on August 1, 2006
Raw Power! Whether Bowie's or Iggy's mix, this album deserves 5 stars and a place on any shelf that contains punk, rock, punk-rock, proto-punk, classic rock or any other kind of rock.
UNFORTUNATELY the "remastered" album in front of you is borderline unlistenable due to The Idiot and the incompetence of the mastering engineer. Judging by the liner notes, Iggy does not know the difference between analog distortion and digital clipping and treated the remaster as if on an analog medium, which is a huge %$&^ing shame given the greatness of the album.
Using analog distortion creatively is an art form, while clipping in the digital realm results in a total loss of acoustic information. If you record analog distortion onto a digital medium and master it correctly, it sounds pretty much identical to the original, but alas instead of pre-mastering 'in the red' on an analog console, some fool let Iggy into the digital mastering toolkit where 'in the red' means something a bit different. It means no dynamic range and heavily clipped peaks (in fact, almost no peaks at all, everything is uniformly loud), which defeats the purpose of using a compact disc entirely.
This album clips more than any album I have had the displeasure of hearing, which distorts several songs (Death Trip, Search& Destroy) into near inaudibility. It is Loud, but white noise or britney mastered to 99dB is also loud. Again, this is due entirely to the inept mastering.
While one cannot help but love Iggy's aggressive impulses, one imagines that he should have been left to master an analog record re-issue and the CD mastering should have been done by someone not under his influence.
There is a reason the volume knob exists, and that reason is so you can TURN IT UP. Sadly, turning it up is almost pointless here.
BUY THIS ALBUM.
But, buy a used copy of the record and record it onto disc, seriously.
Your only other recourse is to record this remastering onto a computer, put it through a software audio editing suite and run a declipping algorithm on it. While it's not a real solution since the information that is clipped is forever lost to you, it does make the album sound much better. A better sounding album sells more copies and will be listened to more often. It's also less likely to wind up in the bargain bin due to terrible mastering.
Try it again Columbia, and give us both mixes while you're at it!
If only the rhino people could get ahold of the tapes like with the first two Stooges albums.
on June 18, 1999
As someone who clung to the original album of Raw Power like a life preserver at one point in my life, I was pleased to see that someone finally took it upon themselves to upgrade the album's sound. But: there are some changes on this album. Most of which I really like: the "1-2-3-4" count into "Shake Appeal"; the new "hey!"s on "Search and Destroy"; the extended ending of "Death Trip". However, the guitar solo on "Raw Power" is NOT the solo that appeared on the original album. Having spent more hours than I care to admit playing that spiraling-out-of-control James Williamson explosion over and over again, I was more than a little dismayed to hear a similar but still different solo on the song I loved so much. And the guitar solo at the end of "Search and Destroy" is mixed way down from the original release. Not like it matters - this is the way Raw Power will be forevermore, and that's alright. The sound is substantially better, especially in the lower frequencies, and the Iggy Pop interview in the liner notes is funny and informative. So: a slight letdown in some ways, but still snarling and alive and revelatory in ways that Limp Biskit won't ever be. Get it now.
