Raw Power

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Raw Power
Studio album by The Stooges
Released February 7, 1973
Recorded September 10–October 6, 1972
Studio CBS Studios, Whitfield Street, London
Length 33:57
Label Columbia
The Stooges chronology
Fun House
(1970)Fun House1970
Raw Power
Metallic K.O.
(1976)Metallic K.O.1976

Raw Power is the third studio album by American rock band The Stooges (credited as "Iggy and the Stooges"). It was released on February 7, 1973, by Columbia Records.

Though not initially commercially successful, Raw Power gained a cult following in the years following its release and, like its predecessor (1970's Fun House), is generally considered an influential forerunner of punk rock.[3]

Recording history[edit]

After their first two albums, The Stooges (1969) and Fun House (1970) were released to little commercial success, The Stooges were in disarray: they had officially broken up, bassist Dave Alexander was fighting alcoholism, and singer Iggy Pop's heroin addiction was escalating prior to the intervention of David Bowie. Pop later recalled, "Very few people recognized the quality of the Stooges' songwriting, it was really meticulous. And to his credit, the only person I'd ever known of in print to notice it, among my peers of professional musicians, was Bowie. He noticed it right off."[4] Pop relocated to London, having signed on as a solo artist to MainMan Management[5] (who also handled Bowie) and Columbia Records. In London, Pop was to write and record an album with James Williamson, who had joined The Stooges as a second guitarist in late 1970. After they couldn't find a suitable English rhythm section, Williamson suggested that former Stooges Ron Asheton and Scott Asheton fly over and participate in the recording sessions. With Williamson already on guitar, Ron, the group's founding lead guitarist, was relegated to bass, while Scott took up his usual position behind the drum kit.

Initial demo sessions were held at RG Jones Studios in Wimbledon with sound engineer Gerry Kitchingham[6] and at Olympic Studios in Barnes with sound engineer Keith Harwood, with most of the songs rejected by the group's management. Pop said that Columbia executives insisted on two ballads, one for each side of the record; these two were "Gimme Danger" and "I Need Somebody". The album was recorded in London's CBS Studios, from September 10 – October 6, 1972, with staff engineer Mike Ross-Trevor. Pop produced and mixed the album by himself; unfortunately, his botched first attempt mixed most of the instruments into one stereo channel and the vocals into the other, with little regard for balance or tone quality. Tony DeFries, the head of MainMan, informed Pop that the album would be remixed by Bowie. Pop agreed to this, claiming that "the other choice was I wasn't going to get my album out. I think DeFries told me that CBS refused to release it like that, I don't know",[4] but insisted that his own mix for "Search and Destroy" be retained. Due to budgetary constraints, Bowie remixed the other seven songs in a single day in an inexpensive Los Angeles studio, Western Sound Recorders, in October 1972. Pop said of the production:

To the best of my recollection it was done in a day. I don't think it was two days. On a very, very old board, I mean this board was old! An Elvis type of board, old-tech, low-tech, in a poorly lit, cheap old studio with very little time. To David's credit, he listened with his ear to each thing and talked it out with me, I gave him what I thought it should have, he put that in its perspective, added some touches. He's always liked the most recent technology, so there was something called a Time Cube you could feed a signal into -- it looked like a bong, a big plastic tube with a couple of bends in it -- and when the sound came out the other end, it sort of shot at you like an echo effect. He used that on the guitar in "Gimme Danger", a beautiful guitar echo overload that's absolutely beautiful; and on the drums in "Your Pretty Face Is Going To Hell". His concept was, "You're so primitive, your drummer should sound like he's beating a log!" It's not a bad job that he did...I'm very proud of the eccentric, odd little record that came out.[4]

Bowie later recalled:

...the most absurd situation I encountered when I was recording was the first time I worked with Iggy Pop. He wanted me to mix Raw Power, so he brought the 24-track tape in, and he put it up. He had the band on one track, lead guitar on another and him on a third. Out of 24 tracks there were just three tracks that were used. He said 'see what you can do with this'. I said, 'Jim, there's nothing to mix'. So we just pushed the vocal up and down a lot. On at least four or five songs that was the situation, including "Search and Destroy." That's got such a peculiar sound because all we did was occasionally bring the lead guitar up and take it out.[7]

