Sunday, August 16, 2015


 Rubber Legs- Original cover

Rubber Legs- Original gatefold

Rubber Legs- Original back cover

                                                     Original Rubber Legs vinyl labels


Defeated and hopelessly doped up, the Stooges barely dragged themselves to the end of 1973.  Their latest album Raw Power had been a colossal flop, and they found themselves dropped from MainMan Management.  Without support or care, and tearing themselves apart from the inside, the end seemed imminent. 

This is when Bomp! Records owner Greg Shaw stepped in.  Greg had been nosing around the Stooges ever since MainMan deposited them in Los Angeles in 1972.  Greg had run the “Stooges Hardcore” fan club and ‘zine, and had been socializing with Iggy and LA scenesters like Kim Fowley and Rodney Bingenheimer.   Shaw first approached James Williamson with the idea of trying to resuscitate the ailing Stooges via the promise of a new album. 

Williamson, disgusted with Iggy’s antics on tour told Shaw he thought it was a terrible idea.  Among James’ numerous (and practical) reasons, Bomp! barely even qualified as a regional independent label, and the meager advance money would have done little to mitigate the band’s mounting debts.  The Asheton brothers were even more curtly dismissive of the idea. 

Leave it to Iggy then, to perversely choose this moment to try and grab defeat from the jaws of disaster.  For it was at this moment (January 1974 to be exact), when it seemed certain that all was lost that, Iggy took the stacks of rehearsal and live Stooges tapes that been amassing, and locked himself up for one week in Wally Heider’s famous recording studio in LA., applying techniques of aggressive tape editing and incredibly raw mixing to the endless hours of stunning new Stooges compositions

What he emerged with from the studio then was far beyond the Stones recent ramshackle masterpiece, Exile On Main St, or even the circulating bootlegs of Bob Dylan’s Basement Tape, and closer in spirit to something between Alan Lomax’s field recordings and the then-barely known Faust Tapes.  What Iggy carved out was a brutally monochromatic, downright Sisyphean summation of the powers of attrition grinding down his once brilliant band, and indeed (as time would prove) his own psyche.

For after all but single handedly creating hardcore punk with their incredible I Got A Right EP in 1972, the Stooges now leap frogged over their own considerable influence and in nearly one fell swoop invented post-punk.  Not long after the release of this album, bands like Suicide, Teenage Jesus & The Jerks, The Fall, Flipper, and Public Image Ltd. started using Rubber Legs as the jumping off point into the reaches of sonic oblivion.

As opposed to the super tight performances and running times of the three previous Stooges album, Rubber Legs spills out everywhere, and then proceeds to deconstruct itself before your very ears.  Musical cues come and go, rigorous rehearsal gives way to freeform chaos, recurring lyrical themes float to the surface, then sink immediately.  If the first three Stooges album chart a path of, let’s get on the boat, we’re sailing away, uh-oh we’re sinking, Rubber Legs surveys the wreckage in the days after, with rescue workers looking for survivors.

Rubber Legs also works as a passionate counter-argument to overproduction and striving for some sort of perfection which shall never come.  In addition, by having this double album get released by Bomp!, Iggy all but invented the concept of indie rock as a protest against corporate conformity and the industry standard practice of keeping a band starving, so that they will do what you want them to do.

The album was briefly released to a handful of So. Cal records stores, before the costs of printing and distributing a double album simply became too prohibitive for Bomp.  Some bootlegs found their way to New York and London and became prized possessions amongst the cognoscenti of the rock underground. 

Compounding Bomp’s problems was an entirely uncalled for injunction from CBS records, because of the unlicensed use of their “Iggy and the Stooges” dripping monster movie logo design from Raw Power.  Things only got worse when a bootlegger in England got hold of the tapes and released an artlessly edited 6 song version of the album with hideous artwork, that because of its reach, started to become thought of the as the actual standard for what the band had wanted.  Other tracks started leaking out on various bootlegs throughout the 80’s (in various combinations, the band had at least another album’s worth of material floating around at this time), and before long the magnificence of the Stooges’ last stand was all but forgotten.

And what of the Stooges themselves?  After the album’s barely official release, James resented Iggy’s new assertion of leadership, the Ashetons were by now completely alienated from the band’s affairs, and they staggered their way through a few more gigs in early 1974 before breaking up.

And what of Rubber Legs?  Due to the rabid cult of that formed around the Stooges, the album was eventually lovingly restored to its original pulverizing glory, and is now available to all true lovers of rock n roll.  Along with the brilliant audio verite of the last Stooges show (Metallic KO), and Iggy’s first solo record Kill City (all released on Bomp in the mid-Seventies) some critics started realizing that Iggy had in fact created a mesmerizing trilogy that captured the true underbelly of late 20th century American society.  Lester Bangs even noted in an unpublished review of Neil Young’s Rust Never Sleeps that “people keep talking about this hippie’s ditch trilogy, but that’s all wind chimes and Earth shoes compared to the real grime and torture of what Iggy spat out a few years ago”. 

-      Greg “Elephant” Kot

Head On
C in My Pocket
Heavy Liquid

Open Up And Bleed
Rich B
Look So Sweet
Till the End of the Night

Rubber Legs
Pinpoint Eyes
Wet My Bed
The Ballad Of Hollis Brown

She Creatures of the Hollywood Hills
Born in a Trailer
Wild Love
I Got Nothing

UK version of Rubber Legs- unofficial cover

UK version of Rubber Legs- unofficial back cover

RUBBER LEGS- The unofficial UK sequence
Rubber Legs
Open Up And Bleed

Cock In My Pocket
Head On
Pinpoint Eyes 

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