Jason “Ginchy” Kottwitz: What can I say that has not already been said about Raw Power? Has an album ever been more appropriately named? The third studio album from the Stooges, rebranded Iggy & the Stooges with the addition of guitarist James Williamson, tops my list of greatest albums of all time. Given that multiple mixes of the LP have been done since the album first dropped in 1973, I want to be clear that I strictly listen to the David Bowie mix after putting an ear on all the alternative mixes. By today’s standards, the mix may seem a bit unorthodox, but I would challenge anyone to cite an album that has more organic energy or character. This proto-punk classic laid some of the groundwork for the late ’70s punk revolution that would hit a few years after its release.
Raw Power is characterized by its stripped-down, barbaric minimalist approach as opposed to a more structured format. It harbors shrill guitars, pounding drums, and Iggy’s signature snarling voice alongside his unpredictable presence, culminating in the ultimate rock n’ roll free-for-all. Given that I’m a guitar player, I immediately became obsessed with the album’s guitar tone that was captured on tape. When I throw on the record, it all seems to jump right off the needle, and if I shut my eyes, it sounds like the band is playing in the corner of my bedroom. Armed with a 1968 Cherry sunburst Les Paul Custom and cranked Vox AC30s, James Williamson managed to find every nook and cranny of space within the music and fill it with some of the most brutal and abrasive guitar licks I have ever heard.
As a songwriter, the Iggy Pop/James Williamson songwriting team provided me with everything I wanted in a front-to-back album. All killer, no filler. Clocking in at just under 34 minutes, the album kicks off with “Search and Destroy” and sets the tone for the remainder of the record. Along this aurally punishing ride that includes heaters like “Raw Power,” “Your Pretty Face is Going to Hell,” and “Death Trip,” the band manages to seamlessly weave in more dynamically diverse tracks such as “Gimme Danger,” “Penetration,” and “I Need Somebody.” A true masterpiece album that is revered by its contemporaries. Anything else I could say about this record would be bloviating.
After spinning this record countless times throughout the years, it was inevitable that Raw Power would have an impact on my songwriting and guitar playing. While my music is not a carbon copy, some of my favorite elements of this record are present in my own recordings. You can be the judge of that by checking out my latest recordings with the Oxys on our new album Generation Irrelevant, or on the debut album, A Date With The Oxys. Both are out now on Dead Beat Records.
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