Alternative mixes[edit]

Rough Power (1993)
Bomp! (cat# BCD 4049)

Low-fidelity copies of Pop's original mixes circulated among fans for years. In 1993, a selection of these original mixes was released by Bomp Records as Rough Power. Fans and critics generally agreed that the original mixes were interesting, but not necessarily superior to Bowie's efforts. Of the Rough Power release, Pop has remarked that "what David and I came up with at these sessions was better than that."[4]

In 1996, Columbia Records "invited" Pop to remix the entire album for re-release on CD. Pop says in the liner notes that had he declined, the studio would have remixed it without his blessing. Pop cited longtime encouragement from fans and peers, the existence of Rough Power, his distaste for how the original 1989 CD release of Raw Power sounded, and the fact that Columbia were going to release the new mix on its sub-label Legacy Recordings as factors that led him to go through with the new mix, which was undertaken at New York's Sony Music Studios in 1996. The remixed edition of Raw Power was released on April 22, 1997. In the album's accompanying liner notes, Pop states the following:

In retrospect, I think the little touches Bowie put on the mix helped and I think some of the things MainMan did helped, and more than anything else, what the whole experience did was to get me out of Detroit and onto a world stage. And also I learned a helluva lot being over there in England and I started thinking differently. It led to a very ambitious piece of work, and that's fine. But the fact was that neither Bowie's mix nor my previous mix could do justice to the power of the band or even to the legibility of the vocal ... I feel that now I have the wherewithall [sic], the position, and the expertise at my disposal to give this thing its due sonically, and I didn't have that before. So it's kind of like I'm finishing that off. I don't think you can beat David's mix, it's very creative. But this is just a simple, straight band mix of a powerful band. I feel like there's a closure on it and that's a nice thing.[4]

On the other hand, some fans – guitarist Robert Quine among them – felt the new remix was as unfaithful to the material as the original 1973 mix, and further criticized the audible digital distortion in the new mix.[8] In the reissued CD's liner notes, however, Pop points out that one of his intentions in doing the new mix was to keep audio levels in the red (which would deliberately cause such distortion) while at the same time making the music more "powerful and listenable". This new version is arguably the loudest album ever, reaching RMS of -4 dB, rare even by today's standards.[9]

James Williamson and Ron Asheton have both stated that they prefer Bowie's original mix of the album to Pop's remixed version. Williamson stated:

I personally think [the remixed Raw Power] sucked. I gotta tell ya that I like the IDEA of what [Iggy] tried to do, and I talked to him about it, and there's a lot of factors involved, but at the time, none of us liked Bowie's mix, but given everything, Iggy, when he went in to mix it, he found out that the guy who had recorded it originally had not gotten a lot of level on certain things, like the bass and drums, especially the bass, so he didn't have a lot to work with. Then Iggy, on his mix, he left a bunch of guitar stuff on there that probably shouldn't have been left in, and just odds and ends. Bowie's not my favorite guy, but I have to say that overall, I think he did a pretty good job.[10]

Asheton stated:

Don Fleming goes, "You know what? When Iggy's Raw Power mix comes out, I'll bet you're gonna go -- we always used to say how bad the original David Bowie mix of Raw Power was -- Fleming's going, "When you hear Iggy's mix, I guarantee you're gonna say, 'Man, remember that great mix that David Bowie did?'" So I heard it, I got the advance copy from his manager, and listened to it. Then I called Fleming and I'm going, "Gee, Don, I just listened to Iggy's mix of Raw Power. Man, I sure loved that old David Bowie mix. Was it ever great."...Basically, all that Iggy did was take all the smoothness and all the effects off James [Williamson]'s guitar, so his leads sound really abrupt and stilty and almost clumsy, and he just put back every single grunt, groan, and word he ever said on the whole fuckin' soundtrack. He just totally restored everything that was cut out of him in the first mix, and I thought, Damn, I really did like the old mix better.[11]

In 2002, Bowie said that his original mix of Raw Power 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."[12]

Pop and Bowie's mixes were both remastered in 2012 for a Record Store Day double LP, by Kevin Gray and Mark Wilder, respectively. This remastering was free of clipping.

