FIRST IMPRESSIONS Volume 41: The Stooges – Raw Power

FIRST IMPRESSIONS Volume 41: The Stooges - Raw Power

FIRST IMPRESSIONS Volume 41: The Stooges – Raw Power

This is the forty-first entry of my blog series ‘First Impressions.’ In each entry of the series I write about discovering an influential or genre-classic album for the first time and then write about that experience in a semi-planned, semi-stream of consciousness manner that is less helpful than a traditional album-review, but which does contain more personal flavour.

I prefer my reviews to be serious and informative. ‘First Impressions’ allow for a more director’s commentary approach. I can be silly and talk bollox, or make points that only a handful of people will understand. Usually I will deliver insights into my history with similar music as well as into how my mind works and how both of these things change over time. You will have to either possess a fairly detailed understanding of Rock and Metal history and Subgenre conventions or have a second tab open at Wikipedia to fully follow every single point that I make, but don’t let that put you off…I’m not honestly expecting you to know every single riff or tone I’ll point out off by heart.

If you want your own First Impressions article done, just suggest it in the comments. I’ll give anything a shot.

This entry will cover Raw Power by The Stooges; the third studio outing from the band that inspired a lot of the Punk movement, and lots of rock and metal bands ever since.

What do I know about The Stooges? I know they had a critically panned reunion album and there’s a 2nd one out this year. I’ve heard Slayer’s cover of ‘I Wanna Be Your God’ and the original ‘I Wanna Be Your Dog’ from televisual ubiquity as well. Apparently Nirvana covered it too, but I don’t remember ever hearing that. The song, I kind of don’t like and do like. I feel the same about the unrelated, except for in some twisted-connection-of-my-own-making, songs ‘Wild Thing’ ‘Born To Be Wild’ and ‘Children Of The Revolution,’ in that sometimes I hear them and just want to groan and sometimes I can separate myself from my memories and the notion that its overplayed, and just try it out again, but even then, I only like it less than half of the time.

I’ve heard Rage Against The Machine cover ‘Down on the Street’ too, but I couldn’t for the life of me hum you how it goes. Its no ‘Maggie’s Farm’ or ‘Pistol Grip Pump’ I guess, or it’d have stayed in my memory along with those Renegades tracks.

Same goes for Guns N Roses covering ‘Raw Power.’ I’ve never got along with The Spaghetti Incident to be honest, I never gave it a fair chance, all I know is that the two only songs I listen to from it are ‘New Rose’ and ‘Attitude.’ I think I just disliked ‘Since I Don’t Have You’ so much I never really was able to concentrate on the record. Or maybe its just not good. I’ll probably give it a listen again after this, just out of curiosity.

Iggy Pop on his own, I remember being talked about in Trainspotting, having the ‘Lust For Life’ video with Trainspotting footage and hearing that song way, way too much as it was so, so, so overplayed on music television the whole time when I was really into it, sort of 2000-2005, I think it used to never be off Kerrang TV at the start especially. Now all I really think about him as, is the car insurance puppet. Maybe he also comes up in talk or photo form in the film Juno.

I’ve also heard Monster Magnet cover the Stooge’s ‘1970.’ That’s not surprising really, seeing as almost everything I’ve ever read about Monster Magnet state that they sound like a mixture of Hawkwind and The Stooges. What made me check out this album in the first place is that Monster Magnet cover a song from it called ‘Gimme Danger’ and I love the Monster Magnet cover so much I decided to try out the original, but I’m an albums person rather than a singles person, so here we are…

Anyway. I’ve watched a lot of music documentaries that talked about the influence of the Stooges on punk, grunge, rock and metal though. Usually mentioned alongside the MC5. I actually bought these Stooges albums alongside the MC5’s debut, so linked are they in my mind (and hey, both Monster Magnet and Rage Against The Machine also cover the MC5 so they probably link them together too.


