According to cultural historians it was a single critical act of random violence at Altamont that delivered the killing blow to the sixties.
This opinion has been repeated so often that most people would be forgiven for taking it as a fact, but is that the whole story?
Did the sixties really take its last breath as the knife slid into Meredith Hunter?
I don’t think so.
Slip off the revisionist glasses and it’s obvious that plenty of people were still happily basking in an extended summer of love well into the early seventies.
There is no doubt that the events captured on “Sympathy for the Devil” took the sixties crashing to its knees, but wasn’t the final nail in its coffin hammered home by Iggy and the Stooges in ’73 when Raw Power was issued?
Was Raw Power the real watershed moment?
I’m not going to argue that this is how it was at the time as it wasn’t, but in hindsight, and with the benefit of being able to see what direction music took since, I sincerely believe that it’s very obvious how pivotal Raw Power was as an album.
With a nihilistic and primal howl they seemed to take all the musical threads from the fifties and sixties and weave a new pattern from them.
A dark tapestry that while admittedly not changing everything overnight, most certainly served as a template for much of what would come in its wake.
Looking at it from one angle it’s a simple album that has a familiar and well worn subject matter at it’s core. It’s all sex drugs and rock’n’roll.
The unholy trinity that have been every parents nightmare since the first rocker let rip and shook his hips in a juke joint somewhere far back in the mists of time.
Yet what makes it so different from all that preceded it is that while it does have that familiar core it’s also steeped in the muscular and visceral madness of loathing through confusion.
At its dark heart it sounds to me like a coming of age album.
A coming of age album that will forever connect with every disillusioned and pissed of teen in the world, and maybe therein lies it’s appeal.
While Jagger and co sang “If I could stick a knife in my heart, Suicide right on stage, Would it be enough for your teenage lust, Would it help to ease the pain” you felt it was a hollow promise, but on “Raw Power” Iggy and the Stooges sound like they were ready and willing to spill everything out for you.
Every dysfunctional truth torn out and laid bare before you regardless of the reaction it would engender.
It’s an out of kilter work of genius whose appeal never diminishes.
Poor production and shit re-mastered reissues can’t contain it because it is more than that.
It’s quite simply a masterpiece. One that, like Peter Pan, refuses to grow up.
Simultaneously it is of its time, and out of time.
It’s a bridge from there to here in whatever context you want to put it in.
This is why when I heard that ATP had arranged for Iggy and The Stooges to play it in its entirety in the Hammersmith Apollo I dived at the chance of a ticket.
While naysayer’s claimed that a band fronted by a 63 year old could never manage to do justice to an album they created over thirty years ago I wasn’t willing to miss this just in case they did.
Let’s face it. Iggy and the Stooges doing Raw Power live is like a holy punk pilgrimage that seriously can’t be passed up on.
So London was calling and I was answering.
On the night we managed to get in early enough to grab a position against the barrier and waited for Suicide - who were going to play their debut in its entirety - to get things started.
Now I was keen to see them and considered their addition to the bill as the icing on the cake, but I’ve got to say that now that I have experienced Suicide it’s blatant that all they are about is confrontation.
I have never heard anything as loud. Motorhead sound like kids throwing toys about in comparison. The noise emanating from the stage physically pushes against your body and you can feel it internally pounding at your organs.
This isn’t entertainment.
From Ghostrider onward it is a relentless war of attrition between band and audience.
You don’t go to be entertained by them.
You go to perversely push yourselves to the limits of endurance and in the aftermath proclaim you survived them.
Thankfully the claim that they were doing the whole album proved to be false and we didn’t get the near ten and a half minute Frankie Teardrop.
In retrospect I can say that its inclusion may have served to do little more than decimated the audience.
Once they finished you could see pained looks on peoples faces.
Some confusion to, but mainly pain.
It’s not an experience I wish to repeat. Suicide can stay in my record collection where I can play them at a decibel level that doesn’t leave me feeling like I’ve woken up with a hangover and found myself with my head stuck in a samba drum as Mardi Gras goes on in full flow all around me.
Everyone who managed to watch them from start to finish really deserves a medal in my opinion, although the people who turned up late, but just in time for the Stooges, probably deserve a degree of recognition just for their keen self preservation skills.
Then with the buzzing still reverberating around my ear canals, and without any introduction or prior warning, the Stooges were there and storming into Raw Power.
With the audience caught off guard it seemed to take at least half a minute before they caught their breath and then erupted in fervent adulation.
Every misconceived doubt that anyone harboured was banished from the moment that Iggy cast his leather waistcoat aside.
This is why I had bought a ticket.
This is why I love the Stooges. This is what music is all about.
There isn’t a lull.
Everything is wrung out on stage.
Search and Destroy is a behemoth of a track and Gimme Danger left me with goosebumps rising on my arms and the hairs standing on the back of my neck.
This is nothing like an Iggy Pop show. This is more. James Williamson is a demon on the guitar. He might not be moving about much but he is sonically the perfect foil to Iggy performance, while Steve Mackay is obviously enjoying himself on the sax.
The whole sound is richer than I expected. If I could grab this and have it as my ears heard it on the night it would be my perfect take of the album.
It was seriously that good.
By “Your pretty face is going to hell” Iggy is in the audience. He literally flies into it like a heat seeking missile. This is a man in his sixties stage diving and there is nothing unnatural about it at all.
During “Shake Appeal “ he is doing his usual and inviting people up and of course there are plenty of people more than willing to join them on stage.
Spastically jerking across the stage there is no stopping Iggy. He’s a powerhouse.
I’m wilting and he is still driving onwards and upwards.
By this point I’m losing track of what order everything is coming in. I’m being swept away with it all.
This is up there as one of the best gigs I have ever been to, and if I consider that I’ve been going to approximately three gigs a month, every month for the last twenty eight years that tells you something about how fuckin’ special this was.
Penetration was pretty much perfection, as was Death Trip. Hell the whole of Raw Power was perfect.
Once they were finished that we got songs from the debut, Funhouse and even Kill City.
Everything was pounding by in a rush by this point. It’s frantic and wild in the crowd. A real melting pot of ages and sexes thrashing about in ecstasy.
I got a right was a clarion call to arms that we all wanted to answer, I wanna be your dog will always be a fans favourite and tonight showed why.
Can you imagine a gig that he didn’t actually perform it?
The crowd would lynch him.
Open up and Bleed had me gasping for air in slack jawed in wonderment.
Then the Stooges left the stage leaving Iggy to bait and toy with the crowd before he finally disappeared to rapturous applause that he milked to the maximum.
If it ended right at that point I would have been more than happy, but no, with hardly any time for the audience to take a breath the roadies are holding the guitars out for Scott Ashton and James Williamson who once again slip the straps over their shoulders and commence to blow everyone away on Funhouse, then Kill City before finally Johanna.
Iggy doesn’t appear to be flagging at all throughout the whole performance.
While he is very obviously sweating like a racehorse I would have bet money that we, as an audience, would have capitulated and threw in the towel before he would have.
Again the band are gone and again Iggy is milking it.
Of course much of this is a tried and tested performance, but how much is an act and how much is just wild abandon is hard to say. You can’t see the joins. I’ll say it again. It’s perfection.
If I had to rate this out of ten then I would have to give it the old Spinal Tap eleven.
Just had a trawl about and found the set list. Read it and weep.
Search And Destroy
Your Pretty Face Is Going To Hell
I Need Somebody
Cock In My Pocket
I Got A Right
I Wanna Be Your Dog
Beyond The Law
Open Up And Bleed