Song of the Day: Iggy and the Stooges “Search and Destroy”
Raw Power was my first introduction to the raw and demented energy of Iggy Pop and the Stooges. While I had been a fan of the dark-themed punk meets neo Motown of Pop‘s second solo album, Lust for Life, I was taken by surprise when I ventured into Pop‘s pre-rehab band. The sense of menace that was still there, but muted on Pop‘s later work had been brought to the forefront and amped up. This was rock music at its least compromising: threatening to cut a path of destruction through everything that came in its way.
The lead track, “Search and Destroy” sets the tone for the album perfectly. It is an unvarnished paean to aggression. Taking imagery from the then still raging Vietnam War (including the title coming from a notorious common mission description), the song is filled with amphetamine fueled Vietnam nightmare imagery. It is really about having to make due under terrible conditions, and also features a number of sinister sounding lines, including the refrain about how they are “using technology”.
The band had undergone a line-up shift in the meantime. Original Stooges guitarist Ron Asheton had been bumped out of the band and replaced with James Williamson. While Williamson had more technical facility on the instrument than Asheton did, he also did not lack for primal bite. Asheton would eventually rejoin the band before the recording session, but demoted to bass. This led to fractious recording sessions that fed into the raw aggression of the music being made.
The album was (remarkably) produced by David Bowie. While Pop always claimed that Bowie had neutered the mix, Pop‘s own remaster of the album (using the original sessions tapes) released in 1999 did not prove particularly revelatory and the Bowie mix of the album is now once again viewed as definitive.
Play this one loud!