal. I fucking love this band.

2. Kix - Midnight Dynamite Re-Lit 
Producer Beau Hill went back and stripped away all that bad ‘80s reverb and my favorite Kix album it sounds the like AC/DC meets Aerosmith album it always should have. And the demos are way cool, junior!

3. Fiona Apple - Fetch the Bolt Cutters
The piano in the opening song “I Want You To Love Me” literally made me burst into tears when I first heard it. And every time since. Not kidding.

4. The City Kids - Things That Never Were 
Best OC Punk band Leeds ever produced! These guys got a Social Distortion by way of Backyard Babies vibe that just won’t quit.

2020 Barfly Top Ten: Gerry Ranson

gerry ranson 2020

GERRY RANSON
Vive Le Rock magazine writer and Mule Freedom PR publicist
London, UK

TOP TEN TRACKS FROM 2020

Like going deaf or blind, a lack of gigs seems to have sharpened my other music-loving senses, so I’ve been digging more sounds than ever this year. This is just the tip of a very big, and very loud, iceberg. Working as a PR, I’ve taken the flaming liberty of including some of my own wares in here – can you spot ‘em? But I make no excuses: I’m incredibly lucky and privileged to get to work with people whose stuff I love. I hope after reading this, you’ll love it too. - Gerry x

PS - The Celibate Rifles' "Extract From The Fungus" would’ve been No.1 if I’d heard it yet.

10.)  James Williamson & Deniz Tek –  "Jet Pack Nightmare"
They may be getting on – ain’t we all? – but Ann Arbor’s finest can still cut the Stories For Boys action rock! A venomous boogie riff to kick off "Two To One", the album that was bound to happen one day.

9.) Blue Öyster Cult – "The Alchemist"
It’s taken them nine years to come up with a new studio album and when they do, it’s recorded in lockdown conditions. And it’s still the best thing the boys from Stony Brook have done in donkeys’ years. Fourteen newly minted and totally Cultish songs, "The Symbol Remains" is conspicuously low on epics, but this six-minuter – with its "Flaming Telepaths" dink-dink-dink – hits the spot.

2020 Barfly Top Ten: Ron Brown from Dimboola

ron brown 2020RON BROWN
I-94 Bar correspondent from Dimboola in The Outback, Australia

Hello Barflies. It’s been a shitty year. No gigs in this year's Top Ten but the Farmhouse has still been rocking

10. The Stooges - "Live At Goose Lake"
After all the stories about Dave Alexander's bass playing at this gig being horrible and Iggy sacking him is now put to rest it. Better than they said.

9 .Deniz Tek & James Williamson  - "Two For One"
When two guitar greats join forces, one would expect it to be good. And it is.

8, The Casanovas - "Reptilian Overlord"
The Casanovas
have released another fabulous record full of big riffs.

7. Mick Medew -   "Psychopharmacologist"
The songs and vocals are brilliant, and also thanks for the Sunday streaming sessions with Miss Border Collie.

6. AC/DC - "Power Up"
They’re back with their best album in years - a true tribute to a lost brother.

5. Drop Kick Murphys – live stream
The DKM did a wonderful live stream from Finway Park , spectacular sound and songs.

A Tornado in the eye of a Stooges storm

biarritz

The Tale of Tornado Turner is a curious but intriguing piece of Stooges history. You’re about to hear the story. First-hand.

Flashback to 1973. An increasingly bored and three-quarters strung-out Iggy and the Stooges are holed-up in a rented mansion in the Hollywood Hills, captives of their management company Mainman. “Raw Power” is out. For reasons best known to themselves, Mainman is booking no tours to promote it.

One reluctantly-arranged show (Ford Auditorium, Detroit, March 27) produces an ultimatum following a clash at an after-party between Manman supremo Tony Defries and guitarist James Williamson. The edict is: It’s him or the band. Iggy sacks James. Enter a replacement, Warren Klein.

Behind The Shade – James Williamson and the Pink Hearts (Leopard Lady Records)

behind the shadePlenty of people won’t “get” this record. That’s the inherent risk when you move forward and don’t stay comfortably treading water in one swimming pool.

It’s the second solo album for James Williamson (third if you count the live one with The Careless Hearts) and “Behind The Shade” doesn’t kiss-off his substantial Iggy & The Stooges legacy. More pointedly, it reinforces that Williamson is no one-trick pony.