Release and reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 5/5 stars[13]
Chicago Tribune 4/4 stars[14]
Christgau's Record Guide B+[15]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music 4/5 stars[16]
MusicHound Rock 4.5/5[17]
Q 4/5 stars[18]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide 4/5 stars[19]
Spin Alternative Record Guide 9/10[20]
The Village Voice A− (remix)[21]

Raw Power was released in America in May 1973 and in the UK the following month as an album by "Iggy and the Stooges", contrasting with the group's first two albums, credited to "The Stooges". The album sleeve comprised a photograph of Pop taken by rock music photographer Mick Rock. The songs "Search and Destroy" and "Shake Appeal" were both released as singles (the album's title track was released as a single in Japan only). The album peaked at No. 52 on the Billboard Pop Albums chart.[22] The group continued touring for about a year, but Columbia dropped their contract. The Stooges were also dumped by MainMan – Tony DeFries lost patience with the band after the large sum of money he advanced to them was bankrolled on drugs. The Stooges broke up in February 1974. After spending time in a drug-fueled stupor in L.A. – and later rehab at the UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute – Pop re-joined Bowie's entourage, and emerged as a solo artist in 1976.

In a contemporary review for Rolling Stone, Lenny Kaye responded favorably to the record's uncompromising music and wrote that "for the first time, the Stooges have used the recording studio as more than a recapturing of their live show, and with David Bowie helping out in the mix, there is an ongoing swirl of sound that virtually drags you into the speakers".[23] Music journalist Will Hodgkinson believed that while the band's debut album was "charged and brutal garage-rock" and Fun House was "lurid chaos", Raw Power was more musically sophisticated "in its debauchery."[24] Robert Christgau was somewhat less impressed. He praised Williamson's guitar playing while writing that the side-opening tracks "Search and Destroy" and "Raw Power" "voice the Iggy Pop ethos more insanely (and aggressively) than 'I Wanna Be Your Dog'", but felt that "the rest disperses in their wake" and that Bowie had mixed the record too thinly.[15] Reviewing the 1997 remix in The Village Voice, Christgau deemed "the pumped bass and vocals Iggy has uncovered on the original tapes" to be a "quantum improvement" over the original mix, but concluded that "the slow ones, which like all of Iggy's slow ones are not as good as his fast ones, stand between a statement of principle and a priceless work of art."[21]

Singer and guitarist Kurt Cobain of the band Nirvana wrote in his Journals numerous times that Raw Power was his favorite album of all time. In his list of the top 50 albums he thought were most influential to Nirvana's sound entered in his journal in 1993, "Raw Power" appears in the number one slot.[25] Johnny Marr of The Smiths has also spoken highly of the record, commenting on James Williamson's guitar playing on the album: "I'm his biggest fan. He has the technical ability of Jimmy Page without being as studious, and the swagger of Keith Richards without being sloppy. He's both demonic and intellectual, almost how you would imagine Darth Vader to sound if he was in a band."[26] Steve Jones from the Sex Pistols once claimed that he learned to play guitar by taking speed and playing along to Raw Power.[27]

Henry Rollins of Black Flag has "Search & Destroy" tattooed across his shoulder blades.[28] Former Smiths frontman Morrissey once described the song as "great" and "a very LA song".[29] Mötley Crüe founder Nikki Sixx has cited it as a major influence: "When I was fifteen years old, I remember Iggy and the Stooges’ song 'Search and Destroy' reaching out from my speakers to me like my own personal anthem."

It was the first album Jason Pierce, of Spacemen 3 and Spiritualized, ever bought with his own money in Boots in Rugby, UK.[citation needed] Cee Lo Green cited Raw Power as one of his favorite albums. "The album seems like it's all done in one take. 'Let's do that one, leave it, just try something else'. With his energy on stage, it seems as if the studio was just destroyed after that album - or at least you'd like to believe that".[30]

The album's songs have been frequently covered. Prominent versions include the Dictators', Red Hot Chili Peppers', Dead Boys', Shotgun Messiah's, and Def Leppard's covers of "Search and Destroy", Guns N' Roses' cover of "Raw Power" (title track) on The Spaghetti Incident?, and Ewan McGregor covering "Gimme Danger" for the film Velvet Goldmine, a movie telling the story of a character based around David Bowie's Ziggy Stardust during the 1970s glam rock era. "Gimme Danger" was also covered by Frank Black for the game Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2. A cover of "Search and Destroy" by Emanuel also appeared on the soundtrack to Tony Hawk's American Wasteland. Additionally, a cover of the album's namesake track "Raw Power" is performed by Romeo Delta in Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty.


