photo: Anne Tek
Fans of The Stooges and Radio Birdman are in for a real treat this spring as guitarist James Williamson and singer/guitarist Deniz Tek have teamed up for a new spin on four classic Williamson compositions from the early/mid ’70s. The two proto-punk icons have unplugged their amps for drastic, yet no less gratifying reworkings of two numbers from Iggy & The Stooges’ seminal Raw Power album (“I Need Somebody” and “Penetration”) as well as two tracks from Pop & Williamson’s often-unsung masterpiece Kill City (“Night Theme” and “No Sense of Crime”). These songs were orginally composed by Pop & Williamson, with the exception of “Night Theme” which was penned by Williamson and Scott Thurston.
Rock & Roll Hall of Famer Williamson explains hooking up with Tek and working with him on this effort, “I first met Deniz in 2011 when doing the Ron Asheton Tribute show at the Michigan Theatre in Ann Arbor. Deniz had been a good friend of the Ashetons (having come from Ann Arbor like them) and had been asked to play on some of the old Stooges tunes that night.”
“Later we stayed in touch during the times I would visit Australia on tour with the Stooges, and it also turned out that he visited the Big Island of Hawaii frequently, as do my wife and I. In fact, during one of our get togethers on the Big Island Deniz mentioned that we should record some acoustic songs together. Maybe do some of my old stuff. It was later that day, hiking in a remote area, that we came across some abandoned trucks. His wife, Anne, got her camera out and said ‘there’s your record cover!’”
Oddly, in a parallel development, a long time fan and incredible collector of Stooges memorabilia, Hakan Beckman, had suggested to James a couple of years earlier that “Night Theme” should be orchestrated. Further, he had developed a fantasy album cover called Acoustic K.O. James loved these ideas and now, with Tek, had the vehicle to realize them.
“That’s how it all started,” Williamson admits. “However, once we began recording, the project took on a life of its own. If this was to be called Acoustic K.O. it needed to be entirely acoustic. Michael Urbano broke out his old 1920s drum kit and Gregg Foreman used my old 1930s pump organ and a piano. Guitars, of course, were acoustic, and the only exception was the bass that Bob Glaub played – an old hollow body Kay since an upright just didn’t sound right for these songs. The horn section rounded everything out.”
“For ‘Night Theme’ I enlisted the help of Mark Culbertson, musician extraordinaire who had played contra-bass for me on the albums Ready to Die and Re-Licked, to do the arrangement. He did an extraordinary job! I was able to find an incredible group of players called The Awesome Orchestra from Berkeley, CA under the direction ofDavid Moschler to realize Mark’s arrangement and I couldn’t be happier with the results.”
“It all came together once we layed down Deniz’s vocals while in Hawaii, and with the help of Petra Haden doing some backing vocals and violin, along with Annie Hardy (Giant Drag) doing the duet with Deniz on ‘No Sense Of Crime’ we had performances to be proud of.”
Deniz Tek and James Williamson’s Acoustic K.O. EP will be available March 31st on vinyl and digital (iTunes, Amazon, etc.) formats.