Monday, March 7, 2011

Iggy & the Stooges - "Raw Power" (1973, UK Edition - CBS) In search of the best mix, the best pressing or the best mastering..?

There's a weird justice in music and especially in rock & roll when someone referring to a "successful" band or record. Something like a hoodoo voodoo shit. I mean, no one seemed to like the Stooges when the Stooges actually were the hottest shit around. Disappointing sales lead to many of the problems they confronted (drugs was another one) and sooner than later disbanded. Through the years and as their legend still grows (they tried their best to reduce him with all these unnecessary tours and the crap that titled "Weirdness" - thankfully failed), the sales around the "Stooges" trademark should grow by now, day by day. I own all their official albums in three or four different editions, and I'm of those Stooges fanatics that didn't get a lot further. Of course there are some cool boots too on my library. Sales wise, the Stooges must  be now a strong card. Not long time a go some dust got up for the Legacy "Raw Power" box set-special edition whatever anyway they named it. "Raw Power"'s my all time fave album (OK, "Exile"'s too but no Velvets' "Banana" here sir...). My desert island record. The one that changed my mind on what is "hard" or "metallic" in music. Til then i was searching on the wrong places for it (Sabbath etc). I know, i was another one that ate the bate, thankfully for a little. Through the ages, people referring to this monolithic output as "one of the most important proto-punk records".I spit on this. This is (along with "Here are the Sonics" and "BOOM!") THEE proto-punk classics. The only ones you really NEED to own. And there comes the 1.000.000 dollars question... What's the better mix of this? Or better should we add, the better pressing...or mastering?  I've got already four different "Raw Power" releases and I've heard already some more. The first one i picked was bought by me back in 1994 and it's a CD with the reference CDCBS32083. Next steps were the "Rough Power" mixes put out by Bomp!, the 1996's re-mixes of Iggy's for Legacy and the last one's the big fat vinyl of Sundazed. There are tracks that had obvious differences like for example "Search & Destroy" or "Gimme Danger" and others that in my ears at least sound exactly the same ("Raw Power")... But actually are more on the subject. So much, that you have to become an academic and not a punk rocker... But what the hell, I've grown up enough to claim still that I'm a young speed freak and to tell you the truth it always fascinated me searching on "mysteries" like the one we opened here.
 Facts: The secret weapon that makes "Raw Power" a legendary long play (except for its brilliant music of course) , is the disadvantage of the "production". I don't know if exists a book on the matter (probably not - i guess i would have know its existence but anyway...) but as you can find on various sources, Iggy blew it by himself. He had Columbia on his back, the best line up ( i prefer Ashetons as the rhythm section and Williamson as the axeman) a 24 track studio...and he used just three channels... THREE! It always sounded like a demo snappily recorded - alive in the studio, than a major label's project. And all these to me are GREAT! If it comes for rock & roll (aka punk rock), fidelity it's a small matter. It's the performance and the action that really counts. And both aforementioned elements, shines throughout "Raw Power"'s duration. Naturally, big fat ass people of the Main Man and CBS, freaked upon hearing the original mixes and bring along Bowie to set an order to the mess (or chaos). I don't like Bowie. But there are things on him that makes me respect him. And yes, I'm one of those who dig better Bowie's mixes than Iggy's. Iggy agreed with the Bowie option.
"...The most absurd situation I encountered when I was recording was the first time I worked with Iggy Pop. He wanted me to mix Raw Power, so he brought the 24-track tape in, and he put it up. He had the band on one track, lead guitar on another and him on a third. Out of 24 tracks there were just three tracks that were used. He said 'see what you can do with this'. I said, 'Jim, there's nothing to mix'. So we just pushed the vocal up and down a lot. On at least four or five songs that was the situation, including "Search and Destroy." That's got such a peculiar sound because all we did was occasionally bring the lead guitar up and take it out.." said Bowie on an interview.
You really need some guidance to go further and spent some more money on the same record to hear by yourself and judge. I tried to track down Jean Philippe to tell his opinion on this cause he's a master at it. I mean, this bloke has at least 10 different "Raw Power" copies... I failed. But you know what, i love internet. I thought i was one of the few fans of the Stooges and "Raw Power' especially... What a dumb-ass! Jean Philippe turned me on to a different mix i haven't noticed til a few days ago. The "Embassy Reels"...And it's an entirely different chapter that we're going to explore together but after finishing my homework first. He was right, i did a research and through the lot of the "Raw Power" posts found zero on the UK edition, with the unbeatable echoed version of "Search & Destroy"! So he made as usual an EXCELLENT rip of this and sent me the links to share it with you people. You really need to hear this version! Above, there's a copy of some things sent me via emails we've exchanged the last days to see a master's view on the subject.
"As for Raw Power, so many things have been said about it...where to start?
To make a long story short:
* Since its 1973 release, people -including the stooges themselves- have been complaining about the thin sound of the Bowie original mix. In fact, only the first track, Search & Destroy has a harsh sound, other tracks have balls.
* The original 1973 CBS UK pressing has a different mix for Search & Destroy. Who did this mix? Who knows/who cares? Punchy mix with clearly audible bass & drums. It was also available on *some* cassettes ["cassette mix"] and on *some* 1977 Raw Power UK reissues on CBS/Embassy ["Embassy mix"]. I own an Embassy reissue, but it doesn't have the alternate mix. It does sound different, though, with more bass, but it's probably a mastering issue rather than a different mix. As far as I know, the alternate mix was a UK-only release (Holland and Australian pressings, for example, have similar orange CBS label, but it's the same mix as the US one).
* The recent Raw Power Sony 3 CD reissue was supposed to have alternate mixes ("Embassy Reels"), but this rip-off release just has the regular mixes:
"Background on two more tracks: ‘Raw Power’ was cut from the Columbia U.S. catalog within a year or so after its release, but had reappeared on the CBS UK budget-line Embassy Records line, “by popular demand” of Brits at the dawn of the punk rock era. Matheu began importing copies to the Peaches record store he managed in Detroit. He immediately noticed the Embassy LP and cassette mixes of “Raw Power” and “Search And Destroy” were different than the U.S. mixes he knew. Three decades later, Matheu informed Dickinson of the Embassy issue, and Dickinson contacted Richard Bowe at the Sony UK archive. They were able to find the original tapes – now known as the Embassy Reels – which did, indeed, have different codes and matrix numbers on them. As Dickinson began transcribing the Embassy Reels, it wasn’t just ‘Raw Power’ and ‘Search And Destroy’ that were different, it was a completely alternate mix for the whole album. The alternate mixes of ‘Shake Appeal’ and ‘Death Trip’ on this Rarities CD are some of the fruits of that search."
This is just bullshit.
* Until recently, I wasn't even aware of this alternate mix (only Search & Destroy is different, the rest of the LP is the same), though I've been listening this LP for almost 25 years. When I found it, I share it with some members of the stooges forum. One of them re-posted it on a crappy Velvet Underground forum, without even letting me know, but I don't really care. Maybe it's time for this UK mix to have an "official" posting (sort of), and your cool blog is probably the best place for it...if you want..."
Many thanks Jean Philippe!
FLAC