It opens with a song called ‘Search And Destroy.’ I can immediately hear Stoner Rock in its fuzz, especially in the lead line. I can hear punk, specifically the Sex Pistols in the pre-chorus, the guitar bit with ‘Somebody Gotta Save My Soul’ in it.
Iggy’s vocals surprise me. They’re very clean, melodic and almost feminine. Nothing about the vocals in this track remind me of either John Lydon or Dave Wyndorf.

It’s a very enjoyable song.Well, maybe that’s too far. But, it gives off a decent first impression. Its driving. Its got energy and conviction. It feels like everything is too overdriven, but I suppose that was on purpose to make it more aggressive.

‘Gimme Danger’ comes on next. Its obviously very enjoyable to me just because I love the Monster Magnet version so much. Its kind of a contrast to the punky, raw and thrashy ‘Search And Destroy’ because its got a very precisely picked clean, acoustic guitar line as the main focus of the song, and shakers/maraccas sounds in the background giving it a sort of psychedelic vibe. The bassist is very talented. He, along with Iggy, create this very dark somber feel that you’d imagine (if you were me and had a disliking and limited knowledge about punk) was beyond the remit of punk. I know the Stooges themselves aren’t actually punk anyway, but, the surprise still comes because of the mind-link I’d had for so long.

It’s a fantastic song. No qualification needed.

Next up comes ‘Your Pretty Face Is Going To Hell’ which is a very noisy, very overdriven, very punk sounding number. The guitar solos are too loud, too brittle, Pop’s vocals are too loud and peaking like hell. Its actually got a kind of Status Quo feel otherwise. Its simplistic Rock N Roll but played-the-fuck-out-of. I say simplistic as a guideline for your mind to imagine the riff, but its actually rather musically accomplished and not all that simplistic really. It kind of sounds like Rocking All Over The World played by Gallows at a 1950s beach bonfire party. It’s the kind of thing you’d hear in a party scene in a hipster movie with Mike Cera in it and go ‘I wish I listened to things like that’ but then not follow through by checking the bands out, because you realise you don’t actually want to and the film is just selling you a lifestyle you aren’t really interested in.

‘Penetration’ comes on next, and its back more in the league of ‘Gimme Danger’ and although the vocals remind me of a punk version of Van Morrison, it retains that somber, moody feel. It has a catchy little keyboard or xylophone dingle (dingle? Is that a thing. Um, it sounds like Christmas through the filter of an advertisement for telephones) that stops it being just a repetitive punky affair (kind of like how The Libertine’s ‘The Man Who Would Be King’ does. He starts these echoey cries or cat noises that remind me of Mars Volta covering Pink Floyd’s ‘Candy And A Currant Bun’ and also their own track ‘The Malakin Jewel’

The title track follows and I can honestly say I feel like I’ve never heard it before. Its not in my brain and it isn’t bringing up ANY Guns N Roses memories. I have no idea if I ever heard their version then.
Its kind of OK as a song, but it doesn’t have a lot going for it, it’s a bit basic and a bit repetitive. The keyboards feel like they might’ve inspired QOTSA’s ‘Go With The Flow’ and the tambourines remind me of The Groovey Gholouies again, but that’s about all I can say. The song picks up a bit of interest when it wants to know if I can feel it, and offers a too-loud-to-actually-hear-most-of guitar solo, but its still not on the same level as ‘Gimme Danger,’ or even ‘Penetration.’

‘I Need Somebody’ comes in with a very nice change of pace. It feels very like Marilyn Manson. It feels like his cover of ‘I Put A Spell On You,’ it has this sinister, peadophile feel to it. It sounds drunk and like trouble. The shuffly time-sig and recording gives it this whole Howlin Wolf appeal. It reminds me of that character in Boardwalk Empire who was starting racial trouble when Chalky was in Prison. I guess its because the microphone sound is all crackly and heritage-sounding. It reminds me a bit of The Libertine’s ‘Road To Ruin’ mixed with Manson’s The Golden Age Of Grotseque title-track, Green Day’s ‘Hitching A Ride’ and the Aristocats in general. Its got the most character of anything on the record so far.

