Gimme Danger …

Raw Power finally gets its due

Come April 13 — about a month after Iggy & the Stooges finally were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (and a mere 37 years after their Raw Power album was unleashed upon an unsuspecting world) — this 2-CD Raw Power: Legacy Edition will hit the streets. One disc is the original album — largely unavailable since Iggy tried to salvage David Bowie's too-thin 1973 mix with his own (ultimately unsatisfying) remix in 1997 — in a remastered version of Bowie's mix that's (presumably) about as good as it's going to get. (Recently deceased bassist Ron and his brother and drummer Scott Asheton's contributions are still more felt than heard. ...)

But sonic quality has never been what made Raw Power — and Iggy & the Stooges — so great that the music (and the band) has survived (and ultimately flourished) for four decades now. It's the eight songs ("Search and Destroy" and the title track in particular), the sheer physical energy that was transmitted onto (and off) the record, and the heart-of-darkness lyrics that resonated among small pockets of disaffected youth and eventually — along with the Ramones (themselves Stooges-influenced) — invented "punk rock" as we now know it.

Speaking of disaffected youth, I've still got a 1973 vinyl copy of Raw Power that's been played so much the grooves have turned gray. And ... back in 1974, I saw Iggy & the Stooges play nine sets during a residency at the Whisky-a-Go-Go. Needless to say, it was like nothing I'd seen before or since: unbelievably vicious, feral, confrontational and loud. And, they did several songs ("Head On," "Heavy Liquid," "Cock in My Pocket," and "Open Up and Bleed," for openers) that weren't on any of their records! My younger brother captured one of those sets with a cassette recorder and we played that tape religiously for years. I later traded a copy to the late Greg Shaw of Bomp! Records, who then turned such recordings into a cottage industry.

Which brings us to ... the new package's second disc, recorded live in an Atlanta club just weeks after those 1974 Whisky shows. And — although James Williamson's guitar keeps shorting out until halfway through the second song, and Ig's vocals start falling out of the mix by the set's end — the overall sound is fatter, fuller and far superior to any live Stooges tapes that've previously surfaced. Augmented by future longtime Tom Petty sideman Scott Thurston on piano and harmonica, the Stooges slash through those same four then-unreleased songs in addition to four tunes from Raw Power. It's not just everything those preachers like Michigan's own Dr. Jack Van Impe have always feared and said rock 'n' roll was ... it's everything you wish you never thought about. ... It's that great.

You also get a previously unreleased rehearsal version of "Head On" and a Raw Power outtake ("Doojiman") — Iggy making jungle noises over a groove thang — and a 24-page booklet (still unseen by this author at press time) with essays from the surviving Stooges, UK journo Kris Needs and Michigan scribe Brian J. Bowe.

But then, on April 27, comes the 3-CD+DVD Raw Power: Deluxe Edition. The new third disc features "I'm Hungry" (which is really "Penetration" with half-baked lyrics), "I Got a Right" (a different, less powerful version than the one first heard on a Siamese Records 45 in the late '70s), "I'm Sick of You" (a widely bootlegged, half-"Happenings Ten Years Time Ago" rip-off that sounds better than ever), and "Hey, Peter" (a rolling Stoned riff with sketchy lyrics). Interesting alternate vintage mixes of "Shake Appeal" and "Death Trip," Japanese 45 mixes of "Search and Destroy" and "Raw Power," and Iggy's '97 mixes of "Gimme Danger" and "Your Pretty Face Is Going to Hell" complete this disc.

The DVD is a 45-minute "Making of Raw Power" doc — directed by Morgan Neville — that's highlighted by tantalizingly brief, color live footage of the band's sole 1972 London show (unfortunately, there's no audio track here) and a single-song snippet from the 2009 Brazilian festival concert that marked their first performance with James Williamson in 35 years.

The rest of the DVD alternates between interviews with the three remaining Stooges, their musical associates (the abovementioned Scott Thurston and bassist Mike Watt), now-famous fans (Chrissie Hynde, Clem Burke, Johnny Marr and Henry Rollins), and photographers Mick Rock and Detroit's own Robert Matheu, in addition to montages set to the Stooges' music.

Toss in five 5-by-7-inch prints, a reproduction — complete with picture sleeve — of that aforementioned Japanese 45, and a 48-page booklet (also unseen) that adds an essay by Rollins, photos by Rock and Matheu (among others), and a fistful of rock-star testimonials ... which is all somewhat amusing 'cause back in 1973, future Back Door Man fanzine founder Phast Phreddie Patterson and yours truly taught a UCLA extension class — "Rock And Roll: The Loud, The Hard and The Fast"— that we opened by blasting "Search and Destroy," which I immediately proclaimed to be "the most important rock 'n' roll record of the '70s." It sucks to be ahead of your time ...

Bill Holdship is the music editor of Metro Times Send comments to [email protected].

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