Of course you should know James for inventing one of the most brutal guitar styles ever. Iggy himself paid him a back-handed compliment by saying that his former collaborator filled every possible space in their band’s soundscape. He did say it was to the point of claustrophobia, or words to that effect.

Bob Short's Complete History of Rock and Roll Episode 15

You want more Bob Short? He's back with Episode 15 of The Complete History of Rock and Roll. It's entitled "More of the Same Old Same." What does that mean? You'll have to listen to find out. Tracklist after the MORE button. 

Ex-Stooge James Williamson's new album looms

jameswilliamsonpinkhearts

The debut album from ex-Iggy and the Stooges guitarist James Williamson and his new band, The Pink Hearts, comes out on June 22 and we’ll have a review live in about a week.

“Behind the Shade” by James Williamson and The Pink Hearts will be on Williamson’s own Leopard Lady Records and is a diverse but powerful effort, with Frank Meyer (Streetwalkin’ Cheetahs) and Petra Haden (That Dog) sharing lead vocals. 

Haden was one of the feature vocalists on Williamson’s album of previously unreleased studio versions of Stooges songs, “Re-Licked”. She also contributed violin to “The Departed” on the final Stooges album. “Ready To Die”. 

On “Behind The Shade”, Williamson supplies all of the riffs, guitar parts and most of the bass. The album also includes a host of accompanists.

They include Michael Urbano (Smash Mouth, Bourgeois Tagg, Todd Rundgren, John Hiatt) on percussion, Gregg Foreman, Hervé Salters, Paul Roessler, Nick Hart, and Audrey Vera on keyboards and piano, Jason Carmer on bass, Don Rooke on lap steel, Geoff Yeaton and Tony Peebles on saxophone and Steffen Kuehn on trumpet.

Click Read More for a video teaser and the tracklist.

Gimme Some Skin - Iggy Pop (Cleopatra Records)

gimme-some-skin-boxSeven 45s full of Iggy Pop and Iggy and the Stooges goodness. Packaged in a box with some incident extras (patch, big hole single adapter) thrown in. OK, you probably don’t need this box set from Los Angeles label Cleopatra Records but you may still want it. 

Having one more drink with Streetwalkin' Cheetah Frank Meyer

AP Murray cheetahsFrank Meyer flanked by Cheetahs bandmates (from left) Bruce Duff, MIke Sessa and Dino Evertett on bass. AP Murray photo. 

In these COVID-fraught times, asking Frank Meyer what he puts on his curriculum vitae is a valid question. The Streetwalkin’ Cheetahs vocalist-guitarist doesn’t skip a beat, down the line on Zoom from his home in Long Beach, California.

“Right now, I mean, I'm basically freelance film producing and directing. You know, my last full time job was at Fender as directing and producing their digital content. But at the beginning of COVID, they laid off a lot of my team, including myself. And then showbiz kind of shut down.

“But now I've essentially just been doing music and freelance editing and online production, and a lot of session work, singing and playing, recording and producing. In the last few months, digital production has picked up and I've been getting a bunch of field production gigs. And I've got some book deals happening. So things are looking good right now.”

Heavy Liquid LP - The Stooges (Easy Action)

heavy liquid lpThe question’s already been posed by a few people whether they really do need yet another compilation of Stooges material. It’s a rhetorical query so I’ll lay out the facts and allow you to judge for yourself.

Let’s kick off by saying that a lot of crap is released under the auspices of Record Store Day. What was once a marketing platform for the little guys, the ever-diminish number of independent bricks and mortar stores, has morphed into another channel for the big boys - they’d the the major labels - to peddle all manner of shit. 

There are outtakes and alternative versions ad infinitum buzzing about like flies on sherbet, but RSD more often than not seems to be about exploiting the fetishists’ love of anything on vinyl. "Heavy Liquid" is not amongst that crap.

James Williamson album tracklist revealed

The first look at the tracklist for the James Williamson album "Re-Licked" is public and it's a dizzying reflection on the backlog of Iggy & The Stooges material that's been bootlegged over the years.

There's also a track - an inciendiary version of "I'm Sick Of You" featuring Mario Cuomo from Chicago band The Orwells - being promo'd on the Net for your listening pleasure. 

