Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Stooges - Raw Power

I recently came across some CD's that a friend had given me that I didn't have burned into my iTunes yet. Among the music I found was the first three albums by The Stooges (or Iggy and the Stooges as they would come to be known): The Stooges, Fun House, and Raw Power. The first album certainly has its moments, but is brought to a screeching halt by the 10-minute drone fest "We Will Fall" that takes the rest of the album to recover from. Fun House is among the greatest "punk" albums ever made and is something I would recommend to anyone with an interest in such a type of music. Their third album, Raw Power, however, is among the greatest albums of all time, "punk" or otherwise. I say "punk" because that term didn't really exist in our minds when The Stooges were initially together. Their albums came out in 1969, '70, and '73, long before The Ramones, The Sex Pistols and others burst along in the late 70's with what we call punk today. As such, The Stooges can kinda get lost, I feel, as they're not really classic rock, but were ahead of their time as far as punk is concerned (they're lumped into a small sub-genre called protopunk, alongside groups like MC5, The Velvet Underground, and others). I personally decided to lump them in with those they influenced, I hate having too many categories and normally call nearly everyone just a rock band, but for my money only The Ramones' Rocket to Russia can compare to the greatness of Raw Power for the title of "Best Punk Album Ever".

Original guitarist Ron Asheton switched to bass for the album, and he and brother Scott make for one hell of a rhythm section. The brothers' former high school buddy James Williamson had joined the band as guitarist, and thanks to him I'd name Raw Power as one of my favorite guitar albums. The opener "Search and Destroy" is already one of those songs that I had to learn once I'd heard it (I'd heard it before, it's a classic song, but I had no idea what or who it was). But the real star, as it is for most people, is singer Iggy Pop. Part Mick Jagger, part Jim Morrison, Iggy Pop is one of the great front men in all of rock music. His unpredictability onstage is legendary, but has overshadowed what a great singer he was as well. He has a tremendous snarl and rasp throughout The Stooges and Fun House, but the mix on Raw Power (expertly done in just a day by David Bowie) lets his vocals shine through much more clearly and reveal a guy who had more dimension to his voice than he's ever given credit for.

So I'm really geeking out on an album that came out 10 years before I was even born, that just goes to show that great music is timeless, and The Stooges most definitely made great music.

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