Raw Power (Legacy Edition)

Iggy Pop And The Stooges

Legacy, 2010


REVIEW BY: Sean McCarthy


One of the first things that should hit a listener after hearing the opening chords of "Search & Destroy" (other than the visceral guitar work of James Williamson) is a vague sort of disbelief that Raw Power was actually a coveted release from a major studio. To be blunt, the album sounds like it came from the dankest sewers in Detroit. There's no doubt the album could be released today, just not on a major label.

But that's exactly what happened in 1973, when then young upstart space rocker David Bowie helped persuade his management company to sign Iggy Pop to a record deal. At this time, The Stooges had already disbanded after the implosion that was their previous album, Funhouse. But Iggy Pop was determined to reform his band, bringing on James Williamson for guitar and moving Ron Asheton to bass duty.

The album that emerged was a commercial bomb, peaking at only 182 on the Billboard album chart. For those accustomed to the studio bombast that was Led Zeppelin or even refined art rockers like The Velvet Underground, Raw Power assaults the listener like a street mugging. Almost five years before the emergence of punk, songs like "Your Pretty Face Is Going to Hell" and the title track were textbook punk songs long before the word was even linked to the genre. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Of course, Raw Power found its audience. One of the band's gigs was attended by Sex Pistols' John Lydon and Mick Jones of The Clash. The "ballads" on the album, "Gimmie Danger" and "I Need Somebody," are the furthest thing from romantic, as both sound like they were sung by a drug-addled stalker. In many circles, this was the first punk album.

If there is one criticism to be made of Raw Power, it stems from the way it was produced. The original mix, a collaboration between David Bowie and Iggy Pop, was a rushed affair. The treble-heavy initial mix put Williamson's guitars and Pop's vocals at the forefront at the expense of brothers Ron and Scott Asheton's bass and drums respectively. The solution? A 1997 remastered release by Pop, who admitted he was influenced by the sounds from bands in the '90s. That release had its own critics, who deemed the remastered version too polished.

The deluxe edition reverts back to the Bowie/Pop mix. In addition, a second disc features a brutal nine-song set at Richards in Atlanta, Georgia. The heavily-bootlegged set features the band openly taunting the audience, singling out certain audience members/hecklers. It's agitation rock at its best and most raw.

If Raw Power isn't in your collection, you owe it to yourself to shell out the money for the deluxe edition, if only for the bonus concert disc. For hardcore Stooges fans, there is a four-disc set available on the band's website. But for those that already own Raw Power (the non-1997 remastered edition), the deluxe edition is good, but falls short of an essential purchase. While there's something to be said about retaining the purity of the original remix, it would have been great to have Raw Power remastered by both Bowie and Pop as a collaborative effort with each person taking the time they lacked when they were pressed for a deadline. The original will always be the definitive statement, but after hearing the history, you can't help but think that another "definitive" remastered effort is out there not too far in the future.

Rating: B+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2010 Sean McCarthy and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Legacy, and is used for informational purposes only.