Live performances[edit]

In May 2010 Pop, Williamson, Mike Watt, Scott Asheton, and Steve Mackay performed Raw Power in its entirety as part of the All Tomorrow's Parties-curated Don't Look Back series.

Track listing[edit]

Original release[edit]

All tracks written by Iggy Pop and James Williamson.

Side one
No. Title Length
1. "Search and Destroy" 3:29
2. "Gimme Danger" 3:33
3. "Your Pretty Face Is Going to Hell" (originally titled "Hard to Beat") 4:54
4. "Penetration" 3:41
Side two
No. Title Length
5. "Raw Power" 4:16
6. "I Need Somebody" 4:53
7. "Shake Appeal" 3:04
8. "Death Trip" 6:07

Deluxe edition[edit]

No. Title Length
1. "Search and Destroy" 3:29
2. "Gimme Danger" 3:33
3. "Your Pretty Face Is Going to Hell" (originally titled "Hard to Beat") 4:54
4. "Penetration" 3:41
5. "Raw Power" 4:16
6. "I Need Somebody" 4:53
7. "Shake Appeal" 3:04
8. "Death Trip" 6:07

Disc twoGeorgia Peaches (Live at Richards, Atlanta, Georgia, October 1973)

  1. "Introduction"
  2. "Raw Power"
  3. "Head On"
  4. "Gimme Danger"
  5. "Search and Destroy"
  6. "I Need Somebody"
  7. "Heavy Liquid"
  8. "Cock in My Pocket"
  9. "Open Up and Bleed"
  10. "Doojiman" (Outtake from the session for Raw Power)
  11. "Head On (Rehearsal performance)" (from CBS Studios Rehearsal Tape)

Disc threeRarities, Outtakes & Alternatives from the Raw Power Era

  1. "I'm Hungry"
  2. "I Got a Right"
  3. "I'm Sick of You"
  4. "Hey, Peter"
  5. "Shake Appeal"
  6. "Death Trip"
  7. "Gimme Danger"
  8. "Your Pretty Face Is Going to Hell"

Bonus DVD

  • Documentary by Morgan Neville
  • Live performance footage from Festival Planeta Terra, São Paulo, Brazil - November 2009

2010 reissue[edit]

A remastered version of David Bowie's original mix along with a second disc of unreleased live tracks and soundchecks, including a live soundboard recording from Atlanta in October 1973, and liner notes written by Brian J. Bowe, was released in 2010. A deluxe version was released on 13 April 2010 titled Raw Power: The Masters Edition, consisting of three CDs, one DVD, one 7" vinyl record, a booklet, and a pack of photo prints.

2012 Record Store Day reissue[edit]

Raw Power saw a limited vinyl re-release on Record Store Day on April 21, 2012. The release included two LP's (one containing the remastered 1973 David Bowie mix and the other containing a remastered version of the 1997 Iggy Pop mix) and a sixteen-page commemorative booklet with quotes from the band, pictures of the band from photographer Mick Rock at their infamous King's Cross Cinema show in the summer of 1972, and written pieces by British journalist Kris Needs and rock 'n roll historian Brian J. Bowe.


The Stooges

Additional personnel

  • David Bowie – piano, percussion, mixing (1973 version)
  • Bruce Dickinson – executive production on 1997 reissue


