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Friday, August 26, 2011

100 Records that Shook The World, #37

Raw Power (LP)

Iggy and The Stooges

Raw Power was the third Stooges album and pretty much got ignored by all save a relatively small group of hardcore fans when it was released in 1973. Among that rabid fan base were a few musicians that went on to create punk rock. The album, then, can be considered a true proto-punk article and Iggy truly earns the title of Godfather of Punk.

It has become one of the most influential rock albums ever, with musicians as diverse as Johnny Marr, Kurt Cobain and even Cee Lo Green citing it as one of their favourites. Most of them comment on not only how brilliant the lyrics are, how amazing the guitar playing is, and how powerful the album is, but also how fragile and 'rickety' it sounds. It's almost as if the band just played everything in one take and moved on to the next track. The truth is somewhat different.

After their first two LPs The Stooges had essentially broken up. Iggy's heroin habit was out of control. Bassist Dave Alexander was struggling with alcoholism. Iggy moved to London and was signed to Bowie's MainMan management. James Williamson, who had joined The Stooges as a second guitarist, was to join Iggy in London and record an album of new material. However, after unsatisfactory attempts to find an English rhythm section, Williamson suggested that former Stooges Scott and Ron Asheton join them in London. They flew in, and with Ron relegated to bass (he was the original lead guitarist) and Scott back in the drum seat they went into the studio.

Iggy produced it himself, in a 24-track studio. He only used three of the tracks - himself on one, the band on another, and the third reserved for lead guitar. Tony DeFries was the head of MainMan at the time and told Iggy that he had to let Bowie remix it or it would not get released. So into the studio they went again, Bowie and Iggy, and on hearing the tapes, Bowie reportedly declared, "Jim - there's nothing to mix". So he just went through the tracks one by one, tweaking the levels here and there, adding echo on certain parts, until they were both satisfied. The result was a classic LP and the lifelong friendship between Bowie and Pop.


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