Raw Power

Album: Raw Power (1973)

Songfacts®:

  • Few songs embody the sex, drugs and rock & roll ethos like "Raw Power," the title track to the third Stooges album - the last one before the band fell apart (they didn't reunite until 2003). The song finds Iggy Pop defining "raw power": a feral force that is both destructive and vital. It can destroy a man, but happiness is a-guaranteed.
  • Pop wrote this and the other tracks from the album with Stooges guitarist James Williamson. True to the theme, they recorded it under spartan conditions. "We wrote it all together in rehearsal studios around London," Pop told The Wire in 1999. "Me and James would go book four hours in a little room, and sit around in one of these s--tty little unventilated places with a space heater and horrible plastic cups of tea, freezing our butt. He had a practice amp, and I would put my hand up to my mouth to holler loud. We'd come out four hours later with a song. We did that about ten times and we had an album."
  • In a Songfacts interview with James Williamson, he said: "I wrote most of that album in my room in London, on Seymour Walk. So, it was mostly written on acoustic guitar. I had a little Gibson B-25 Natural, and we lived in a mews house - townhouse style - with lots of neighbors on both walls, so I couldn't really play through an amp in there.

    I had to play everything acoustic. That turned out to be something I ended up doing for my entire career, because I found that the acoustic had a very clear tone. You could really hear what the music was. And then when it translated into electric, it was for all the better."
  • A one-note piano riff plays throughout the song. Iggy Pop played it, although many thought it was David Bowie, who mixed the album. Pop played a piano-like instrument called a celesta on another Raw Power track, "Penetration."
  • The song opens with a burp from Iggy Pop. It was unintentional but timed well to the track, so they left it in.
  • There are some drug references in this song:

    If you're alone and you got the shakes
    So am I baby and I got what it takes

    ...
    Raw power is a guaranteed OD

    Drug use hobbled the band and was a major factor in their implosion.
  • The photo on the cover of the Raw Power album became a defining image for Iggy Pop. It was taken by Mick Rock at an Iggy And The Stooges concert at Kings Cross Cinema in London, which hosted shows on Friday and Saturday Nights. Rock also took the photo of Lou Reed that was used on his Transformer album cover at the same venue around the same time.
  • For a while, there was a Stooges tribute band in the Los Angeles area called The Raw Power Rangers. Williamson saw them perform and was impressed.

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