on March 24, 2006
I bought this when it first came out in 72, and I pity 14 year old kids today who don't have a record like this "to do all the things that kids aren't supposed to do" to (if that makes any sense). If my old vinyl copy could talk, I'd be in jail for the rest of my life. That is, if I could find the damn thing. And that's a BIG deal, because the remastering of this album completely ruins one of the wildest listening experiences ever created. On the original album, every tune sounded like it was recorded in different venue with a different producer. Every mix was completely different, and by objective standards, unbelievably horrible. By subjective standards, however, the uniquely ridiculous sound of each track made for one of the ten best rock and roll albums ever. "Search and Destroy" was all trebled-out, overdriven Stratocasters and virtually no bass, with an up-front metallic clanking throughout that really hurt the ears, even at low volumes (listen to any track on the Mary Chain's Psychocandy to hear roughly what it used to sound like). Raw Power growled away muddily, with lots more low-end sludge than on this version. Death Trip sounded just like the name implies, with the lead guitar sounding like it was recorded with the mike about an inch away from the amp, and turned up to 11 with an outrageous treble boost. Shake Appeal (which fares best on this CD) sounded like it was recorded in muddy mono, until the up-riff ended, and then the power chords exploded in a huge wall of stereo sound, and then shrank back to mono (the effect was mind-boggling at high volume). But the crown-jewel, the piece-de-resistance, was "Your Pretty Face is Going to Hell." If ever a dirtier, sludgier fast rocker was ever recorded (with Iggy's absurd growling-screeching buried behind the wall of unbelievably distorted guitars and bass)I've never heard it. Just thinking about the way it used to sound after a micro-dot is putting a big smile on my face. But it doesn't sound anything like that on this remaster, nor does any other track sound remotely as good as on the original (with the possible exception of Shake Appeal, which I preferred in the old mix but which has a lot of power in the new version). And unless you've ever heard the original release, you can't possibly imagine the roll that the right mix can play in turning an excellent album into something that changes your life (not always for the "better" in this case). I've been collecting records and CD's compulsively for over 30 years, much to the detriment of floor-space in my domicile, and I've never seen a re-mastering ruin an album the way Raw Power has been eviscerated. The re-mastering is really loud, but that's not the point. I've got a volume control to deal with the relatively low levels of the old masters. For the love of all that's Holy, somebody get ahold of the original masters that were used on the old albums and re-release this thing. Then, kiddies, you're in for some real fun.
on April 16, 2010
The first thing you notice is the guitar; a virtuoso take on the classic trebly Chuck Berry/Keith Richards axis, but with a difference. It abrades against your ear, it's a little too dissonant to be conventional, it feels like a succession of paper cuts, and it has fought for space and beaten out victorious everything else on the tape -- bass, drums, rhythm guitar are reduced to a dull clatter behind the six string eruption. The next thing you notice is the voice, screeching out the lines that provide the title of this review; mixed co-equal with the guitar, it too abrades against the ear, while on key it sounds like its about to shatter, the sound not of a braggart but a warrior too long out on point and about to bust in a million pieces. It's 1973, and welcome to the first few bars of that most aptly titled record Raw Power.
The Stooges story has been told far too many times to be recounted here; suffice to say that by the time of Raw Power they had already broken more barriers in three or four years than any of their contemporaries, fusing psychedelic garage rock, proto-metal,free jazz, and avant-garde performance art out of Artaud's theater of cruelty with an absolute lack of self consciousness, their artier conceits always rooted in the perspective of messed up suburban Detoit high school drop outs too young to buy the false promises of the '60's. To call them punk, which they invented, sells them way short.
By the time they recorded this album, the sheer psychic pressure of their epochal live performances coupled with the world's indifference had led the band to snap -- heroin and recrimination had broken them up. Enter superfan David Bowie, then on the cusp of his Ziggy-era fame, who performed for the Stooges the same act of noblesse oblige he demonstrated to Lou Reed and Mott the Hoople, resurrecting their careers and giving them a chance to record. Cleaned up and reconstituted with new guy/virtuouso guitarist James Williamson on board and sharing the writing burdens, the Stooges went into the studio with actual songs, in contrast to their previous method of jamming while Iggy did his thing until songs emerged out of the muck. But what worked for Lou and Mott did not work for the Stooges.
On the surface, Raw Power sounded like a conventional hard rock album of '73, not the avant garage of the band's previous work. But Iggy's voice is too terrifying to fit that mold -- and the lyrics all convey the impression of a man in a car with no brakes careening down Dead Man's Curve, they are all about impending death, and celebrating it. Most importantly, there's the sound of the album. Until 1997, when Iggy rebuilt the tracks for reissue from the ground up, the officical word was something went horribly wrong in the mix, with Bowie and Iggy each pointing fingers at the other. The rhythm tracks are way in the background, the vocals are alternately too far up front or too recessed, and Williamson's explosive leads bore a hole through the listener's eardrums, as they are so far up in the mix the album sounds like a free-jazz/metal guitar solo with the other elements darting in and out of the background. Humorously, because a generation of postpunk musicians grew up thinking this sound was not bad, but in fact extraordinary, post punk avant garage groups like Sonic Youth and Black Flag deliberately began to emulate the Raw Power mix in the '80's, and a whole lo-fi No Wave movement was born.
