In celebration of the 50th anniversary of The Stooges’ seminal punk powerhouse, Fun House, Modern Harmonic brings you The Ridiculous Trio Plays The Stooges available on LP, CD and at all digital service providers on July 17.
A strange child of punk and jazz, The Ridiculous Trio propels instrumental versions of Stooges favorites with drums, trombone and tuba on The Ridiculous Trio Plays The Stooges. A reimagination of the thrashing punkadelic music created by The Stooges – the band fronted by the indomitable Iggy Pop and abetted by brothers Ron and Scott Asheton on guitar and drums, bassist Dave Alexander, with contributions from sax player Steve Mackay and guitarist James Williamson – The Ridiculous Trio takes The Stooges’ urgent sonic blueprint and morphs it into a palpitating brass menagerie of trombone (Mike Hagedorn), tuba (Rob Pleshar) and drums (Shannon Morrow).
The bulk of the music is culled from The Stooges (1969) and Fun House (1970), along with a Raw Power outtake and a 47 second version of the oft-bootlegged demo “She Creatures Of The Hollywood Hills.” As humorous as the premise sounds, a listen will reveal how much of the nascent ferocity of The Stooges is boldly in evidence herein. The thrashing cymbals and bashing drums, locked in step with the repetitive tuba riffs, reinforce the otherworldly trombone writhing and sliding and bending (just like Iggy onstage), sounding somewhere between a disheveled wah-wah guitar or a kazoo.
There’s an incredible amount of punk rock energy resounding throughout these tracks. The “No Fun” tuba and handclap intro kicks into your head before the trombone melody slices and dices your brain before slithering down your spine. “Down On The Street” is a mammoth dance party track with a killer trombone solo, its brass slide bashing your solar plexus. “I Wanna Be Your Dog” finds the trio howling and growling in the dog pound, flailing about while cuffed to a chain link fence.
“We Will Fall,” the most eccentric track in the Stooges songbook, was obviously under the influence of producer John Cale, who contributed a droning Indian tanpura and sawing viola to the tantric psych-trance excursion. Here, The Ridiculous Trio is transmogrified into a Hindustani brass band, high as a kite from one bhang lassi too many. The recording is a combination of three sessions: the drone, and two different improvisation approaches – Mike recalls “When we played the drone we circled a lone candle in a dark room.”
As Mike Hagedorn explained, “With Iggy’s tenor voice and my instrument being in the tenor range, I knew our timbres would match. Iggy approached his voice with a lot of patience and space, but used a full, aggressive sound that had plenty of nuance, and that’s what I wanted to replicate in the trio….Sometimes I’d go between playing the lead guitar part to the vocal, switching back and forth as needed.”
In the 2000s, The Ridiculous Trio were adventurers in Chicago’s Free Jazz scene (where decades earlier outsider stalwarts Sun Ra, Roscoe Mitchell, and The Art Ensemble Of Chicago ran free) as well as being aligned with hometown indie rock champions Cheer-Accident (who coincidentally had a couple of records produced by Steve Albini, who also recorded The Stooges’ “comeback album” The Weirdness in 2007).
Wrapping up this treasure is a hand painted reinterpretation of The Stooges Fun House cover that incorporates the “Ridiculous” instruments.
The Ridiculous Trio Plays The Stooges Tracklisting:
- No Fun
- Down On The Street
- T.V. Eye
- Scene Of The Crime / Death Trip
- She Creatures Of The Hollywood Hills
- I Wanna Be Your Dog
- Not Right
- We Will Fall