Friday, January 30, 2009

Iggy & the Stooges - Raw Power

After the failure of the first two Stooges albums, Iggy took off to England, signed with Main Man, discovered guitarist James Williamson and, upon receiving a new record contract with Columbia, sent for Ron & Scott Asheton to come over to join the band – demoting Ron to bass. But, apparently there weren’t too many options for ex-Stooges at the time in Detroit, so they went for it. The result is this crazed record, yet another template for the late 70’s punk bands.

Produced and mixed originally by David Bowie, the sound was universally denigrated at the time of the release and in the 90’s Iggy finally took it upon himself to rectify this and remixed the entire record, which made a monumental difference! Hidden parts reappeared, endings were kept and the entire sound was stupendously louder! This is truly one of the most dramatic re-mixes I have ever heard!

Immediately, you are pummeled by high-energy power-rock with the anthem “Search and Destroy”, which has to be one of the most covered songs of all time! Williamson’s guitar – while I always thought the tone coulda used a little tweaking – is surprisingly complex when you really listen. Yes, he has multiple overdubs, but he is doing a lot more than it initially sounds like. This is absolutely wild r’n’r! I love the extra “heys” that were taken out of the original album mix, too!

Sounding truly dangerous is “Gimme Danger” which is dominated by an acoustic guitar, but is in no way wimpy – this just gives it another dimension. Of course, electric guitars come in after the first verse to add another layer of sound. Iggy moves from croons to threats during the course of the song and sounds as if he is going to give as much as he receives.

Pure mania abounds in “Your Pretty Face is Going to Hell”, with Iggy’s voice as raw and ragged as you could imagine! James guitar(s) weave in and out throughout the entire song with a piercing edge and Scott & Ron keep a hi-energy pace behind it all. Sounding evily sexy with an addition of keyboards, “Penetration” has a number of background vocals and effects that were not heard on the first release. This is slower and not as nutz but still intense.

Side two opens with the other album anthem and title, “Raw Power”. Cool, pounding piano help to propel this one, which seems to be describing the Stooges’ sound. This has been imitated and ripped off innumerable times and it is still the best! If you don’t “feel it” as Iggy demands at the end then you have no rock’n’roll soul!

Similar to “Gimme Danger” in feel is “I Need Somebody”, with an amazing, winding acoustic/electric guitar line and hypnotic rhythm. Pop’s singing has a menacing edge that makes you wonder what he needs you for! He shouts out the countdown for “Shake Appeal” and if this doesn’t get ya shakin’, nothing will! Another cool, movin’ guitar lick sets the groove and the solo practically explodes out of the speakers as Iggy eggs James on!

A downright disturbing ending is the noise-ridden “Death Trip” that lets Williamson create clamorous walls of sound as Pop shouts, shrieks and demands to be “let loose on you!” James really sounds as if he is about to teeter off the edge on this one as Iggy rants on and cajoles someone with “I’ll strip you, you strip me, honey we’ll go down in history!”

This was the most well known of the Stooges albums, most likely due to the Bowie connection, so I’m sure that most anyone reading this owns this, but if you don’t have the re-mix, be sure to get it! The remastering makes this one of the loudest CDs of all time!