Iggy and The Stooges - Raw Power - Review
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critics' view

Legacy isn’t something that comes overnight. For all Iggy Pop’s rhetoric surrounding his latest reunion with The Stooges, the fact remains that whatever he might have thought of Raw Power when it finally emerged, spitting blood and teeth, in 1973, he could have had no idea exactly how long the legacy of what has become known as one of the finest rock records ever released would last.

And in that sense, I’m done reviewing the ‘legacy edition’ of Raw Power already. The record speaks, or rather howls, for itself, and the addition of a thousand words to the reams of prose dissecting, fawning and investigating this most feral of albums seems almost pointless. Bluntly, if you consider yourself in any way interested in rock music and don’t already own this album, you’re doing yourself a rather large disservice.

Because if you don’t already own this album, you haven’t heard the way James Williamson’s guitar lurches out of the original mix of ‘Search and Destroy’, clawing at your ankles, exactly in tune with Iggy’s threatening catcalls. “I’m a street walkin’ cheetah with a heart full of napalm” would sound borderline ridiculous if it didn’t feel like it was being cooed by a man who genuinely believes it. And you probably haven’t experienced the paranoia seeping out of ‘Gimme Danger’, a psychotic trip into psychedelia if there ever was one, Iggy’s terrifyingly unhinged personality never sounding more seductive. “There’s nothing left alive, just a pair of glassy eyes” he cooes over one of the greatest hooks ever written, concealed beneath a veil of guitar squall and that shaking, sweating beat. And you definitely haven’t felt the voltage on your stereo surge as the title track kicks into gear following an intro that appears to be composed of a man throwing up. You haven’t felt the entire album catch fire as Williamson hijacks ‘Death Trip’ and takes it careering down an unmarked dirt track, before the whole station wagon flips over in a burst of flame, scree, shredded feedback and howling.

All that remains, remastered, but essentially unchanged, as this Legacy Edition is a faithful one: the original, much bemoaned, but undoubtedly superior Bowie version is retained over Iggy’s 1996 reworking. And that’s important: Raw Power was ugly, still is ugly and shall remain ugly for years to come. It wears its flaws and scars like a badge of honour, which is why it’s not only better than Fun House, but also why it’s better than Kick Out The Jams, and even why it’s still better than almost every ‘rock’ record released year on year. Concisely, it’s a perfect record.

Philip Bloomfield
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Drowned in Sound, sometimes abbreviated to DiS, is a UK-based music webzine financed by artist management company Silentway. Founded by editor Sean Adams, the site features reviews, news, interviews, and discussion forums.
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