Raw Power is the third studio album by American rock band The Stooges. It was released on 7 February 1973 through Columbia Records. Though not initially commercially successful, Raw Power gained a cult following in the years following its release and, like its predecessor (1970's Fun House), is generally considered an influential forerunner of punk rock.[13]


 [hide*1 Recording history

Recording history[edit]Edit

After their first two albums, The Stooges (1969) and Fun House (1970) were released to little commercial success, The Stooges were in disarray: they had officially broken up, bassist Dave Alexander was fighting alcoholism, and singer Iggy Pop's heroin addiction was escalating prior to the intervention of David Bowie. Iggy later recalled, "Very few people recognized the quality of the Stooges' songwriting, it was really meticulous. And to his credit, the only person I'd ever known of in print to notice it, among my peers of professional musicians, was Bowie. He noticed it right off."[14] Iggy relocated to London, having signed on as a solo artist to MainMan Management (who also handled Bowie) and Columbia Records. In London, Iggy was to write and record an album with James Williamson, who had joined The Stooges as a second guitarist in late 1970. After they couldn't find a suitable English rhythm section, Williamson suggested that former Stooges Ron Asheton and Scott Ashetonfly over and participate in the recording sessions. With Williamson already on guitar, Ron, the group's founding lead guitarist, was relegated to bass, while Scott took up his usual position behind the drum kit.

Iggy said that Columbia executives insisted on two ballads, one for each side of the record; these two were "Gimme Danger" and "I Need Somebody". The album was recorded in London's CBS Studios, from 10 September – 6 October 1972. Iggy produced and mixed the album by himself; unfortunately, his botched first attempt mixed most of the instruments into one stereo channel and the vocals into the other, with little regard for balance or tone quality. Tony DeFries, the head of MainMan, informed Iggy that the album would be remixed by David Bowie. Iggy agreed to this, claiming that "the other choice was I wasn't going to get my album out. I think DeFries told me that CBS refused to release it like that, I don't know",[14] but insisted that his own mix for "Search and Destroy" be retained. Due to budgetary constraints, Bowie remixed the other seven songs in a single day in an inexpensive Los Angeles studio, Western Sound Recorders, in October 1972. Iggy said of the production:

To the best of my recollection it was done in a day. I don't think it was two days. On a very, very old board, I mean this board was old! An Elvis type of board, old-tech, low-tech, in a poorly lit, cheap old studio with very little time. To David's credit, he listened with his ear to each thing and talked it out with me, I gave him what I thought it should have, he put that in its perspective, added some touches. He's always liked the most recent technology, so there was something called a Time Cube you could feed a signal into -- it looked like a bong, a big plastic tube with a couple of bends in it -- and when the sound came out the other end, it sort of shot at you like an echo effect. He used that on the guitar in "Gimme Danger," a beautiful guitar echo overload that's absolutely beautiful; and on the drums in "Your Pretty Face Is Going To Hell." His concept was, "You're so primitive, your drummer should sound like he's beating a log!" It's not a bad job that he did...I'm very proud of the eccentric, odd little record that came out.[14]

Bowie later recalled:

...the most absurd situation I encountered when I was recording was the first time I worked with Iggy Pop. He wanted me to mix Raw Power, so he brought the 24-track tape in, and he put it up. He had the band on one track, lead guitar on another and him on a third. Out of 24 tracks there were just three tracks that were used. He said 'see what you can do with this'. I said, 'Jim, there's nothing to mix'. So we just pushed the vocal up and down a lot. On at least four or five songs that was the situation, including "Search and Destroy." That's got such a peculiar sound because all we did was occasionally bring the lead guitar up and take it out."[15]

Release and reception[edit]Edit

Raw Power was released in America in May 1973 and in the UK the following month as an album by "Iggy and the Stooges", contrasting with the group's first two albums, credited to "The Stooges". The album sleeve comprised a photograph of Iggy taken by rock music photographer Mick Rock. The songs "Search and Destroy" and "Shake Appeal" were both released as singles (the album's title track was released as a single in Japan only). Despite rave reviews, sales of Raw Power were weak, and the album peaked at #182 on the Billboard Pop Albums chart.[16] The group continued touring for about a year, but Columbia dropped their contract. The Stooges were also dumped by MainMan – Tony DeFries lost patience with the band after the large sum of money he advanced to them was bankrolled on drugs. The Stooges broke up in February 1974. After spending time in a drug-fueled stupor in L.A. – and later rehab at the UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute – Iggy Pop re-joined Bowie's entourage, and emerged as a solo artist in 1976.

