Some re-issues or anniversary-edition re-releases of albums reek of cashing in,
of finding one more way to make you pay twice, or three times, for the same
thing you probably already own on vinyl and CD.
But the April 22
re-release of Iggy and the Stooges' seminal 1973 album Raw Power seeks
to right what many Stooges fans have considered the cardinal sin of
Stoogedom, the dreaded David Bowie mix of the album.
Legend has it that
the band's label at the time, Columbia Records, rejected the mix of the album
submitted by Iggy Pop. The volatile singer then saw the tapes transferred over
to David Bowie's control, who remixed it with what some have called a creaky,
fragile sound that had nothing to do with the band's raucous punk sound.
(Ironically, just a few years later, it was Bowie who shepherded Pop through
his critically-acclaimed early solo albums, The Idiot and Lust for
The digitally-remixed CD retains the original's eight-song
sequence, but restores the proper endings to several tracks that were faded-out
and features rare photos and an interview with Pop, although no bonus tracks.
In the booklet, Pop says of the album, "There's a quirky, odd charm to the
original, like a car you have to crank up to start, and that's a beautiful
thing, and I like that. But this is more like a '90's version, an end of the
millennium version. This will become the version that people will know, and I'm
fine with that. 'Cause when you put it on your speaker it'll knock you down,
you can hear the band and it's very powerful."
And, in an extremely
unscientific test in the ATN laboratory, Pop's assertion couldn't have rang
more true. We located a CD version of the original mix and played it
side-by-side with the new Iggified version. As the saying goes, "the highs were
higher, the lows lower" and for the first time since hearing one of the legion
of bootleg versions that have been circulating for years, Raw Power was
full of just that, raw fucking power. In fact, it seemed like it was all I
could do to keep turning it down for fear it would blow the speakers and get
the dogs to howling. James Williamson's guitar (he took over for Ron Asheton
when the group got back together, moving Asheton to bass) burned with an
intensity that was muted and less jagged on the original and you could finally
get a sense for the primal, heavy sound of the Asheton rhythm section, with
Scott Asheton on drums. I'll probably keep both copies of the album, but I know
which one I'll grab when I need an electrified jolt to the brain.