raw-power-reishYou probably know the back-story about the core package (the straight re-issue of the Bowie mix with live disc appended) so let’s cut to the chase and talk about the Deluxe Ediiton.

I must be one of the few people who found at least some redeeming qualities in Iggy’s re-mix, namely in the way the drums and Ron Asheton’s bass-playing were thrown into sharper relief. Even so, it was a struggle to find a sound system on which to play the damned thing without blowing a hole in the speakers. Too much red-lining and vocals that were way too high in the mix conspired to consign that re-issue to the back-shelf. Bowie’s supposedly ham-fisted 1973 mixdown was, in hindsight, the definitive article. Haphazard, crazed and reflective of the times.

So there's this disc one of this re-issue. Whether the transfer from master tapes to CD has worked is still contentious. These (damaged) ears tell me it’s a bit crisper but with only the vinyl to compare (the ‘80s CD version having been stolen years ago) it’s hard to say. Reviewing comrade Bob Short says the earlier digital version sounds warmer but that’s probably by relative degrees, given that we’re talking about CDs. Let’s just say the Bowiefied disc sounds more at home and familiar than its immediate shiny silver predecessor. This one doesn't scorch the carpet as badly.

It’s probably the extras you’re interested in anyway so let’s dive in. This deluxe edition is only available on-line, the bean counters at Sony deciding they wouldn’t move enough copies through the few record shops left standing to make it worthwhile. So is it worth the extra outlay? My call (admittedly from a fan-atical perspective) is Yes – provided you’re not paying the $50 international shipping cost Sony and/or its gouging mail order fulfilment company is charging overseas customers. Using “other channels” (payment via Paypal, having it shipped to a US friend and paying her to send it on) the real cost was less than half that. So now you know how to screw the system that would screw you. And while we're handing out brickbats, let’s send a giant "Get Fucked" the way of Sony's Australian office which couldn’t be bothered doing the parent company’s bidding and even servicing us with a no-frills CD-R advance release for pre-release review.

This is a well-appointed package. Stunning. It’s four discs (the album re-issue, the live “Georgia Peaches” show, a CD of supposed rarities and a DVD documentary) in a fold-out inner sleeve. The slipcase also accommodates a re-issue of the impossibly-rare Japanese seven-inch “Raw Power” vinyl single (looks and sounds nice on our jukebox), as well as postcard-sized photos and a gorgeous glossy booklet.

The book’s very nice if low on fresh insights - Henry Rollins’ piece on the Iggy re-mix does its best to say how good it was (and of course you may disagree) – while the truly obsessed might frame the postcard style pictures that come in the elegant black envelope. Don't ever say we're not full of good ideas.

The rarities disc is mostly no such thing: “Gimme Danger” and “Your Pretty Face Is Going to Hell” are the 1996 mixes (probably compressed to the shithouse, one informed guess opines) while the versions of “Shake Appeal” and “Death Trip” aren’t startlingly different to anything heard before. “I’m Hungry” is an early version of “Penetration” with different lyrics that avoid intravenous injecting allusions but sticks with sex; it’s pretty good and holds up to repeated plays. “Hey Peter” is an outtake for good reason and the vocal re-mix job sounds far too contemporary for its own good.

“Georgia Peaches” is where the action is and its eight songs find Iggy & the Stooges in fine form. It was professionally recorded but it’s not as pristine as you might have been led to believe. Even allowing for scratchy guitar lead noise and the odd vocal drop-out, it’s a staggering piece of aural carnage and well worth repeated plays. For mine, this really takes off at “Gimme Danger” (three songs in) and doesn’t relent until the final chords of “Open Up And Bleed” where the ragged nature of Scott Thurston’s vocal add-in only accentuates the level of desperation.

The Ig is out on the edge – you can hear it in his vocal and in-between song belligerence that almost resulted in some hapless local “cracker boy” copping a knuckle sandwich with all the trimmings. Of course most of the crowd probably thought Iggy was referring to the aural impact of his band when he quipped that “it doesn’t hurt after the injection” but with the addition of hindsight it’s a piece of patter that is breathtaking in its irony.

This is a disc to play to death, even if the bonus studio songs (the very ordinary jam “Doojiman” and an oft-heard “Head On” rehearsal) are merely appended to fill out time.