Bowie's effort at rehabbing the band was a fiasco -- the record, messed up mix and depraved vision sank like a stone, the band's performances degenerated into fabled brawls with hostile audiences, and the band, ironically clean at the time they made this hellhound-pursued record, sank back into addiction and dissolution, with Iggy eventually homeless and then insitutionalized, with several lost years passing till he rose like a phoenix to reclaim his crown, but now as a solo. Raw Power did the band in, and its very sound forecasts the autodestruction. That's one thing that makes Raw Power special
Like I said, in '97 Ig re-mixed the record for the alt-rock generation, and the result was greeted with hossanahs. Crunching rhythm guitar riffs hitherto unhearable moved to the foreground with the bass and drums; Iggy's voice now had a tremendous presence, and many of his spontaneous grunts, cries, exhortations, vocalise, his famed shamanistic "composing at the mike," was restored. The record now had the sonic ambience of a live band in a room rather than demons clattering in a wind tunnel in one of Hades' dicier neighborhood. Most significantly, Williamson's lead guitar, the elephant in the room on the original album, was restored to parity with the other instruments. The only nay-sayers were the other Stooges, all of whom went on record as saying they detested what Iggy wrought with his tinkering. He made Raw Power into a normal-sounding punk rock record.
Now we can judge for ourselves who was right, Iggy or the Stooges. Sony Legacy has released the original 1973 "Bowie" mix. For years, I too thought the new version was a vast improvement, despite the fact I had grown up on my vinyl copy of the caterwauling original. But a couple of days of deep listening and comparison of the two version has restored the Bowie mix to preeminence. This is not, and never was, a normal record. This is an extreme record, a documentary snapshot of a band on a "death trip" (song title), sounding like they are on the ragged edge of nowhere. Only the original version preserves that deviant, demented quality. Accept no substitutes.
BTW, Sony has generously added a live show from '73 in Atlanta that adds little to the legacy, except for some prime audience-baiting from the Ig; the double-disc is at single disc price, however.
on April 30, 2010
The first disc features the long out-of-print Bowie mix of the album and it never sounded better; certainly, this re-mastering is a vast improvement over the previous CD version, being far clearer and with a better lower-end response than before. Of course, it could never reach the bass intensity of the more readily up until now available Iggy Pop remix from 1997, but this version was way overdue for a face lift and it has finally come to pass.
Which version (Bowie or Pop) is better? The answer to that question will always lie with the beholder. To my mind, both versions are indispensable and now they are both available (if purchased separately) in the best sound possible to date. Sony really dropped the ball on this however. Raw Power clocks in at 34 minutes and only the Bowie version is provided here making for a first CD that is only a little bit over a half hour. With all the space necessary and no licensing problems involved, why is the Pop version not featured here for comparison?
No complaints for this one. So very little of the early live Stooges survives. What does is generally from acceptable to point-blank awful in quality and have been issued as bootlegs or semi-legal releases. This new set finally brings a well-recorded live show into the light after all these years of collecting dust in the Sony warehouse. While it is not quite a "soundboard" super-sounding live recording, it is close enough to hear what the original Stooges sounded like back in the day... far better and best available of any 70s live Stooges recording to date (so stop your bitching). It is a most excellent concert, lasting nearly an hour with Iggy Pop in confrontational fine form. On a technical note, there were some problems with James Williamson's guitar that night during the first 10 minutes or so, but they were resolved and his slash-and-burn pyrotechnics never sounded better.
This disc is finished out with two unreleased tracks: Doojiman and Head On. The former is truly an outtake; recorded at the time the rest of Raw Power was and probably omitted because it didn't "flow" with the rest of the album. That said, the acrobatic Iggy Pop vocal work on this track is probably the most extreme and enjoyable of all studio tracks he ever recorded. The latter track is an outtake from one of the famous CBS sessions with Scott Thurston on piano, recorded subsequent to the release of Raw Power. It does not sound like it has been issued before on one of the many bootlegs from this time period. While a little out of place, it rounds out a fine disc.
Highly recommended to all, completists, fans and newcomers.
