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Iggy and the Stooges—Raw Power (Legacy Edition)(Columbia/Legacy Records)

Gold—40th Anniversary Edition DVD(Wild Eye Releasing/MVD Visual)

The Stooges’ induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this year was a moment of long-overdue vindication—and a bittersweet one as well, since it followed the death of original guitarist Ron Asheton in January 2009. But after having toiled in their day to almost single-handedly create punk rock while receiving little in return save for jeers, hostile derision, and ambivalence from the world at large, the group is wholly entitled to have the last laugh. For during their 1969-74 apex the Stooges represent, arguably, the greatest rock ’n’ roll band that ever was. Granted, the Velvets are probably more influential and the Beatles, Stones, Hendrix, etc. had the hits and made music of more varied moods. But in terms of pure rock ’n’ roll, of actually making the kind of lawless, unhinged, id-baring clatter that was hinted at by the earlier blues and rockabilly pioneers? Forget about it. Elvis wiggled his hips and Jagger licked his lips, but, as Lester Bangs once noted, Iggy Pop and band took everything to the next level: They externalized the music. The real deal, no holding back. They wrote songs that were the ultimate in sexually charged jungle noise and played them in the only way such songs should be played—with steely, all-out abandon. They nailed the very core essence of rock ’n’ roll, and then they lived it with their confrontational performances. Since the Stooges were born, punk proper and everything else that has come after claiming to rock are mere attempts to recapture what they started. Some are more successful than others, but the original model remains the best.

As Roll goes to press, we rabidly await the appearance of the revamped lineup of front man Iggy, drummer Scott Asheton (Ron’s brother), new bassist Mike Watt (ex-Minutemen), and Stooges Mk. II guitarist James Williamson at the All Tomorrow’s Parties festival in Monticello. For the occasion, the band had been set to perform the entirety of 1973’s Raw Power, its incendiary third album, recently reissued as a two-CD Legacy edition (the original, David Bowie-mixed album plus a never-before-heard live disc; reviewed here) and a deluxe package featuring the above two CDs, a third disc of studio outtakes (many previously unheard), a DVD, hardcover book, vinyl single, and other goodies. When the Stooges recorded Raw Power, they had just reunited for the first time, having released two LPs to an uncaring world before breaking up in 1971. Two years on, the Motor City outfit was back together with Iggy’s name out front, Ron Asheton having since moved from guitar to bass and Williamson taken over as guitarist. Stooges fans can be divided over which of their three initial albums is best, as all are markedly different. There’s the primitive caveman ür-stomp of 1969’s The Stooges; the pounding rock and avant-noise of 1970’s Fun House (to this writer the best rock ’n’ roll album ever made), and the scorching, unstoppably propulsive Raw Power. It’s the latter that had the most immediate influence on punk, especially in London, where the band was living when the record was made. Home to flame-thrower anthems (“Search And Destroy,” the title track) and dark, abyss-staring blues (“I Need Somebody,” “Gimme Danger”), it’s a life-affirming masterpiece that anyone with a beating heart should own. The second Legacy disc consists of a fantastic 1973 Atlanta performance of the band blazing through Raw Power tunes and several others that never made it to the studio while Iggy baits the confused good ol’ boys who wandered in that night. Essential stuff, to say the least. A studio outtake and a rehearsal track are bonus cuts.

The Stooges’ Detroit “brother” band was the MC5, whose fans may have heard about the 1968 hippie exploitation film Gold, thanks to the inclusion of its theme song on the band’s Babes in Arms (ROIR Records) rarities set. With three songs the MC5 contributes most heavily to the movie’s soundtrack, which also features folkie Ramblin’ Jack Elliot and others. Sadly, it’s those three tunes that consitute the most memorable part of the film. Produced by Bob Levis, it stars B-flick mainstay Del Close, and is little more than a drug-fueled, impossible-to-follow, “wacky” mess that makes “Laugh-In” look like William Shakespeare. With pretenses of radical social commentary, it seems to have been mostly an excuse to film naked hippie chicks (okay, that has its merits). A counter-cultural curio at best, really.—Peter Aaron

Iggy and the Stooges: www.legacyrecordings.com Gold: www.wildeyedvd.com



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