Friday, August 19, 2005

MUSIC: "Raw Power" by Iggy Pop and the Stooges

I was a closet Iggy Pop hater. I pretended to like Iggy Pop to impress my older brother who was a big Iggy fan. And being into punk rock, I had to to be cool and with it, and I did this by pretending to like the artist who probably influenced more 70's and 80's punk bands than anybody else. (When you're a big nerd, you got stroke your ego somehow. I did it by feeling superior on music and movies.)

Besides, if David Bowie liked his stuff, it had to be good! (Actually, this statement is pretty accurate. David Bowie has introduced me to quite a bit of good music and has said great things about artists and songs I already love - The Chieftains, Moby, The The's "Uncertain Smile" - one of the best 12-inch singles ever - this was back in the vinyl days for you young'uns!) (Though I have to admit I'm not a big Nine Inch Nails fan.)

Actually, I liked Iggy, but I realized that I had only listened to some of his songs. When I heard entire albums, I was rather disappointed.

So I have no idea what put me in an Iggy mood and made me pick up this cd from the library. But I'm glad I did. I love it! This cd is incredible!

I have to admit that I might be able to appreciate it more now, because it has been remixed. Apparently, the old mix was pretty bad. But I hadn't heard Raw Power since college, and on a vinyl record, I couldn't tell what the difference is.

But it still has a lo-fi quality that I think actually helps give some raw energy and roughness that helps this music.

And what fascinating music this is. I think I needed to be older to appreciate this. This music doesn't really have as much of a pop sensibility to it as some punk and rock music. It's not a bunch of songs you can hum to and sing along with. They're good enjoyable tunes, but except for "Raw Power", they're not really catchy.

(Which actually is what gave The Sex Pistols and The Clash their edge. Yeah, they were loud, noisy and abrasive, but underneath all that, there were catchy tunes that you could sing along with. In fact, many kids found it very easy to sing along with The Pistols. And I think that is what help make them so popular in Europe and England. The Pistols were basically writing catchy pop tunes with noisy guitars and abrasive vocals and lyrics.)

I don't want to make it sound like Iggy was doing some avant-garde atonal experimental jazz work. There is a sound and groove you can get into here. It just isn't obvious as some other works.

A great, hard driving banging and rhythm backs all this work. Stacked on top of this is some fantastic strong, pulsating, beautifully fuzzy rhythm guitar work along with James Williamson's wild crazy note-hunting. Only in bluegrass have I heard more note-picking. On top of all this is Iggy's snarling, although snarling doesn't begin to describe the way Iggy sings on this album. It feels like Iggy's about to jump out of the speakers or headphones and bite your head off - especially in "Your Pretty Face is Going to Hell"! And the way he sings "Penetration" makes me fear for all the females I know. And with David Bowie mixing the stuff, there is a touch of a pop feel to keep things from getting too out of hand.

But some of that guitar note-picking originally turned me off. This album came out in 1973 (four years before Never Mind the Bollocks or The Clash's debut album). And it has some of that 70's rocks feel, especially with the guitar solos and some of Iggy's drawn out vocals.

But as I get older and hopefully lose some of my pretentiousness, I can return to that 70's music that I looked my nose down at after finding punk rock and new wave. In fact, it seems a lot of the young punk rockers are finding that they can use some elements from classic rock. And the Americana scene has definitely been influenced by southern rock.

So now I can once again enjoy "Cat Scratch Fever" and "Free Bird". And with those, I can enjoy Iggy's stuff here. Because he takes all those classic rock sounds and infuse them with the power, energy and feel of punk rock. This is what 70's rock could have been if others were courageous enough to take the plunge. And without albums like this, punk rock would have never come to be.

Therefore, if you like to rock out, listen to an important piece of rock and roll, as well punk, history. Iggy and the Stooges will give you a ride you won't easily forget.

An Iggy Pop fan page
VH1 Iggy Pop site

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This is a fairly good sampling of some of the music I listen to. It's missing a few genres I like - such as cajun. I'll work on that later. But it does contain most of my favorite artists. I tried to steer away from the better known songs to give you a better idea of what kind of music the artists play, but I was limited by the songs the website - Project Playlist - had available. But if you want to get an idea of what I listen to, just hit the play or arrow button. - OlderMusicGeek

The internet station that does the best of playing my music is Last.fm. Here's my station if you're interested.

This website, OlderMusicGeek Radio on Pandora.com, does a fairly decent job of playing what I like, although they do occasionally play stuff I don't care for, but overall they're pretty good.