Next up is ‘Shake Appeal’ which is a bouncy Hand-claps and a riff I’d describe as ‘climbing.’ If it wasn’t so Grungey it’d remind me of what I imagine The Beatles sound like. It’s a bit Twist And Shout as played by Nirvana at their most ‘we love Flipper’ headspace. If you get my meaning. It also reminds me of Kings Of Leon’s debut album.

Last up is ‘Death Trip.’ Its very noisy and brash and lots of it is peaking like crazy. Some of the ‘whooo’s and ‘baby’s remind me of Dave Wyndorf. He punctuates like that. The vocals don’t really otherwise. The guitar solos on the other hand, are very Spine Of God.

Its cool, but it could do with a bit less repetition. Like the title track its just shy of being great because its length doesn’t justify its number of ideas for me. I mean, six minutes is a bit too long for only having one section and just adding or taking away leads and vocals. You aren’t Sleep’s Dopesmoker.
Actually, scratch that. It is handled pretty well. They can get away with it. A less talented band couldn’t pull it off though.

So. That’s the album. Thoughts? Well. ‘Gimme Danger’ was the obvious highlight. ‘Penetration’ was a second shot at greatness but not anywhere near as good. The rest of it was fairly cool, but not utterly my thing. A lot of it was a bit ‘pre-music’

The funny thing is, this record didn’t come out until 1973. By this stage, Black Sabbath had already made their debut, Paranoid, Master Of Reality and Vol. 4. Jimi Hendrix was already dead for three years, Led Zeppelin had made their first four albums, MK2 Deep Purple had put out the In Rock-Fireball-Machine Head trilogy.

Judas Priest were only two years away from releasing Sad Wings Of Destiny,
So, very, very hard rock had already came out, fully formed, and officially, definitely Metal Metal Metal Metal was only two years away (and some songs along those line were already out.)

In my mind, when I’m watching these documentaries about musical history and I imagine all the Protopunk stuff, I’m imagining it coming out in that ’67 Hendrixy, Hard-Rock-is-not-fully-formed period.

Hmmm. Now that I think about it though, their debut was ‘69 so this point is kind of stupid. The same year as Sabbath’s debut, Zeppelin’s debut (and Zeppelin 2), In The Court Of The Crimson King, and before In Rock. Yeah, Ok. I’ve got it straight in my mind. Carry On.

Sidenote – maybe I should’ve did this about their debut and not Raw Power. Hmmm…

I guess that’s what the whole spirit was though, a let’s get back to old rock’n’roll sort of feeling, but recording it faster, louder and angrier. They do sort of do it well. I’ll admit that. Even if its not perfectly my cup of tea. This wasn’t like discovering Sad Wings Of Destiny if I’m perfectly honest, but it wasn’t a waste of time either. It wasn’t a dead end for me either, like School’s Out, or The Melvins or Jazzy Black Flag, but I’m not going to be raving on about this record like it’s the second coming of Rishloo.

I’d like to say something more interesting about it, but its only about half an hour long, and three quarters of it is in a fairly similar style. There’s not much more to say on the subject.

I’ll stick the GnR version on. Hmmm. Its got a bit of life to it, I remember this album being very dull, this kind of has a bit of a pulse. Its fuzzy, its quick and that keyboard line is still there. There’s actually some good fills and the guitar solo is captivating. (It reminds me of this song, I only half remember, I think a woman sings it, but its like ‘d,d,d,don’t you touch me baby cuz I love you so much’… ring any bells?) Huh.. I was expecting more of a giant turd to be honest. The whole Guns N Roses thing for me had sort of died out in all the bad reports of every live show since Chinese Democracy came out, and this album had never did it for me anyway, so I expected something poor. Guess not.

Ok. So. That was illuminating and all, but I’m still out’ve things to say.
Umm. Goodbye I guess.

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