For completists, there is yet another CD entitled Rough Power on Bomp Records and featuring very early, pre-Bowie/pre-Pop mixes from early 1972. While the sound quality on this is merely adequate, if you have to have it all, get this too.
on June 25, 2013
I bought this cd for my oldest son Jason on his 16th birthday and since then he has refused to wear a shirt. When I tried to get him to wear a nice striped button-up I bought for sunday mass he snatched it from my hands and wrung it through his buttocks while telling me to "come along on my death trip". I'm worried about his social life as well. He broke up with his girlfriend after telling her that her pretty face was going to hell. Just the other day we tried to go out for a family meal at IHOP and he sliced his torso open with a broken bottle of ketchup and dripped blood all over my husband's Rooty Tooty Fresh and Fruity.
on June 16, 2010
The first disc features the long out-of-print Bowie mix of the album and it never sounded better; certainly, this re-mastering is a vast improvement over the previous CD version, being far clearer and with a better lower-end response than before. Of course, it could never reach the bass intensity of the more readily available Iggy Pop remix from 1997, but this version was way overdue for a face lift and it has finally come to pass.
Which version (Bowie or Pop) is better? The answer to that question will always lie with the beholder. To my mind, both versions are indispensable and now they are both available (if purchased separately) in the best sound possible to date. Here however is the first and greatest example of how Sony dropped the ball. Raw Power clocks in at 34 minutes and only the Bowie version is provided here making for a first CD that is only a little bit over a half hour. With all the space necessary and no licensing problems involved, why is the Pop version not featured here for comparison? Spending all this money for a deluxe package should mean all available material that can fit on the space allotted should have been used.
No complaints for this one. So very little of the early live Stooges survives. What does is generally from acceptable to point-blank awful in quality and have been issued as bootlegs or semi-legal releases. This new set finally brings a well-recorded live show into the light after all these years of collecting dust in the Sony warehouse. While it is not quite a 'soundboard' super-sounding live recording, it is close enough to hear what the original Stooges sounded like back in the day. And it is a most excellent concert, lasting nearly an hour with Iggy Pop in confrontational fine form. On a technical note, there were some problems with James Williamson's guitar that night during the first 10 minutes or so, but they were resolved and his slash-and-burn pyrotechnics never sounded better.
This disc is finished out with two unreleased tracks: Doojiman and Head On. The former is truly an outtake; recorded at the time the rest of Raw Power was and probably omitted because it didn't 'flow' with the rest of the album. That said, the acrobatic Iggy Pop vocal work on this track is probably the most extreme and enjoyable of all studio tracks he ever recorded. The latter track is an outtake from one of the famous CBS sessions with Scott Thurston on piano, recorded subsequent to the release of Raw Power. It does not sound like it has been issued before on one of the many bootlegs from this time period. While a little out of place, it rounds out a fine disc.
Sony really drops the ball again here with the track selection. The first glaring example is the inclusion of three already available songs from the Pop mix of Raw Power and labeled as 'bonus' tracks. No they are not and they constitute 3 of 8 tracks on this CD. Again, that entire version should have filled out disc 1 and they are pointless here on disc 3. The remaining tracks are only two tracks from the CBS rehearsals (previously available on bootleg/semi-legal releases, albeit in better sound here) as well as three more outtakes from the actual Raw Power sessions. Of import is Hey Peter (another outtake), an early version of Penetration, and an alternate mix of Death Trip. A note within the accompanying book states some of these tracks came from a recently found tape. Well then, why the hell wasn't more of this material included here instead what ended up on it? All that said, the aforementioned Raw Power outtakes and alternate mixes are really good and makes for a huge consolation prize.
It's only 40 minutes long and has virtually no vintage footage (but as far as I know, there is little more than a few minutes here and there of The Stooges from the 1970s. As a documentary, it is quite satisfactory and inclusion of live material from 2009 (the first to be released with James Williamson on guitar after all these years) is good. Be aware however, Iggy calls up audience members to dance on the stage with him and you cannot see the band at all during the course of this one and only performance clip from the show. Strange choice. Cannot help but wonder why more recent live material was included however, especially considering the fact there was room for it on this short DVD.