Raw Power!
Removed due to complaints




9 comments:

  1. Thanks for this UK edition! Iggy RULES!

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  2. Thanks a lot! I own a copy of the infamous Bowie mix, I bought it some 15-ish years ago. I also listened to the version remastered by Iggy, but I didn't like it. Basically you can hear just Iggy screaming here and there.

    Oh, and last year I saw the "Raw Power" gig in London. Fucking awesome! The whole album + other oldies.

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  3. Great post, friend! I like both, the Bowie's and Iggy's mixes. The first are like a cut with a rusty penknife, the second are like a punch in your face. Election it's answered with a simply question: How do you wanna get injuried?

    Thanks a lot, bro!

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  4. Sorry, i find the latest release ("Box Set"), which has James' contribution & expertise, superior to any others, and I have heard them all, at least for a CD sound.
    Also, as Ron's last recordings, "The Weirdness" will stand the test of time, just sayin'

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  5. I am another one who really enjoys the recent remaster. I can actually play it from beginning to end without the treble ripping my eardrums apart!

    And for what it's worth, I was the one who posted JP's Embassy files to the VU forum (a very excellent forum) and completely gave credit to "jpstooges" and quoted his comments regarding the different versions/mixes/releases.

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  6. Brought the album back in December 1975. You
    couldn't give Ig's albums away in the rush for
    Queen and Supertramp's music. But it changed my
    life. A few months later, a snotty band called
    The Sex Pistols were causing mayhem with their
    own brand of Stooge like mayhem. The rest is history.

    I like both versions of the album. After 39 years, the Stooges have had the last laugh....

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  7. it's doing my head in trying to find this!!!
    everywhere i look the links have been taken down.

    anybody with this rip, can you please email me?
    shinted.tades@gmail.com

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  8. Three songs on the original UK press are different mixes. I own this and the US original too. Death Trip is different, which is all you need to know to go on a hunt for a UK press.

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    1. Word. When I walked home with a UK original press, after I'd loved the album for at least a decade, Search & Destroy blew my socks off. But Death Trip goes from "interesting mumble craziness" on the US mix to "the Sonics of the 70s". Find it, buy it, die.

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