Though the Stooges were on the verge of breaking up at the time RAW POWER was recorded, it still comes across as (arguably) their most focused and powerful release. Former guitarist Ron Ashton was moved to bass and replaced by James Williamson, whose precise, razory playing makes RAW POWER the Stooges' most guitar-driven album. Scott Ashton drums up a storm, and Iggy yowls, yelps, drawls, and croons with a sense of menace that is both exhilarating and frightening. Though the album retains the reckless urgency and noise-happy chaos that defined FUN HOUSE, it strips away the swampy murk of that album with its trebly, metallic production.
The songs work sexy, primal grooves ("I Need Somebody"), hopped-up boogie ("Shake Appeal"), reworked, adrenaline-pumped early rock & roll (the title track), and creeping, whisper-fueled come-ons ("Penetration"). The album's two best tracks, the spastic, take-no-prisoners danger anthem "Search and Destroy, " and the minor key, Doors-influenced "Gimme Danger" bristle with energy and the kind of sleazy, libidinous glamour that keep the true heart of rock thudding furiously. Aptly named, RAW POWER was the Stooges' third and final album, putting the cap on their small but hugely influential discography. A rock essential.
Rolling Stone (p.102) - 5 stars out of 5 -- "Iggy Pop delivers these desperate anthems as if he's lived every self-mythologizing line."
Rolling Stone (12/11/03, p.126) - Ranked #125 in Rolling Stone's "500 Greatest Albums Of All Time" - "[A] proto-punk-rock classic..."
Rolling Stone (6/12/97, p.114) - "...gleams with new menace and foreboding. Bulking up the rhythm section and nudging the guitar noise past the pain threshold, Iggy's remix creates a fresh context for his mad-dog act....a gloomy spell that's both complex and compelling."
Rolling Stone (5/10/73) - "...the Stooges return with a vengeance, exhibiting all the ferocity that characterized them at their livid best..."
Spin (p.92) - "[E]ven the two 'ballads' are full of menacing swagger."
Entertainment Weekly (4/4/97, p.82) - "...In past pressings, the guitars were too loud, the drums buried. The remix, supervised by Iggy Pop himself, is as collar grabbing as the Stooges' skin-scratching rage itself..." - Rating: A
Q (1/03, p.64) - Included in Q Magazine's "100 Greatest Albums Ever"
Q (8/94, p.126) - 4 Stars (out of 5) - "...The Stooges were the acme of nihilism....[RAW POWER was] the best Stooges album and arguably the musical and philosophical catalyst for the punk movement....Destined to remain horribly influential..."
Q (5/97, p.136) - 4 Stars (out of 5) - "a fantastically crude and powerful rock 'n' roll document and probably long overdue the re-mastering make-over that Pop himself has now given it....it's beefed up and more contemporary- sounding but retains its murky, lo-fi thrill."
Musician (7/97, p.86) - "...I've been playing along with this barre-chord extravaganza for aerobic exercise, as will all aspiring and/or nostalgic punks..."
Mojo (Publisher) (3/03, p.76) - Ranked #8 in Mojo's "Top 50 Punk Albums" - "...Iggy's uncelebrated '90s remix reinstates the intended muscle. Invest today!..."
Paste (magazine) (p.91) - "[They] sounded great even at the height of dysfunction....[RAW POWER is] The Stooges' greatest work..."