“Search and Destroy” is, of course, the all-time badass anthem. “I’m a street-walkin’ cheetah with a hide full of napalm / I’m the runaway son of a nuclear A-bomb” is as undiluted and perfect a distillation of fuck-you rock ‘n’ roll attitude as anything Muddy Waters or Robert Johnson ever came up with. The album it’s from is Raw Power, and the 38 minutes of feral mania that follow constitute one of the finest, bloodiest Dionysian works of art ever made.
In 1972, the Stooges were near the point of collapse when David Bowie's management team, MainMan, took a chance on the band at Bowie's behest. By this point, guitarist Ron Asheton and bassist Dave Alexander had been edged out of the picture, and James Williamson had signed on as Iggy's new guitar mangler; Asheton rejoined the band shortly before recording commenced on Raw Power, but was forced to play second fiddle to Williamson as bassist. By most accounts, tensions were high during the recording of Raw Power, and the album sounds like the work of a band on its last legs -- though rather than grinding to a halt, Iggy & the Stooges appeared ready to explode like an ammunition dump.
The Stooges were ahead of their time with 1973’s Raw Power, which pierced the flower child movement with its screeching intensity. On the three-disc Masters Edition, the landmark proto-punk album is refined at a decibel-defying rate while the outtakes highlight the grating guitars and Iggy’s guttural vocals that trademarked the group’s sound. But, it’s the live recordings loaded with raging tour de forces like “Search and Destroy” and “Gimme Danger” that reaffirm The Stooges as timeless.
Legacy isn’t something that comes overnight. For all Iggy Pop’s rhetoric surrounding his latest reunion with The Stooges, the fact remains that whatever he might have thought of Raw Power when it finally emerged, spitting blood and teeth, in 1973, he could have had no idea exactly how long the legacy of what has become known as one of the finest rock records ever released would last. And in that sense, I’m done reviewing the ‘legacy edition’ of Raw Power already.
Running raw At this point, it’s almost cliché to heap plaudits upon The Stooges’ 1973 album Raw Power, but its recent re-release in the form of a new two-disc Legacy Edition and a three-disc Deluxe Edition gives us even more reasons to keep doing just that. Both packages feature a live recording of the band’s 1973 Atlanta performance called “Georgia Peaches,” which (aside from showcasing Iggy Pop’s bellicose stage presence and his desire to stick things into other people’s asses) boasts superb piano and bass presence. It also demonstrates the band’s great contradiction—how it sounded great even at the height of dysfunction.
When Iggy Pop commanded a generation of glam-rock kids and biker-bar burnouts to "dance to the beat of the living dead" on Raw Power's totemic title track, he wasn't just talking B-movie nonsense-- he was heralding his band's back-from-the-grave resurrection. Because the Stooges heard on Raw Power were not the same band that produced 1969's self-titled debut or 1970's Funhouse, but rather some mutant, zombie version. With the Stooges dropped from Elektra, Iggy exploited a solo-artist deal with David Bowie's management to reassemble his band around new guitarist James Williamson, pushing Ron Asheton to bass and re-branding the Stooges as "Iggy & the Stooges".
The landmark album now features a bonus live set worthy of (re)investment. Mike Diver 2010 Pack away your superlatives, sir, for they’ve all been said. Such is the legend of Raw Power, The Stooges’ third album, that more column inches have been devoted to it than the combined height of all the individuals who purchased it upon its original February 1973 release (it was widely ignored).