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Raw Power

by The Stooges

Released February 7, 1973 via Columbia Records

Reviewed February 22, 2023

Top tracks (based on community voting)
Search and Destroy (88%), Gimme Danger (59%), Your Pretty Face Is Going to Hell (53%)

With their third and final album (we don’t talk about those two post-2000s records), The Stooges—or Iggy and The Stooges as they’re credited here—didn’t just fan the flames of punk, they doused them in gasoline and lit the match. It’s been fifty years since its release, but you’d still be hard-pressed to find an album title that is so direct and accurate to the music contained within; Raw Power gives you nothing less than its namesake.

Raw Power came at a strange time for The Stooges. Their first two albums—while now revered as seminal punk records—were ignored, dismissed, or panned by most critics of the time. Almost all of the band, with the exception of guitarist Ron Asheton, were struggling with heroin addiction. Iggy Pop often had trouble even standing up, let alone performing, due to his severe drug abuse. They went through some lineup changes, but ultimately, Elektra Records dropped them from their roster and The Stooges announced their breakup in 1971.

Iggy Pop went became good friends with David Bowie, who would not only go on to mix Raw Power, but was instrumental in helping Pop get a deal with Columbia Records. Guitarist James Williamson—who joined shortly before The Stooges’ inital breakup—would be joined by the return of founding members Ron (bass) and Scott (drums) Asheton to round out Iggy and The Stooges.

With James Williamson in the fold and co-writing all eight tracks alongside Iggy Pop, his importance to The Stooges’ comeback record is immeasurable. The band’s first two albums sought to replicate their live performances with a mixture of groove-heavy rock n’ roll and improvised jam sessions. Raw Power offers up more structure, with the guitar work of Williamson being just as much at the heart of Raw Power as Iggy Pop’s commanding vocal presence.

Whether he’s firing off riffs or squeezing in another solo, there’s no better descriptor for Williamson’s playing than raw. Not raw in the sense of underdeveloped—in fact, it’s the furthest from that—but raw in that unrelenting, you can feel it your bones type of raw. It also just so happens to be the loudest and most distorted in any mix you can listen to.

And of course, what else could Iggy Pop as a singer if he was anything but ferocious? Defiant and aggressive is just the surface of Pop’s M.O. Raw Power is sleazy, rebellious, and restless at every turn. It’s a roundhouse kick to the head followed by a spit in the face. You can hear Iggy Pop sing on the two Columbia Records-mandated “ballads” that are “Gimme Danger” and “I Need Somebody,” but you’re more likely to hear him growl, howl, snarl, or scream until you think his throat is bleeding.

Raw Power is a one-of-a-kind record that is loud, filled with attitude—and to put it plainly—as kickass as it gets. – Dominick (9.5/10)

Iggy and the Stooges trailblazed a raucous lane in music history. Their initial three album run of the self-titled debut, Fun House, and Raw Power threatened to shake the foundations; however, they largely went over the industries head and under the radar. That was, until time spoke up. We all know that time will eventually tell. Raw Power is the perfectly titled third studio album by the band. Raw being precisely what the project is, and Power being the sheer force of the chaos behind the sound of the band at the time. A lawlessness hovered at hand. A complete lack of order found itself deep within the psyche of The Stooges. On the edge of an apocalypse everything seems so sane. Screws were loose, unwinding, and coming completely undone. Raw Power shrieks with violence. It radiates a feeling of “control has been lost, only mayhem remains.” – Peter (8.5/10)

Jared: 10/10 | Dominick: 9.5/10 | Cam: 8.8/10 | Peter: 8.5/10 | Pax: 8.2/10

Community Reviews:

If I could choose every song as my favorite on Raw Power, I would. It's probably the greatest punk album ever, and it came out before punk. It has easily the punchiest hard rock songwriting and sound of its time; its influence is also obvious. A seminal entry into the genre, and is arguably grandfather to the entire genre. An essential listen for any music fan. – Stew (10/10)


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