The Stooges
Raw Power


5.0
classic

Review

by Elliott S. Edwards STAFF
February 17th, 2017 | 33 replies


Release Date: 1973 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The World's Forgotten Boy.

The fundamental problem with Gimme Danger, Jim Jarmusch’s safe, borderline clinical and historical re-tread of The Stooges' later, James Williamson-led period, is that, contrary to everything Jarmusch brings to cinema, and contrary to everything The Stooges brought to pop music, it is a film that sees The Stooges' career in a straight line. Writing for the Village Voice, Melissa Anderson succinctly rattles off a list of errors, including;

'The corny hyperbole … cute animation, drearily obvious era-setting archival footage. Band members come and go (and die); Pop's fruitful association with David Bowie in the Seventies gets discussed too cursorily.' (para. 1)

Particularly, the man who directed ‘Stranger than Paradise,’ an inversion of idiocy and comedy, and ‘Permanent Vacation,’ the meaning of life in New York, should be capable of detailing the minute intricacies of The Stooges more lovingly, and especially in his own voice. The three-chord riff of “I Wanna Be Your Dog,” forever cementing the cliché of the three-chord punk rock song. The nightmarish calamity and lyrical desperation of “Fun House.” The scathing indictment of the Vietnam War through the (at the time) unbearably grating mixing job of “Search and Destroy.” The Stooges are much bigger than any one story that sees them as a beginning, a middle, and an ending. Their career is a micro study for all forms of aggression and rebellion in music, post-everything. Jim Jarmusch chief among them.

Of course, the period of The Stooges' career that Gimme Danger so often refers to, is a different entity than the one that preceded it. That particular iteration of The Stooges was engrossed with its own weirdness as a form of rebellion, utilising droning passages and saxophone squalls in supplement of rock music that was distinctly drained of any recognisable rhythm or blues. The two albums produced under that moniker- The Stooges and Fun House- are masterpieces, certifying a commanding influence over all music slightly left-of-centre; alternative, if you will. The influence of these album's cannot be understated.

And then, there is Raw Power.

Released in 1973, three years after Fun House, shifting line-ups saw perennially bass-y Ron Asheton pushed from guitar to bass, complimenting a rhythm section which already had his brother Scott on drums, along with James Williamson- another beast entirely- on lead guitar. Recording sessions were tense: Williamson, unlike his fellow freaks, was not as deeply indebted to freakiness, and played within distinctly traditional styles, to say nothing of his own uniqueness. In Johnny Marr’s estimations, he had, ‘the technique of Jimmy Page … with the irreverence and attitude of Keith Richards.’ It meant that the music had a newfound swing, moving away from stilted droning into the sort of music that would quite easily be accepted in the popular mainstay; that is, were it not for the pointed irreverence of Iggy Pop.

Besides that, though, Raw Power proved the most accessible and successful syntheses of alternative and pop. Its impressively filthy lead-off track, “Search and Destroy,” tumbles around with such abandon that, in the course of three-and-a-half minutes, noise starts swelling around the edges of the recording, whilst Williamson plays more frantically and Pop wails more incoherently. Nominally, the story of the, ‘Runaway son of the nuclear A-Bomb,’ the song acts an articulation of American aggression, specifically the sort that saw Kissinger launch indiscriminate bombing campaigns over Cambodia in the name of democracy. Making sense of such senseless destruction, The Stooges brutalise the listener into a sense of maddened fury, riffing in a way that, nay, neither Led Zeppelin nor The Rolling Stones were capable of. It wasn’t the easiest listen at the time but it’s sense of fury has come to pervade everything about good rock music, some forty-plus years later.

Elsewhere, Raw Power simmers with the sound of LA: sex, drugs, and rock and roll. “Hard to Beat,” a song about brawling, is as violent as the title suggests. “Penetration” makes few qualms about its double entendre of a title, featuring Pop wailing and moaning the title to one of Williamson’s aptly swaggering guitar licks. “Raw Power?” It’s about raw power, funnily enough. Even at the behest of Columbia, intent to ensure at least a quarter of the album would be accessible, the token ballads, “Gimme Danger” and “I Need Somebody,” are closer to the vile ramblings of narcotic-addled junky than they are love songs. True enough, they sing about desire, but not in any conventional manner. In “Gimme Danger,” Pop delivers a sickeningly defeatist line, exclaiming that,

There's nothing in my dreams
Just some ugly memories
Kiss me like the ocean breeze.

