I’ve just got the Legacy edition of Raw Power, one of my all time favourite albums. As I’ve written previously, my dear friend Veronica Peyton turned me onto it, shortly after it’s release in 1973. Iggy was sort of rescued by David Bowie. Bowie obviously knew Iggy was a unique talent, and got him signed to Mainman, Tony De Fries management, who also handled Bowie(and Lou Reed in Europe for a while, and Mott the Hoople). Ig mixed the album originally, but did a “US Beatles in stereo” type mix, with the vocals from one channel and the instruments from another. Mainman threatened to drop him unless he let Bowie mix it, which he did at Western sound studios, Hollywood. A bit like the makeover Bowie and Ronno gave Lou Reed with “Transformer” in 1972.
I used to have a 10″ vinyl bootleg of the pre Bowie mix, but I think that got left with Kat Young in Fort Lauderdale in 1990. I can’t recall it being remarkable. There was a New York Dolls boot released at the same time, on 10″ vinyl. It just says “Live in LA” on the sleeve. I do recall hearing Raw Power, well if not the first time then certainly one of the first times, on Veronica’s old Dansette. He looked real scary on the cover, dark, druggy and asexual, maybe glam because of the silver trousers and make up, but he wasn’t a cousin of the Sweet or the Glitter band!
But the music was just so hard, metallic, urgent and aggressive. And the opening chords of “Search and Destroy” surely were the Punk archetype, tho’ a good deal more complicated, with Iggy’s just escaped from an asylum but cool and nonchalant vocals and screams, worthy of Johnny Burnette. With a whole heap of Jim Morrison(his biggest inspiration to become a singer, after seeing the Doors in 1968)crooner style. Think “Riders on the storm” and “Gimme Danger”……….? And as for the “Hurrr!” at the start of Raw Power, well I stole it and made it my own with the Rats and the Brigade. And when Ig says “how my doing?” on “Raw Power”, well that’s just channeling Howlin’ Wolf, the first of many I’ve heard using that aside.
I’ve seen Iggy many times. At the Rainbow theatre in Finsbury park, with David Bowie on keyboards, on the 5th of March, 1977. The band launched into Raw Power, and Iggy cartwheeled onstage with what looked like a horse’s tail sticking out from his bum! And Bowie looked totally Station to Station/Thin White Duke, wearing a Fedora hat and smoking lots of ciggies. I saw him at Essex uni with the Accidents with Glen Matlock on bass, on the Instinct tour with Andy McCoy both in the UK and US, and I saw the Stooges in 2007, at V, with the mindblowingly brilliant Ron Ashton. Ron totally rocked out. Wailing wah-wahed psychedelic solos and the meanest, crunchy-est power chords known to man, truly a guitar God and a totally unique player.
Will met John Lydon at an Iggy gig, probably the March ’77 gig. He was standing at the bar with his minder, talking to Iggy. Will approached Johnny and got invited back to his house, where much cavorting ensued. Over to you Will……
Of course we have been tantalised before, with Iggy’s remix in 1997. I was very excited at the prospect, but actually for the most part it’s painful listening. The drums and bass are buried, the guitar and vocals totally dominate, and actually seem to get louder! Yeah it’s great to hear those sabres rattling, and the extra yelps, and some extra guitar accidents and noise. But generally the digital clipping doesn’t add anything but ear bleed. Sorry Jim……..
So anyway, was Sony going to make another balls up re-ish, as in Pacific Ocean Blue?
And incidentally, I’ve figured what Capitol are doing with the Beach Boys archive. They are waiting til the Beach Boys core audience is dead, then they’re going to taunt us from beyond the grave, “See, we issued all the stuff you were gagging for, and now you’re dead and you can’t buy it! Ha ha ha!” Bastards. This is what comes of people that don’t like music running record companies. No worries Capitol, there’s a new kid in town, it’s called the Internet. You should check it out, it might be an insightful experience for you. Oh you have? And you’re suing some housewife in Illinois for file sharing. Great. Manly even.
So anyway, what’s the new remaster like? Well I’m very happy to say, it sounds fabulous! The major thing for me is that they’ve kept everything as it should be with the Bowie mix, but given it the mid range frequencies missing from the vinyl. I dug out my original vinyl of “Raw Power”(which has “this record belongs to Veronica Peyton” written on the inner, in ink pen)and pretty much listened to both versions side by side. The overall effect is the guitars are much clearer, the bass and drums sound wonderful, and Ig sounds better than ever. A layer of mud has been taken off the sound, to excellent results. Top marks to the people who did the remastering, Bruce Dickinson and Robert Matheu.
As for the bonus disc, despite what you may have read, the quality of the live show I don’t think is any better than the numerous bootlegs, i.e. low-fi and mono sounding, avoid! And I think I’ve heard “Dojiman” on boot before, and that and “Head on” makes me think a big “so f*****g what?”.
Far better to check out the boot and the Youtube footage(presumably leaked by the Stooges camp?)of the San Paulo show on the 7th of November 2009. There’s an incendary version of “Cock in my pocket” which totally kicks.
I read a review of the Stooges playing “Raw Power” at the Hammersmith Odeon/Apollo/whatever the flavour is this week, and the wag reviewer said Ig looked like a “Chamois leather chimpanzee”, with a slight paunch. Of course the Ig lives in FLA now, sensible chap, and has a perma tan, but I thought it was a funny and appropriate discription. But I tell ya, if I look half as good as Iggy when I’m in my 60’s I will be eternally grateful to whatever God I should be eternally grateful to!!!
And of course James Williamson rejoining the band was my idea, just check Mojo’s online tributes to Ron Ashton……….