Iggy and the Stooges – Raw Power
Ever heard of James Williamson? If you’re serious about rock guitar, you should have. In the first six songs of this 1973 album, Williamson takes rock guitar into a highly original, hyper-aggressive direction which foreshadowed the Sex Pistols by three years while effortlessly surpassing every punk guitarist that followed in terms of technical ability. I can’t think of any other guitarist who created such an influential sound in a single album.
First, there are the album’s rockers – “Search and Destroy”, “Raw Power” and “Your Pretty Face is Going to Hell”. Williamson’s slashing chords are linked by riff runs played on the low strings which create a lead/rhythm hybrid that is far more accessible to a student of guitar than the dense webs woven by Hendrix, and in many cases, is far more driving and dynamic.
Then there are the slower songs, some played on acoustic guitar, where Williamson’s genius really shines as he takes the dirge-blues of “Gimme Danger”, “I Need Somebody” and “Penetration” and creates guitar lines that sound like nothing that has come before or since, mixing open strings with unusual chord voicings.
OK, so the last two songs on the album are almost unlistenable, but then The Stooges always had an avant-garde, art-rock noise edge to them. But as Johnny Marr said, Williamson ‘has the technical ability of Jimmy Page without being as studious, and the swagger of Keith Richards without being sloppy’ – the first six songs of Raw Power more than prove this.