 

In case you hadn't heard, Williamson is releasing the album of re-recorded but largely not properly released Stoogesongs on his own Leopard Lady label on October 29 with an array of guest vocalists.

Justice is served - 18 years later

Redline EPRedline EP – Sweet Justice (Eternal Music Group)

Hello Barflies! Well folks, The Farmhouse has been rocking these past few weeks. Los Angeles’ Sweet Justicehave released the follow-up to their debut album - and it's only taken 18 years.

Why so long? Well, these boys are always busy, what with their other band the fabulous Streetwalkin’ Cheetahs (among other projects) keeping these fine musicians very busy.

Sweet Justice is a three-piece band featuring Frank Meyer (guitar and vocals), Bruce Duff(bad ass bass) and Mike Sessa on the skins (replacing original drummer Chris Markwood.) What as pedigree these blokes have. having worked with James Williamson (Iggy & the Stooges), Eddie Spaghetti, Jeff Dahl, ADZand Wayne Kramer (MC5).  So you know this ain’t no garbage or garage band I’m talking about.

New book delivers a worthy roadkill dissection, one gig at a time

on stage bookIggy & The Stooges Onstage 1967-74 by Per Nilsen (Sonic Bond Publishing)

Cutting to the chase: This is an amazing book and an essential item for any Stoogephile. Swedish author Per Nilsenhas pedigree – he wrote the world’s first Iggy Pop biography, “The Wild One”, way back in 1988 – and he’s an academic, so you know it’s going to be researched to, er, within an inch of its pretty face going to hell.

The concept is simple: Nilsen divides the original lifespan of the Stooges into logical chunks, provides contextual information and then lists every show played, accompanied by as much information as is available. Yes, every show. He draws on a mix of primary sources and published interviews. He relies heavily on advertisements and reviews from local papers, underground press like The Fifth Estateand Natalie Schlossman’s fan magazine “Popped”. 

You can’t beat great research. Nilsen picks up inaccuracies published elsewhere and rules out advertised gigs that were never played. He even calls out a minor error in Paul Trynka’s definitive “Open Up and Bleed” book. I’m not sure the road crew accounts here of the alleged Goose Lake shutdown tally with the Third Man Records record of the same show, but they make fascinating reading.

The roll-call of first-hand accounts is impressive. Early manager Jimmy Silver is a big catch. James Williamson’sbad guy rap for poisoning the band is shown to be the ill-considered myth that it is, with tour manager John Adam (aka The Fellow) confirmed as the real catalyst for various members’ heroin habits.

The Decline Years of the Stooges, post-Mainman, hold a certain fascination for hardcore fans. Part of it is voyeurism – a peek into the on-the-road medicine cabinet and the approval-seeking, self-insulating excesses that it fuelled in a damaged singer – and the other part is wondering why the band kept going on its march of death.

Re-Licked - James Williamson (Leopard Lady)

Re-Licked CoverOkay.  Let's get one thing straight.  This album is great.  Here's your six bottles, James.  (Last time I tried to give you six bottles for something, the Barman turned me down but now we seem fine with that kind of thing).  Now, if the Barman would do a quick edit we could be three for three.  Six.  Six.  Six. Apt.



Of course there are elephants in the room.  Great hulking elephants and the occasional five foot one elephant.  I guess we'll just have to tackle them head on.  (Can I pun my way through this whole review? ) As a spoiler, I've read Robert's review because I know he'll have a different take to me.  I haven't read the Barman's because it is always funny how often we write the same review.  There could be some overlap.



Rock and Roll's Mr Everywhere

Spaghetti and Frank by Ed ColverEddie Spaghetti (left) of The Supersuckers thinks it's all a bit loud but Frank Meyer begs to differ. Ed Culver photo. 

Los Angeles musician, author and filmmaker Frank Meyer is a surprisingly talented singer songwriter and a highly skilled, captivating raconteur. He seems like a genuinely all around good guy, so I'm a little embarrassed I did not get that hip to his extensive discography much sooner.

I first became aware of both Frank Meyer and fellow feature article subject John 5 way back in the hazy distant past-maybe like, 23 years ago, in the pages of a glossy punk ‘n’ roll bible, “Pop Smear”, with both my boyhood idols, Evil Knievel and David Lee Roth on the cover. I was workin' at a news stand in the Midwest where long lines of unhappy barflies flooded in front of my cash register all day, incessantly wanting to buy the scratch off lotto tickets. "I'll take ten Lucky Pots Of Gold and five Leprechaun's Rainbows".