The whole thing is packaged in a 7" x 7" box, made to look like a well-worn original LP. That's a nice touch. Inside, the CDs are slipped into a 7" x 7" folder with a few photographs printed on the outside. While not really a major quibble, accessing the CDs is not all that easy. There is also a 48-page book of the same size with a number of essays, quotes from contemporaries and those subsequently influenced by Raw Power, and many never before seen Mick Rock photographs originally taken for the album's release. This is a good thing. Furthermore, there are 5 'glossy' photograph reproductions included. The box is rounded out by a reproduction of the original Raw Power b/w Search and Destroy 7" single as it was released in Japan. Overall, very nice packaging.
So, is it worth buying Raw Power yet again and if so, which version... this or the 'budget' 2-CD version (without Disc 3 bonuses, the DVD and the packaging)? Well, for any long-term Stooges fan or completist, the answer is without question, this version as it contains enough 'new' material to certainly make it a necessity. The packaging is impressive too. But those on budget will find the meat of the matter on Disc 2 available both here and on the lower-priced issue.
Highly recommended to all... both old Stooges fans and newcomers alike.
For completists, there is yet another CD entitled Rough Power on Bomp Records and featuring very early, pre-Bowie/pre-Pop mixes from early 1972. While the sound quality on this is merely adequate, if you have to have it all, get this too.
on May 26, 2009
As little as I know about the dynamics of digital audio, one thing is certain: If you crank your levels up to 11 and clip your waveforms, you will lose the dynamic range of the music. Yes, surprisingly enough to some of you, even The Stooges had dynamic range! When you clip, everything ends up sounding like bad teeny-bopper corporate punk on FM radio. So who can tell what the mix sounds like when it's impossible to hear it through the travesty of bad mastering?
Put this CD in your computer and view any of the songs in a waveform editor. There is digital clipping throughout. It's a mushy, noisy mess. And before you start thinking that the Stooges were all about "noise," understand that you won't be able to fully enjoy any of the musical "noise" -- all those wonderful human sounds are crammed together in a massive gooey hairball of clipped digital dreck. It sucks!
Here's my sad story. I had Raw Power on vinyl for a long time and, though I was never crazy about the Bowie mix, I still loved the songs and adored the album. When the remix came out in '97, I naturally picked it up. After all, I always wanted the album on CD and here was the opportunity to get it remixed. Big mistake! It ruined the album for me for over ten years. I recently found the original Columbia CD (cat. no. CK 32111, for those in search of it) with the Bowie mix and my love for the album has been restored. But it burns me up that it's been ten years without this album for me. I'm glad to have it back.
I give the album 5 stars, the remix 0. That averages 2.5 and I'm rounding it down to 2.
on February 14, 2003
You can tell by the cover art and song list that this is not the original "Raw Power" albumn. In fact, all of this has been released before on cds like "Rough Power", "Rubber Legs", and "Head On", ie, alternate versions and demos recorded at the famous "Detroit Rehearsals". For me, the pleasure of finding something like this to collect still outweighs being annoyed at having to buy it, but for you it depends on how much you already have, and how much you want. The music of course is 5 stars, but i gave it 3 as a warning.
on April 24, 2010
Finally I can finally listen to my favorite album the way it is supposed to sound. This new re-issue sounds almost identical to the original 1973 version and nothing like the 1997 version...thank God.
I never understood why everyone (rock critics) where so whiny about the "Bowie Mix". Way to much was made of it's alleged inferiority. If it was so bad then why is this one of the most beloved records of all time? I thought the mix was highly creative and made the band sound sinister, mysterious and electrifying. I really love how this album has a sense of urgency and it continually surprises you. And that's exactly what resurfaces in this newest release. "Raw Power" is a phenomenal record.
The live disk "Georgia Peaches" is easily the best Stooges live album besides "Metallic K.O" but "Georgia Peaches" has much better sound quality. This is the first and only recording you can actually....clearly hear Ron Asheton play bass on. Ron's bass style and attack rivals and sometimes overpowers James Williamson guitar and the result is thrilling. The band sounds really tight and the crowd is engaged making this a stand alone Stooges record and not unnecessary fluff or filler.
And we get a fully mixed outtake "Doojiman" form the original Raw Power. The Stooges had a habit of ending there albums with a free form jam and "Doojiman" is very much like "L.A. Blues" or "We Will Fall", and I wish they would have left it on the original record. Stooges fans will already be familiar with the version of "Head On" as it has appeared on previous compilations.
The "Raw Power" re-issue is well thought out and doesn't disappoint.