Tuesday, February 12, 2013

125 Raw Power. Undercooked



Album: Raw Power
Artist: The Stooges
Genre: Punk
Year: 1973

Tracks


1. Search and Destroy
2. Gimme Danger
3. Your Pretty Face Is Going to Hell
4. Penetration
5. Raw Power
6. I Need Somebody
7. Shake Appeal
8. Death Trip


Raw Power is so chaotic you can imagine it's the sound of a band breaking up which is ironic because it's actually the sound of a band reuniting. By the time they came to record it The Stooges had already broken up but somehow a solo album by lead singer Iggy Pop became a reunion of sorts and the third Stooges release.

It's far from a perfect album. The problem isn't with the songs which are great or the performances which are enthusiastic and hell-for-leather it's the terrible production which hold raw power back for some but is part of its charm for others.

Raw Power was recorded and produced by Iggy himself who was hopelessly addicted to heroin at the time. You could examine rock history in its entirely and put forward a good argument to suggest heroin doesn't affect someone's ability to sing and it's even possible to play the guitar well when strung out on H but there's no doubt record production is best done by the most sober person in the room. Drugs and dials just don't mix.

Apparently the original mix of Raw Power is almost unlistenable with everything except Iggy's voice smooshed into one channel. The final effect sounds something like Iggy Pop singing thirty metres away from a small box containing the rest of the band. The record label decided the album needed a saviour and they turned to David Bowie, who has been known to dabble in substances a bit himself but in this instance was capable of remaining straight enough to take the tapes and at least put together something that salvaged the performances. He only had a day to do it and didn't have any state of the art equipment but used what he had to resurrect Raw Power in the form that we heard it today.

The result of Bowie's efforts is still pretty abysmal when it comes to sonic quality. It's a low-fidelity swamp from which the music struggles to emerge so its testament to the songwriting that it does. Search and Destroy is a great song. If you haven't heard it your missing out on one of Rock's most frantic but brilliant three and a half minutes. Iggy is in fine howling form and the guitars scream with some real power. The rest of the album never reaches the heights of the opening track but it's all good and slower, bluesy tracks like I Need Somebody prove The Stooges aren't stuck on one speed.

Attempts have been made to improve the sound on Raw Power as much as possible but sadly the deficiency of the original tapes makes a full resurrection impossible. We will never get to hear these songs as they could have been and have to endure them as we have them which is a huge pity.

When it came out hardly anyone actually heard Raw Power but today there's no reason for you to make the same mistake. It's worth hearing in whatever form it comes to us.

Highlight: Search and Destroy
Lowlight: Shake Appeal

Influenced by: The Rolling Stones
Influenced: Red Hot Chilli Peppers

Favourite Amazon Customer Review Quote: "why get mutt lange to digitally enhance gregorian monk chants? when he first started wailing in a dearborn trailer park i'll bet osterburg thought there would never come a day when he would tour with a man called ben laden in a town called belfast. you cannot fix what's not broken."

-I have no idea what any of that means. I understand they're words but I can't follow their meaning.

So is this Raw Power or overcooked? Let me know below.

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