Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Stooges - Raw Power

The Stooges - Raw Power
Published in 1973

First off, thanks to my Dad for suggesting this album.  I'm really glad that you did, and consider your musical influence to be one of the reasons that I have the taste that I do.

Instead of calling this month "What albums can I find that I know that I love the artist but have never really listened to the whole of one of their particularly well loved classic albums?" month, apparently I should have just called it Albums (Sometimes Obliquely) Related to David Bowie month.

Let's get down to brass tacks, gentlemen and ladies.  Raw Power is awesome.  It's one of the most driven, well produced, well conceived albums.  It documents rock and roll and is rightfully called a turning point into punk.  It's simply a great album.

The most interesting thing to me is actually listening to it as someone who grew up knowing that The Stooges were a huge influence on the people that I cared about in rock and roll.  It's one of those quintessential American rock bands that everyone knows about, and was unrecognized in it's own time.  To listen to the Stooges now is an interesting experiment in musical time capsule-ism.

Popular music is generally consumed in two ways.  The first way is to consume it on the short term basis, where a massive amount of people get involved with the music, listen and digest it and for the most part, move on.  This is why popular music stations have a generally quick turn around time for most songs, and the songs that stick around are hugely overplayed, because if they have staying power, people will continue tuning in.

The second way is the fan's way of consuming it.  In general, these are the people like me, who get obsessed with an album, listen to it over and over, at different points in our lives, and try to find the meaning and beauty over and over.  The music is purely there for us to continue listening to it, and we consume it over a long time, drawn out.  Some of these albums you grow out of, but many are the backdrop of continuity that a music fan has in their lives.  

The Stooges seem to be designed for that second kind of consumption.  The popular music crowd would dispose of them quickly, but for lonely young people, looking to voraciously attack an album, make it their own, and understand every moment and subtext, this album would speak to one in a way that most others wouldn't,  The songs have a power that is not just because of the volume or speed, or even lyrically, but because it sounds like the guys are playing at you, not to you.

This album is not perfect by any means, and it is highly derivative.  At times, Iggy goes into a Doors like cover mode, which is perfectly serviceable, but I wish that they had more free reign to go all out on this album.  Some parts slow down too much to get the full power of the sound out of me, and some of the songs are just good, not great.

However, this album has Search and Destroy on it.  If an album has a song like Search and Destroy on it, it is immediately not optional.  Search and Destroy will make you give up writing music, if you go into it thinking that you're better than the Stooges.

Music, by it's nature, moves.  Any style of music that stagnates is going to be cut off, or be celebrated in small circles.  However, the cutting edge of music is also unappreciated.  When Iggy and the Stooges start playing, you can hear where they came from, and you can hear where music is headed.  This doesn't mean that this album is the reason, but it is a signpost of things to come, and that might be the highest praise an album can get.

"And I shall sing the song that ends the world,"

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