Music journalist Will Hodgkinson wrote that, while the Stooges' debut album was "charged and brutal garage-rock" and Fun House was "lurid chaos", Raw Power was more musically sophisticated "in its debauchery."[17]

Alternative mixes[edit]Edit

[1][2]Rough Power (1993)

Bomp! (cat# BCD 4049)

Low-fidelity copies of Pop's original mixes circulated among fans for years. In 1993, a selection of these original mixes was released by Bomp Records as Rough Power. Fans and critics generally agreed that the original mixes were interesting, but not necessarily superior to Bowie's efforts. Of the Rough Power release, Iggy has remarked that "what David and I came up with at these sessions was better than that." [14]

In 1996, Columbia Records invited Iggy Pop to remix the entire album for re-release on CD. Iggy says in the liner notes that had he declined, the studio would have remixed it without his blessing. Iggy cited longtime encouragement from fans and peers, the existence of Rough Power, his distaste for how the original 1989 CD release of Raw Power sounded, and the fact that Columbia were going to release the new mix on its sublabel Legacy Recordings as factors that led him to go through with the new mix, which was undertaken at New York's Sony Music Studios in 1996. The remixed edition of Raw Power was released on April 22, 1997. In the album's accompanying liner notes, Iggy states the following:

In retrospect, I think the little touches Bowie put on the mix helped and I think some of the things MainMan did helped, and more than anything else, what the whole experience did was to get me out of Detroit and onto a world stage. And also I learned a helluva lot being over there in England and I started thinking differently. It led to a very ambitious piece of work, and that's fine. But the fact was that neither Bowie's mix nor my previous mix could do justice to the power of the band or even to the legibility of the vocal…I feel that now I have the wherewithall, the position, and the expertise at my disposal to give this thing its due sonically, and I didn't have that before. So it's kind of like I'm finishing that off. I don't think you can beat David's mix, it's very creative. But this is just a simple, straight band mix of a powerful band. I feel like there's a closure on it and that's a nice thing.[14]

On the other hand, some fans – guitarist Robert Quine among them – felt the new remix was as unfaithful to the material as the original 1973 mix, and further criticized the audible digital distortion in the new mix.[18]In the reissued CD's liner notes, however, Pop points out that one of his intentions in doing the new mix was to keep audio levels in the red (which would deliberately cause such distortion) while at the same time making the music more "powerful and listenable". This new version is arguably the loudest album ever, reaching RMS of -4 dB, rare even by today's standards.[19]

James Williamson and Ron Asheton have both stated that they prefer Bowie's original mix of the album to Pop's remixed version.


I personally think [the remixed Raw Power] sucked. I gotta tell ya that I like the IDEA of what [Iggy] tried to do, and I talked to him about it, and there's a lot of factors involved, but at the time, none of us liked Bowie's mix, but given everything, Iggy, when he went in to mix it, he found out that the guy who had recorded it originally had not gotten a lot of level on certain things, like the bass and drums, especially the bass, so he didn't have a lot to work with. Then Iggy, on his mix, he left a bunch of guitar stuff on there that probably shouldn't have been left in, and just odds and ends. Bowie's not my favorite guy, but I have to say that overall, I think he did a pretty good job.[20]


Don Fleming goes, "You know what? When Iggy's Raw Power mix comes out, I'll bet you're gonna go -- we always used to say how bad the original David Bowie mix of Raw Power was -- Fleming's going, "When you hear Iggy's mix, I guarantee you're gonna say, 'Man, remember that great mix that David Bowie did?'" So I heard it, I got the advance copy from his manager, and listened to it. Then I called Fleming and I'm going, "Gee, Don, I just listened to Iggy's mix of Raw Power. Man, I sure loved that old David Bowie mix. Was it ever great."...Basically, all that Iggy did was take all the smoothness and all the effects off James [Williamson]'s guitar, so his leads sound really abrupt and stilty and almost clumsy, and he just put back every single grunt, groan, and word he ever said on the whole fuckin' soundtrack. He just totally restored everything that was cut out of him in the first mix, and I thought, Damn, I really did like the old mix better.[21]

In 2002, Bowie said that his original mix of Raw Power is "the version I still prefer over the later remix – it has more wound-up ferocity and chaos and, in my humble opinion, is a hallmark roots sound for what was later to become punk."[22]

Pop and Bowie's mixes were both remastered in 2012 for a Record Store Day double LP, by Kevin Gray and Mark Wilder, respectively. This remastering was free of clipping.


Despite its weak initial reception, the reputation of Raw Power grew tremendously in subsequent years, and the album's volume and ferocity became benchmarks against which later albums were measured.

Singer and guitarist Kurt Cobain of the band Nirvana wrote in his Journals numerous times that Raw Power was his favourite album of all time. In his list of the top 50 albums he thought were most influential to Nirvana's sound entered in his journal in 1993, "Raw Power" appears in the number one slot.[23] Johnny Marr of The Smiths has also spoken highly of the record, commenting on James Williamson's guitar playing on the album: "I'm his biggest fan. He has the technical ability of Jimmy Page without being as studious, and the swagger of Keith Richards without being sloppy. He's both demonic and intellectual, almost how you would imagine Darth Vader to sound if he was in a band."[24] Steve Jones from the Sex Pistols once claimed that he learned to play guitar by taking speed and playing along to Raw Power.[25]

Henry Rollins of Black Flag has "Search & Destroy" tattooed across his shoulder blades.[26] Former Smiths frontman Morrissey once described the song as "great" and "a very LA song".[27] Motley Crue founderNikki Sixx has cited it as a major influence: "When I was fifteen years old, I remember Iggy and the Stooges’ song 'Search and Destroy' reaching out from my speakers to me like my own personal anthem."