  1. ^ Agarwal, Manish (April 2007). "The Weirdness (Virgin)". Mojo (161). Ignored at the time, the first three Stooges records are now seen as proto-punk landmarks: 1969's deadpan nihilistic debut; 1970's molten masterpiece Funhouse and 1973's sleazy, volatile Raw Power. 
  2. ^ Kent, Nick (2010). Apathy for the Devil. Faber & Faber. p. 381. ISBN 0571258387. Retrieved June 27, 2013. 
  3. ^ "The Stooges Biography". rockhall.com. Retrieved February 9, 2012. 
  4. ^ a b c d e Raw Power 1997 CD liner notes.
  5. ^ Discogs - Raw Power, images (of Mainman, Ltd.) 1973 promo-LP, Columbia Records (KC 32111) US
  6. ^ Richard Buskin: A-ha 'Take On Me' Classic Tracks. In: Sound on Sound magazine March 2011
  7. ^ Tony Horkins (December 1991). "TIN MACHINE: BOWIE & GABRELS". International Musician. Retrieved 9 February 2012. 
  8. ^ Jason Gross (November 1997). "Robert Quine". Perfect Sound Forever. Retrieved February 9, 2012. 
  9. ^ http://chicagomasteringservice.com/loudness.html
  10. ^ Ken Shimamoto. "James Williamson talks: Raw Power 30 years on". i94bar.com. Archived from the original on December 28, 2005. Retrieved February 9, 2012. 
  11. ^ Ken Shimamoto. "RON ASHETON: CALLING FROM THE FUNHOUSE". i94bar.com. Retrieved February 9, 2012. 
  12. ^ David Bowie (2005). Moonage Daydream. Hardie Grant Books. p. 61. 
  13. ^ Mark Deming. "Raw Power". AllMusic. Retrieved 9 February 2012. 
  14. ^ Kot, Greg (July 22, 1990). "Pop On Pop: Iggy Rates His Own Music (and So Do We)". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved November 27, 2016. 
  15. ^ a b Christgau, Robert (1981). "Iggy and the Stooges: Raw Power". Christgau's Record Guide: Rock Albums of the '70s. Da Capo Press. ISBN 0306804093. Retrieved November 27, 2016. 
  16. ^ Larkin, Colin (2011). "The Stooges". The Encyclopedia of Popular Music (5th ed.). Omnibus Press. ISBN 0857125958. 
  17. ^ Graff, Gary (1996). "The Stooges". In Graff, Gary. MusicHound Rock: The Essential Album Guide. Detroit: Visible Ink Press. ISBN 0787610372. 
  18. ^ "Review". Q. August 1994. p. 126. 
  19. ^ Coleman, Mark (1992). "The Stooges". In DeCurtis, Anthony; Henke, James; George-Warren, Holly. The Rolling Stone Album Guide (3rd ed.). Random House. pp. 676–77. ISBN 0679737294. 
  20. ^ Weisbard, Eric; Marks, Craig, eds. (1995). "The Stooges". Spin Alternative Record Guide. New York: Vintage Books. p. 378. ISBN 0-679-75574-8. 
  21. ^ a b Christgau, Robert (January 1998). "Consumer Guide". The Village Voice. Retrieved November 27, 2016. 
  22. ^ http://www.allmusic.com/album/raw-power-mw0000202295/awards
  23. ^ Lenny Kaye (10 May 1973). "The Stooges: Raw Power". Rolling Stone. Retrieved February 9, 2012. 
  24. ^ Hodgkinson, Will (2006). Guitar Man. Da Capo Press. p. 203. ISBN 0306815141. Retrieved June 27, 2013. 
  25. ^ "Top 50 by Nirvana [MIXTAPE]". Retrieved May 8, 2013. 
  26. ^ Will Hodgkinson; Alexis Petridis (March 11, 2010). "The world was not ready for Iggy and the Stooges". The Guardian. Retrieved February 9, 2012. 
  27. ^ Jon Savage (April 1992). "Sex Pistols". Spin. 8 (1): 42. ISSN 0886-3032. Retrieved February 9, 2012. 
  28. ^ "Henry Rollins". The Vanishing Tattoo. 
  29. ^ "Morrissey — KROQ interview (part 4/4)". morrissey-solo.com. Retrieved February 9, 2012. 
  30. ^ Ben Hewitt (January 4, 2011). "Baker's Dozen: Cee Lo Green On His 13 Favourite Records". The Quietus. Retrieved February 9, 2012. 
  31. ^ "Staff Lists: Top 100 Albums of the 1970s". June 23, 2004. Retrieved January 2, 2013. 
  32. ^ "125 – Raw Power – The Stooges". rollingstone.com. Retrieved February 9, 2012. 
  33. ^ http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2010-08-27/features/ct-ott-0827-iggy-pop-20100827_1_scott-asheton-ron-asheton-stooges

External links[edit]