Raw Power is riddled with these moments, partly as a result of Iggy Pop’s many years spent abusing heroin (years that would continue well past The Stooges' implosion and into Pop's successful solo career.) LA was- and to an extent, still is- a place where people go to realise their dreams, only to realise themselves that dreams are often built off of the broken hopes of others. Literature and film has dealt with this topic extensively, especially as it relates to topics concerning the American Dream; music at this stage however had made little reference to it. If it were Led Zeppelin, the music concerned Tolkien mythology. If it were The Rolling Stones, it concerned being Parisian tax exiles. Nobody in pop music was even considering the furious nature by which metropolitan areas were churning out success stories, only to lie to its fanatics and perpetuate a cycle of constant malaise.

Nowadays, this strain of hopelessness occupies the centre-stage of music, with albums as diverse as Appetite for Destruction and My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy contemplating what it means to have no hope in the land of opportunity. Fortunately enough, The Stooges' did it first and they did it best. Fusing a literary flare with an opaque musical setting, Iggy Pop redefined and rendered pop music in his own image; a junky and a loser, without any dreams and nothing left to show for his ambitions. Raw Power is the ultimate quantification of that, though it is also, as the title suggests, the sound of unadulterated aggression; clipped guitars, tightly-wound rhythms, and rallying cries of injustice and frustration. Jim Jarmusch certainly felt as much; why he didn’t articulate it well enough is anybody’s guess.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
Arcade
Staff Reviewer
February 17th 2017


8094 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

this one's for fripp.

Digging: Jidenna - The Chief

Frippertronics
February 17th 2017


11411 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

you need to check the '71 "Circus" live shows with Ron and James on guitar with Zeke Zettner (I think, they went through a ton of bassists between Dave and Ron), the shows don't sound that great but the songs are incredible and the band is on fucking fire

Digging: Gottfried Huppertz - Metropolis, Op. 29

Arcade
Staff Reviewer
February 17th 2017


8094 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

i literally destroyed my fingers typing in a mad fit and that's what you comment brrrrgh



but srsly i'll check... if it's better than Telluric Chaos or Metallic K.O.

Frippertronics
February 17th 2017


11411 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

well if you're looking for actual good quality shows, your only option aside from Metallic K.O. is the Georgia Peaches bootleg that was included on the deluxe edition of Raw Power a few years ago, and the show consists of Raw Power material and songs that would've made up their fourth album.



The Electric Circus '71 shows had material that would've made up their next album if Elektra didn't drop them, one of the songs being "I Got a Right".

wham49
February 17th 2017


2747 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

those looking to 5 a punk album can start here

Digging: The Grateful Dead - Dave's Picks volume 21

NeroCorleone80
February 17th 2017


34086 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Fun House >

Digging: Anthony Braxton & Derek Bailey - Moment Precieux

wham49
February 17th 2017


2747 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

well that too, the first 3 stooges albums are all 5's

rockandmetaljunkie
February 17th 2017


6443 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

finally, a fitting review for this classic album !!

rockandmetaljunkie
February 17th 2017


6443 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

You should do "Fun House" as well

Frippertronics
February 17th 2017


11411 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

"You should do "Fun House" as well"



noooooooooooooooooo he shouldn't

wham49
February 17th 2017


2747 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

be nice frip,



besides being confusing as hell it was good, or at least he got the rating right

parksungjoon
February 17th 2017


5081 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

"those looking to 5 a punk album can start here"



is it really the most accessible?

wham49
February 17th 2017


2747 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

is punk supposed to be accessible, probably not, and if it is very accessible, probably not very punk



considering that this was made about 3 years before there was such a thing as punk and was probably called rock music it is pretty accessible.

parksungjoon
February 17th 2017


5081 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

rest assured i dont need a lesson in rock history ;)



im just saying, people looking to 5 a punk album should probably start with the clash or something

wham49
February 17th 2017


2747 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Fripp, I think they have a series, only vinyl I do believe, of live stuff from the period, I have more power, and I think there is at least 2 more



sorry my bad dude, actually maybe you do need a lesson if you want people to start with The Clash, bunch of P's who were so overhyped, maybe if you want people to graduate to green day, or any of the other crap that is now pop punk.

parksungjoon
February 17th 2017


5081 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

if you think the clash and green day are in the same league you are high as hell on your own farts



oh right i remember now



sputnikmusic is the site where a bunch of 19 year olds try to convince me that they know more about music that they werent even alive for



yeah you're so intellectual and cultured for shitting on the clash, good job dude



parksungjoon
February 17th 2017


5081 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

ive never seen anyone be so brave and bold and beautiful to criticize the clash, truly you are a gentleman and a scholar and i bow down to your patrician taste





wham49
February 17th 2017


2747 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I dont shit on the Clash they do that themselves, and you were alive for this release, I highly doubt it, go 5 another video game soundtrack dude

parksungjoon
February 17th 2017


5081 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

"go 5 another video game soundtrack dude"



spoken like a true wanker pleb who never enjoyed the golden apple that was 90s PC gaming

parksungjoon
February 17th 2017


5081 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

another worthless self-important /mu/ shitstain



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