As for the DVD documentary, it’s a fine reflection on the making of the original album with some modern contextual interviews and reformation footage mixed in. Iggy’s engaging, Bono’s nowhere to be seen (the latter’s especially important) and the thing rocks royally when cranked up on a decent system. Ten years ago, making this DVD would have been unthinkable to all but a handful of Stooges industry insiders and fans. Remember that when you watch it, and be thankful that someone cared. - The Barman


On the heels of James Williamson’s return to the fold from his post-Stooge career as a corporate exec and Ig ‘n’ the boyzzz “about fucking time” induction into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame/Lame/Shame comes this re-release of the Stooges’ third album. I refuse to shell out 60 bucks to hear jams I already own in two different forms (vinyl Bowie mix and ’97 CD Igmix), so you’ll have to wait for the Barman’s review to get the lowdown on the deluxe edition. Me, I’m a cheap sonofabitch – I’m not handing Rhino Handmade 50 bucks for two CDs to hear one new song on their upcoming deluxe edition of The Stooges, either -- so it’s ironic (in the non-Alanis Morisette sense) that after I preordered this from Amazon, a friend who’s in radio donated one of her station copies to me (thanks, Janice!). It’s like I got someone else’s karma or something.

It’s my belief that the reason for the enduring fascination with (and seemingly endless stream of product from) the Williamson-era Stooges is that they were never recorded properly during their existence. While Funhouse remains a perfect album and the essential artifact of the ‘riginal lineup, "Raw Power" in its original Bowie mix was like a knife in the ear, no bottom end and all screeching treble, and Iggy’s ’97 remix, while louder, kinda felt like being onstage in a club with the worst monitor mix in the Universe – a wall of rhythm guitar sludge. Part of the problem was that the engineer on the sessions didn’t even bother to take levels from the bass and drums, a mistake Bowie compounded by mixing as he went, eliminating the possibility of repair down the road. The way I listen to the Bowie mix today is the same way I listen to Funkadelic’s original “Maggot Brain” – like a dub piece. When I wanna hear the Asheton boys, I reach for something “quasi-legit.” (My faves: Bomp’s "Year of the Iguana" and Easy Action’s "Heavy Liquid".)

The torrent of rehearsal and live recordings that followed the late-‘70s appearance of "Metallic K.O." has varied widely in quality, from “recorded across the street from the venue” execrable (the original vinyl "Metallic K.O.", parts of Bomp’s "Double Danger) to fairly snat (Bomp’s "Michigan Palace" and "California Bleeding", the Ann Arbor and Noo Yawk rehearsals included in "Heavy Liquid"). The ’73 Atlanta show Legacy releases here for the first time under the rubric "Georgia Peaches" is one of the better ones extant – a good board tape with bass, drums, and vocals as clear and present as they’ve ever been. Williamson’s guitar and Scott Thurston’s piano kinda get short shrift in the mix, but it’s still exceptional for what it is. The band’s tight and hot (I’m tired the fuck of hearing uninformed civilians saying the Stooges were sloppy or couldn’t play, but I think that perception stems in part from the fact that the "Raw Power" band was so shabbily recorded – beauty’s in the ear of the behearer), and Iggy’s audience baiting’s a hoot.

The one new song, “Doojiman,” is a studio jam that sounds suspiciously similar to the ten seconds of “Asthma Attack” that you can hear on Rhino’s website. I think between this track and Bomp’s "Wild Love", we can consider the bottom of the Stooges barrel officially scraped. At this point, I’m still kind of curious about the whereabouts of the pro recording Columbia made at NYC’s Academy of Music in ’73 (an audience tape of which Bomp included on "Double Danger"), but I’m really jonesing to hear the Ungano’s show – with Ron on guitar – that Rhino’s holding.

All bullshit aside, it’s great to have the Bowie mix available for digital only slaves who don’t want to have to buy used copies of old crappy Columbia CDs. The packaging and notes are ace and Mick Rock’s photos are as iconic as ever. If you don’t already own "Raw Power", you need this. If you already own "Raw Power" and love the Stooges, you still need "Georgia Peaches". - Ken Shimamoto