Iggy and the Stooges’ Raw Power: 40 Years Old Today

raw-power-Iggy and the stooges

Compare Bowie’s Mix of Iggy and the StoogesRaw Power with Iggy Pop‘s own mix…

Today marks the 40th anniversary of the release of one of Rock’s greatest albums: Parcel of Rogues by Steeleye Span. Just kidding. It’s the 40th anniversary of the release of Iggy and The Stooges‘ Raw Power.

Back in 1973, you could be forgiven for thinking rock was turning wetter than one of Belle and Sebastien‘s bathing costumes. Exhibit A: The top selling song of the year was Tie A Yellow Ribbon Round The Ole Oak Tree by Tony Orlando and Dawn.

However, on a more positive note in the UK, David Bowie was getting into his stride with Ziggy Stardust (’72) and then Aladdin Sane (’73).

NME writer Nick Kent described when, in 1972 he met Iggy Pop in Maida Vale and asked him how he thought The Stooges next album might sound: “Iggy pondered the question for a moment while dangling a wine glass he was sipping from rather daintily from his left hand. Then he drove the glass down hard onto a little table directly in front of him, noisily shattering its base. “Something like that” he then replied evenly”.

Recorded in 1972 the record was subsequently mixed in just one day (according to the liner notes in the re-issue) by David Bowie who had been given an almost impossible task of trying to make something out of the tape. Picture how Jedward’s producer must feel every day of his working life and you’ll have a good idea as to how Bowie felt that day. Raw Power had been recorded on just three tracks with guitar on one, vocals on another and everything else on the third track, so there was little separation of the individual instruments. Bowie’s (uncredited) mix, in hindsight made a virtue of the, well, raw power of Iggy and The Stooges. Iggy himself remixed it in the nineties. It is interesting to compare the differences in the mixes, which thanks to Spotify we can easily do here:

Bowie Mix:

Iggy Pop Mix:

David Bowie, though hardly unbiased, still knew which mix he preferred when he wrote in his collaboration with Mick Rock, Moonage Daydream: “The Raw Power mix (is) the version I still prefer over the later remix – it has more wound up ferocity and chaos and, in my humble opinion, is a hallmark roots sound for what was later to become punk”.

Raw Power is an angry record, not least on Your Pretty Face Is Going To Hell, about a girl called Joanna who Iggy had become infatuated with, but who had treated him badly. His answer? She was going to get older and lose her looks…so there!

The band spent almost the whole of 1972 in London where they recorded the album but played just one gig – at Kings Cross Cinema (now The Scala). It was according to Nick Kent, a “breathtaking” performance. In the crowd that night? A young John Lydon, who was no doubt taking notes for his future role as Jonny Rotten of The Sex Pistols…

Iggy’s performances were legendary, and Nick Kent gave an insight into why Iggy Pop was such a compelling performer: “Iggy always felt compelled to drop two acid tabs before each gig about ten minutes before he’d actually hit the stage”. This explains the intensity of Iggy’s performances and perhaps also why they were always so short (” after forty minutes he’d start hallucinating so intensely he’d become completely incapacitated.”) Don’t do this at home, folks…

Lester Bangs described the Stooges last show (before they were reunited) in 1974. He had been to the gig immediately preceding it at a little club in Michigan. “The audience, which consisted largely of bikers, was unusually hostile, and Iggy, as usual, fed on that hostility” he said. Iggy singled out one heckler who had been particularly abusive and jumped off stage towards him, only for the heckler to beat Iggy up.

Lester Bangs continues the story: “The next day, the bike gang, who call themselves the Scorpions, will phone WABX-FM and promise to kill Iggy and the Stooges if they play the Michigan Palace on Thursday night. They do (play, that is), and nobody gets killed but (bootleg of the show) Metallic KO is the only rock album I know where you can actually hear hurled beer bottles breaking against guitar strings.”

Iggy Pop at Hyde Park

Iggy Pop at Hyde Park

Iggy’s live performances are no longer fuelled by enough drugs to down a frisky rhino and his popularity has only risen since 1996’s Trainspotting soundtrack brought his music to the attention of the mainstream. The intensity remains, however. He was quite brilliant the two times I have seen him – at last year’s Hard Rock Calling Hyde Park gig and the previous year’s Isle of Wight Festival during which he bullied Kate Moss’s hen party (including a small baby) and Dave Grohl to join him for a dance onstage.

Whichever mix you prefer, make sure you play Raw Power today. It sold poorly when first released, but has since been acknowledged as one of Rock’s Greatest albums. It might be 40 years old, but (like Iggy) it’s not betraying an ounce of middle-aged spread…

Record #150: Iggy and The Stooges – Raw Power

The Stooges are releasing a new album later this year called Ready To Die

Sources:



Categories: Rock Music

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9 replies

  1. A true gem indeed, like al of the Stooges’ albums from that era, and I still regularly play it. Will surely give it another spin tonight.

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    • hmmm… i got MP3s of Raw Power from a torrent before i went Spotify (and before my wife expressed a moral issue with me downloading from torrents…), so the volume is way up from the Spotify versions. as such, i prefer my Iggy mixes to Spotify’s Bowie mixes, simply because they’re LOUDER. this lends chaos, wildness, and wanton destruction to the music. the Bowie mixes sound tame, even castrated. maybe it’s just that my MP3s are doctored by a dodgy, black market source, but doesn’t “dodgy” seem to fit with the spirit of the Stooges? 😀

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    • There is something special about those first three albums isn’t there?

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  2. Great write-up, even though I much prefer the first two Stooges albums over this one. I’ve never been much of a punk guy, so Raw Power has always been an album I can enjoy on an intellectual level for its significance rather than for the music itself. Of the two mixes, I prefer Bowie’s version.

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  3. When I first purchased “Raw Power” in December 1975, Ig’s albums couldn’t be given away.
    If they were available, it was usually through specialist records for a lot of money.

    It has been often forgotten that The Stooges were universally detested by the majority
    of rock fans who too busy raving about the dismal likes of Queen, Fleetwood Mac, Pink
    Floyd, Eagles, ELP etc. Mercifully The Sex Pistols’ cover of “No Fun” gave exposure
    to the trio of magnificent albums which hasn’t been touched in over four decades.

    “Metallic K.O” also enhanced the legend of The Stooges, so when Ig went out to tour with
    Bowie in 1977, it was The Second Coming for a new generation of listeners.

    Does it really matter whether people prefer Ig or Bowie’s mix ? Both have their merits.
    Either way, it is THE most influential album of the last forty years.

    Ig and the Stooges have had the last laugh. As he predicted back in 1972 with the
    demented “Death Trip”, “Honey/We’re goin’ down in history.”

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  4. Iggy’s mix isn’t really a mix at all. He just turned everything up full and into the red. It is one of the worst things I have ever heard with an insane amount of distortion on everything.
    Bowie’s mix is a thing of sublime beauty and power.
    Who cares if Iggy’s mix is louder, use the volume control!

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