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Stooges Guitarist James Williamson Digs Up Old Songs For New Album

Columbia/Legacy Records

The life, death and rebirth of the Stooges stands as one of the more unlikely tales in rock and roll. Since reforming in 2003, the band have made two albums and toured regularly. When head Stooge Iggy Pop designated 2014 as time out for the band, guitarist James Williamson has decided to keep active during the downtime.

Williamson was only in the band for one album, 1973′s ‘Raw Power,’ but his guitar work pushed things forward during one of the most chaotic periods in the Stooges history. He basically went into hiding after they split up in 1974, but he re-joined the fold when original guitarist Ron Asheton passed away in 2009.

Now, Williamson has been digging through the band’s past for inspiration, finding several songs in their repertoire that never made it to the studio. Tracks like ‘Heavy Liquid,’ ‘Open Up And Bleed,’ ‘Head On,’ and ‘She Creatures Of Hollywood Hills‘ have appeared on countless bootlegs and dodgy releases over the years, including the infamous ‘Metallic K.O.,’ but were never recorded in the studio. “I felt these songs had greater potential than what was represented on bootlegs,” Williamson told Rolling Stone, “Recording them properly is something I’ve always wanted to do.”

Helping the guitarist on the album, titled ‘Re-Licked,’ are Stooges bassist Mike Watt and saxophonist Steve Mackay. Iggy, however, remains uninvolved, so Williamson is using a variety of other vocalists including ex-Dead Kennedys singer Jello Biafra, and Mark Lanegan of the Screaming Trees, among others. “I know not everyone can sing a Stooges song,” he adds, “but so far so good.” All of the songs date from 1973 and 1974, that post-’Raw Power’ period when the band was about to implode.

Work continues on the album, due out later in the year, but two songs from the sessions, ‘Open Up and Bleed’ and ‘Gimme Some Skin,’ will be issued as a limited edition vinyl single on Record Store Day this April. ‘Bleed’ features blues singer Carolyn Wonderland, a snippet of the song can be heard here.

As to Iggy’s non-appearance on the sessions, Williamson said, “After our last album, he wasn’t too excited about stepping into the studio. I understand.” In the meantime, a representative for Iggy Pop has issued the following statement. “Iggy was never given an opportunity to participate on the album. He found out about the project in December of 2013 after it was rejected by an Australian label.”

Next: 40 Years Ago -- Iggy & the Stooges Release ‘Raw Power’

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