Frank seemed to have won the rock ‘n’ roll lotto when he got to hang out with John 5 and David Lee Roth, live, and in-person, on multiple occasions, and then, went on to write books and form his own bands that criss-crossed the country. He was playing bills with all the other bands I liked at the time and releasing a long and prolific stream of records I never really heard.

Strait James and The Iceman pair for new album of originals

Punk/proto-punk guitar heroes, James Williamson (Iggy & The Stooges) and Deniz Tek (Radio Birdman), have joined forces for a studio album. "Two To One" is released in September 18 by US label Cleopatra Recordsand "Stable" is the lead-off video track..

Williamson and Tek met at a memorial show for founding Stooges guitarist Ron Asheton in 2011 and reconnected when Williamson finally made it to Sydney with Iggy & The Stooges in 2013. They’ve since become neighbours in Hawaii. Although generationally separated,  they share roots in the fertile Ann Arbor/Detroit high energy rock scene of the late '60s and early ‘70s.

Taking your licks with James Williamson

JamesWilliamson5 HeatherHarrisThese bloody phone interviews. If you’ve never done one, this is how it goes: 

First, you notice unfamiliar terms in the email from the publicist like AEDT and CST that refer to time zones. And that excremental daylight saving kicked in two days ago. Cue frantic fiddling on the computer to make sure you’ve got the right time. 

You’ve been given a choice of times - if you’re lucky. Bit awkward if you get stuck with a time when you’re at work and you have to excuse yourself to go to the bog and do an interview. Trust me, you get looks. 

“Who were you cackling away to in the toilet, Robert? New … chum?”

Cue: furious blushing.

This interview was with James Williamson, the guitarist for Iggy and The Stooges, who has a new solo album, "Re-Licked" in the racks. And I got lucky on another front this time, and the nearly-threenager grandchild didn’t arrive until after I’d finished, so assorted boing noises, yowls and her squeaky voice didn’t float up into the recording. 

With most "phoners"you do have a strict 20 minutes to adhere to, a weird time (in this case it’s from 8.55am to 9.15 am). But you do worry that it’s 4.30 am where the interviewee is, and he’ll be off his head on Tequila and mushies. As rock stars do.

Just 20 minutes to gain rapport and probe the poor bugger’s most intimate self?  Poor bugger? He’s on the receiving end of a long line of assorted gits like me for several hours.

One minute before the appointed time, you dial a local number - with the area code prefix. A recorded message asks you to select your language. I am always very tempted to fuck with this but have so far refrained. One day I’ll select Croat or Bulgarian or Tig or something.

The late Robert Matheu's lens eye view of high-energy history

Stooges Grande AsthmaAttack 1969 MatheuA Stooges Asthma Attack at th Grande Ballroom in1968. Robert Matheu photo. 

time tunnel logoThe year 2006 was something of a watershed for fans of high-energy rock and roll of the Detroit variety. The reformed Stooges were in full flight and an historic six-CD, eponymous Sonic's Rendezous Band box set came out on UK label Easy Action.

The box set's executive producer of the box was ROBERT MATHEU, a Detroit-raised and former Creem magazine staff photographer. Sadly, Robert passed away in 2018, but a dozen years before, he told the back-story of the box set to the I-94 Bar - and of course regaled us with stories about the MC5 and the Stooges. 

We're revisiting many of the stories originally published on the I-94 Bar that were archived when we moved virtual location a few years ago. This is one of the trips back in The Time Tunnel. 

The Price Of The Ticket - Wendy James (self released)

wendy jamesConfession time. I love Wendy James. But not in the way you're probably thinking. The five bottles you see at the end of this review are well earned but some will not share my enthusiasm. Wendy’s blistering hysterical British syllables may well strike terror in the sensitive ears of some. Fuck ‘em.

You'll immediately remember Wendy from '80s pop punk band Transvision Vamp. She'd tell that girl to shut up. She wanted your love. But baby she didn't care. A fierce blonde strumpet in a short black dress. The pin up girl who launched rather more than a thousand lustful teenage fancies for those too young to have noticed Debbie Harry.

I-94 Bar