Cee Lo Green cited Raw Power as one of his favorite albums. "The album seems like it's all done in one take. 'Let's do that one, leave it, just try something else'. With his energy on stage, it seems as if the studio was just destroyed after that album - or at least you'd like to believe that".[28]

The album's songs have been frequently covered. Prominent versions include the Dictators', Red Hot Chili Peppers', Dead Boys's, Shotgun Messiah's, and Def Leppard's covers of "Search and Destroy", Guns N' Roses's cover of "Raw Power" (title track) on The Spaghetti Incident?, and Ewan McGregor covering "Gimme Danger" for the film Velvet Goldmine, a movie telling the story of a character based around David Bowie's Ziggy Stardust during the 1970s glam rock era. "Gimme Danger" was also covered by Frank Black for the game Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2. A cover of "Search and Destroy" by Emanuel also appeared on the soundtrack to Tony Hawk's American Wasteland. Additionally, a cover of the album's namesake track "Raw Power" is performed by Romeo Delta in Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty.


Live performances[edit]Edit

In May 2010 Iggy Pop, James Williamson, Mike Watt, Scott Asheton, and Steve Mackay performed Raw Power in its entirety as part of the All Tomorrow's Parties-curated Don't Look Back series.

Track listing[edit]Edit

Original release[edit]Edit

All songs written and composed by Iggy Pop and James Williamson

Side one
No. Title Length
1. "Search and Destroy"   3:29
2. "Gimme Danger"   3:33
3. "Your Pretty Face Is Going to Hell" (originally titled "Hard to Beat") 4:54
4. "Penetration"   3:41
Side two
No. Title Length
5. "Raw Power"   4:16
6. "I Need Somebody"   4:53
7. "Shake Appeal"   3:04
8. "Death Trip"   6:07

Deluxe Edition[edit]Edit

No. Title Length
1. "Search and Destroy"   3:29
2. "Gimme Danger"   3:33
3. "Your Pretty Face Is Going to Hell" (originally titled "Hard to Beat") 4:54
4. "Penetration"   3:41
5. "Raw Power"   4:16
6. "I Need Somebody"   4:53
7. "Shake Appeal"   3:04
8. "Death Trip"   6:07
Disc two
Georgia Peaches (Live at Richards, Atlanta, GA, October 1973)
  1. "Introduction"
  2. "Raw Power"
  3. "Head On"
  4. "Gimme Danger"
  5. "Search and Destroy"
  6. "I Need Somebody"
  7. "Heavy Liquid"
  8. "Cock in My Pocket"
  9. "Open Up and Bleed"
  10. "Doojiman" (outtake from the session for Raw Power)
  11. "Head On (Rehearsal Performance from CBS Studios Rehearsal Tape) "
Disc three
Rarities, Outtakes & Alternatives From The Raw Power Era
  1. "I'm Hungry"
  2. "I Got a Right"
  3. "I'm Sick of You"
  4. "Hey, Peter"
  5. "Shake Appeal"
  6. "Death Trip"
  7. "Gimme Danger"
  8. "Your Pretty Face Is Going to Hell"
Bonus DVD
  • Documentary by Morgan Neville
  • Live performance footage from Festival Planeta Terra, São Paulo Brazil - November 2009

2010 reissue[edit]Edit

A remastered version of David Bowie's original mix along with a second disc of unreleased live tracks and soundchecks, including a live soundboard recording from Atlanta in October 1973, and liner notes written by authorized Stooges biographer Jeffrey Morgan, was released in 2010. A deluxe version was released on 13 April 2010 titled Raw Power: The Masters Edition, consisting of three CDs, one DVD, one 7" vinyl record, a booklet, and a pack of photo prints.

2012 Record Store Day reissue[edit]Edit

Raw Power saw a limited vinyl re-release on Record Store Day on April 21, 2012. The release included two LP's (one containing the remastered 1973 David Bowie mix and the other containing a remastered version of the 1997 Iggy Pop mix) and a sixteen-page commemorative booklet with quotes from the band, pictures of the band from photographer Mick Rock at their infamous King's Cross Cinema show in the summer of 1972, and written pieces by British journalist Kris Needs and rock 'n roll historian Brian J. Bowe.


The Stooges
Additional personnel
  • David Bowie – mixing (1973 version)
  • Bruce Dickinson – executive production on 1997 reissue
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