RAW POWER – Rough Power
In series such as The Iguana Chronicles – it was true of the Pebbles Series and the Highs in the Mid-Sixties Series as examples – Bomp! Records tends to release albums in batches rather than one at a time. Along with the inconsistent catalogue numbers, trying to decide the order that the albums were released is very difficult.
Based upon the Discogs listings, the earliest album is Rough Power; Discogs shows a 1994 date for the earliest copies, while Allmusic has a release date of January 30, 1995. The back page of the CD booklet has a list of 5 other releases in The Iguana Chronicles; though they are not all marked that way (at least in early copies), in order they are the 7” EP I’m Sick of You, the reissue as a 10” EP of Jesus Loves the Stooges, the 7” single of I Got a Right and the 12” single of I Got a Right, the Kill City CD, and the 10” vinyl edition of Rough Power.
* * *
As implied by the name, Rough Power includes the original mixes of most of the songs from Raw Power (and in the same order): “Search and Destroy”, “Gimme Danger”, “Hard to Beat (Pretty Face)”, “Penetration”, “Raw Power”, “I Need Somebody”, and “Death Trip”. The third track was originally called “Hard to Beat”, while its name on the official Raw Power album is “Your Pretty Face is Going to Hell”. According to the song listings, these songs were recorded on March 10, 1972 and April 10, 1972.
The only Raw Power song that is not included is “Shake Appeal”, but there are two other mixes of this song later in the CD; and “Shake Appeal” is well represented on another Iguana Chronicles album as discussed below. However, it is still hard to understand why the full album would not have been presented by, say, including the mix of “Shake Appeal” that is provided near the end of the CD.
The liner notes on the back tray card have this description: “Raw Power. The brutal third album that closed the Stooges’ career and fueled the beginnings of punk rock. A true milestone. But . . . it was not the album the Stooges wanted you to hear.
“Although toned down from still more murderous demos (see I Got a Right, BMP 12139 [the 12” single version]), the album delivered by the Stooges put fear in the hearts of record execs, who in turn put David Bowie in the studio to redo the whole thing. The results, while great, were a far cry from what Raw Power started out to be.”
For myself, I have not yet retrieved my copy of Raw Power from the albums that went through Hurricane Katrina, so it is hard for me to compare Raw Power and Rough Power. However, I am much more familiar with the Stooges songs now than I was when I got the original album. This is not an anarchic mess by any means (and there is some of that elsewhere on the Iguana Chronicles albums); Rough Power presents a professionally finished album that could certainly have been released just like this. I am delighted to have it in my collection.
* * *
The back tray card also says, “Guaranteed Bowie-free!!” and includes a small photo of David Bowie in a red circle with a line through it. However, the point of Rough Power is not to trash the work that Bowie did on Raw Power but to provide an alternative presentation of the classic album. After all, had David Bowie not personally intervened to revive the Stooges, all we would have are the first two albums; Raw Power and virtually all of the music in The Iguana Chronicles would not exist at all.
In a long essay in the booklet for Rough Power that includes an interview with guitarist/bassist Ron Asheton, Frank Meyer says of David Bowie’s involvement: “Finally . . . Iggy brought the tapes to [David] Bowie in L.A. for remixing and mastering. Bowie’s mix turned out to be very different than the original Stooges mix. He buried the drums and bass, took out backup vocals, percussion and keyboard parts, and brought the lead guitar up in the mix. While the band was not happy with it, CBS [Records] was thrilled that [Raw Power] was produced by Ziggy Stardust himself, and felt it would boost sales. Although Bowie’s mix stands the test of time and, in fact, adds to the overall originality of the album, it’s very interesting to hear some of the Stooges’ original attempts.”
* * *
Not long after Rough Power came out, as I mentioned in my last post, a new edition of Raw Power was released in 1997 by Columbia Records with a new mix in 1996 by Iggy Pop, Bruce Dickinson, and Danny Kadar. A short note by Iggy Pop on the back tray card says: “People kept asking me – musicians, kids I would see, ‘Have you ever thought about remixing Raw Power?’ Everything’s still in the red, it’s a very violent mix. The proof’s in the pudding.”
I also found a quote from Iggy Pop in the Wikipedia article that was taken from the liner notes of the new mix of Raw Power that was released in 1997: “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 [David] Bowie. He noticed it right off.”
* * *
But that’s not all; as I have said before, when you get an album from Bomp! Records, you get your money’s worth. Rough Power also includes the complete broadcast in early 1973 by WABX radio of Ann Arbor, MI (including commentary by DJ’s Mark Parento and Dennis Frawley) after they were furnished with some very early recordings of some of the Raw Power songs that had apparently been smuggled out of the recording studio. The broadcast was made prior to the release of Raw Power. The songs and portions of the broadcast had been previously released on bootleg records in Europe, but this is the first presentation of the entire broadcast, as taken for the first time from the original master tape.
Presented during the WABX broadcast, and interspersed with discussion (and a lot of apologies about how bad they sound), six of the songs from Raw Power – “I Need Somebody”, “Hard to Beat”, “Death Trip”, “Raw Power”, “Search and Destroy”, and “Shake Appeal” – are followed by “Not Right”, with the latter song identified as a “previously unknown outtake”.
To call these recordings “mixes” of any kind is probably a compliment that they do not deserve; much of the music is almost unintelligible, and in more than one case, I could not recognize the song at all even though I had the song listing to go by. However, they are a fascinating glimpse into the earliest versions of these amazing songs; and at least for the people in Ann Arbor – the hometown of the Stooges – getting to hear any new Stooges material three years since the previous album, Fun House came out would be considered a blessing.
Rough Power closes with three other mixes by the Stooges of “Raw Power”, “Shake Appeal” and “Search and Destroy” that possibly date from November 28, 1972.
The vinyl edition of Rough Power has eight songs that are evidently the same as the early tracks on the Rough Power CD, plus “Shake Appeal” and “Not Right” but not “Gimme Danger”.
* * *
I also have the 10” vinyl EP of the Stooges album Rough Power that has two of the mixes from the CD – “Search and Destroy” (from the beginning of the CD) and “Raw Power” (near the end of the CD) – plus “Gimme Danger” (the April 10, 1972 version as opposed to the March 10, 1972 version on the CD) and “Hard to Beat” (from the November 28, 1972 mixes where the final three songs on the Rough Power CD were taken). The latter two versions are not available elsewhere.