Raw Power (2023 Remaster) [Iggy Mix]

Raw Power (2023 Remaster) [Iggy Mix]

Ask Iggy Pop what he wanted to accomplish when he and The Stooges started writing their third album Raw Power, and he’ll tell you this: “I didn’t think we were going to accomplish much, because everybody preferred to listen to tamer stuff, frankly. That’s the thing: It was too wild for people. But what did I want? I just wanted to out-rock everyone.” The newly reconfigured band, with Iggy on vocals, James Williamson on guitar, Scott Asheton on drums, and former Stooges guitarist Ron Asheton moving to bass—and David Bowie producing—was about to do just that. What they didn’t know when they entered London’s CBS Studios in September of 1972 is that they were also about to lay the blueprint for punk. Fifty years after its February 1973 release, Raw Power still looms like a colossus. But its beginnings were less than auspicious. “Once The Stooges Mach One had broken up, everything was in shambles,” Iggy tells Apple Music. “I had an offer to go to England and put together a band, but no one was looking for The Stooges again—just me. So I sought out Williamson, who was the most interesting guitar player I knew. He was living on his sister’s couch. I said, ‘Play me your best current idea.’ He played me the riff to ‘Penetration.’ So that was what convinced me. I got on the phone and pushed and shoved and manipulated until we got him brought over with me, and ultimately the other two. Everybody just threw up their hands: ‘Great, we’ve got the fucking Stooges.’” Beyond Williamson’s crucial presence, there was another important distinction. The dysfunctional, drug-addled band that had released their self-titled 1969 album and 1970’s Fun House as simply The Stooges was now Iggy & The Stooges. And the implied power shift was very real: This was now Iggy’s band. “I thought, this is not the time in my career to go anywhere without my own music,” he recalls. “I'll be overwhelmed, and I'll be in an area where my feet can't touch the ground.” Iggy’s new musical partnership with Williamson was difficult at first. “He's hard to play with,” Iggy says. “He learned in his bedroom, and he likes to write in his bedroom. He doesn't really think about other people. So his style's very dense, very hard to find a place in. It was difficult for me to sing to it, so I decided to go over the top.” “Over the top” might be the best way to describe some of the most memorable moments on Raw Power. With its slash-and-burn riff and opening salvo “I’m a streetwalking cheetah with a heart full of napalm/I’m the runaway son of the nuclear A-bomb,” “Search and Destroy” is an anthem for the ages, the song that launched a thousand bands—everyone from the Sex Pistols’ Steve Jones and The Smiths’ Johnny Marr to The Clash’s Mick Jones will confirm it. Of course, 25-year-old Iggy didn’t know that he and The Stooges were about to launch a movement, but he could sense the song’s greatness. “When I heard the playback of ‘Search and Destroy’ in the studio, I thought it had this immortal quality,” he says. “I knew it was good and that it was something that would hold up in a particular way over a very long period of time.” The same could be said of the serpentine, Doors-like “Gimme Danger,” the nasty groove and hypnotic xylophone melody of “Penetration,” and the dirty, rolling blues of “I Need Somebody.” The stories behind them—not to mention the motorcycle-rock title track; the lusty, handclap-propelled “Shake Appeal”; and the petulant kiss-off “Your Pretty Face Is Going to Hell”—are almost as cool as the songs themselves. Here Iggy details each of the songs on one of punk’s most enduring documents. “Search and Destroy” “There was an article on Vietnam in Time magazine, and the two subheadings in the two parts of the piece—one was ‘Search and Destroy,’ and the other one was ‘Raw Power.’ So I nicked both of those. The opening line is an update of the song ‘Heart Full of Soul’ by The Yardbirds, where he sings, ‘I got a heart full of soul.’ I thought, ‘Well, I don't. I have a heart full of napalm.’ He had a great turn of phrase there, so I just updated it.” “Gimme Danger” “I was trying to sing in more of that Doors style. I had also been influenced by the Stones—they had ‘Gimme Shelter.’ But the song was a genuine observation of myself. I seem to go for the really dangerous chicks, basically—the real troublemakers, the destructive ones. It was basically between that and then singing about being haunted by the PTSD of your drug addictions and failures in the industry, that sort of thing.” “Your Pretty Face Is Going to Hell” “That's an interesting one, because it was written about a girl named Johanna who I was mad at. She also appears in the song ‘Johanna.’ And this was basically, ‘All right, baby, you want to give me shit now? You think you're so great. Well, you just wait until you lose your main weapon.’ It was a very nasty thing to say. But it was originally called ‘Hard to Beat.’ The people at MainMan [management] kept suggesting I call it ‘Your Pretty Face Is Going to Hell,’ but I refused. So they changed it behind my back. Later, I realized they were right to do so. It’s a pretty great title.” “Penetration” “That’s just a steamy sex song. Well, sex with a little drugs mixed in. It’s a feel track. This was the first thing Williamson played for me—the riff to ‘Penetration.’ And I thought, with that approach I could get something really great together with various ups and downs and everything. It was something a little moodier and exciting, kind of even more romantic in a strange way.” “Raw Power” “That was important, because it’s a meat-and-potatoes rock riff, but in hindsight, it sounds almost disturbingly close to [Led Zeppelin’s] ‘Communication Breakdown.’ It’s like ‘Communication Breakdown’ meets ‘Telegram Sam’ by T. Rex. We both loved Bolan—me and James went to see T. Rex at Wembley, and he was rocking. We were very interested in him and what he did. I often forget to credit him, but he had a definite influence on ‘Raw Power.’ He was a little more airy about it—we were not. Lyrically, it’s suggesting that if you stop eating and sleeping, you have a chance to become a really amazing individual.” “I Need Somebody” “This is like what they used to call barrelhouse blues. It’s kind of a rolling blues. You hear a lot of it played by the old pianists, like Albert Ammons. And there's an obscure B-side by Question Mark [Rudy Martinez], who I've always loved, called ‘I Need Somebody,’ but it's a whole different song. The feeling is, ‘I need somebody to work it out. Somebody help me, somebody help...’ And so I thought I could make that my own. But I've always been inspired by him very much.” “Shake Appeal” “I wanted to sing a song based on a little bit of ‘Short Shorts’ or ‘Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini.’ You know, ‘a wiggle when she walks, a wiggle when she talks.’ There’s a million of them, right? There’s another one by Bruce Channel called ‘Hey! Baby’…a lot of those New Orleans songs are like that, but that was just a little too obvious for me. What is it that’s really getting you about this phenomenon of a woman’s walk? Well, it’s the shake. I certainly didn’t wanna sing something like ‘shake, baby, shake’ or anything like that, so I thought ‘Shake Appeal’ would get the point across. And the idea is that the effect it’s having on me is intoxicating, entrancing, irresistible—that sort of thing.” “Death Trip” “Do you know the song ‘Sea Cruise’? ‘Baby, won’t you let me take you on a sea cruise?’ This song is based on the structure of that, but instead of inviting her on a sea cruise, I’ve invited her on a death trip. I love the riff by Williamson on this. We had the seven other numbers done, and I was becoming aware that we were not going to get support from the management, we’re not going to get support from the industry, we’re not going to get support from anyone or anywhere because we fought city hall. So I’m singing with that in mind. I’m saying I’m going to do it to death, basically. That’s what I was facing at the time.”

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