Album: Raw Power, 1973
Justification: I know, Raw Power‘s not a patch on the first two Stooges albums, James Williamson changed the band, it’s not even technically the Stooges blah fucking blah. And look, I have nothing but time for the Stooges, but this is my favourite album of theirs. And this song is the main reason.
Lyrically it’s Iggy’s Vietnam song. The “search and destroy” tactic was a popular one for US military forces: it basically meant “find target, destroy target, run away” – and of course “heart full of napalm” was something of a giveaway. But musically it’s Williamson’s baby: that searing lead work, sounding like the world’s most pissed-off mosquito, still slices through the speaker like a hot blade through flesh. Apparently the trick is Les Paul Custom using only the bridge pickup (a Humbucker, in Williamson’s case), fed through a Marshall’s boost channel with volume up full and bass wound down, for anyone playing at home.
It also cuts through so beautifully because when Iggy was producing the recording he somehow managed to put everything onto three (mono) tracks: vocals on one channel, lead guitar on another, and everything else – drums, bass, rhythm guitar, the lot – onto a channel by itself. This meant that once the tapes were given to David Bowie to mix, there was basically nothing he could do but bring vocals and lead lines up and down. Want to know why the album sounds like nothing else before or since? The answer: Iggy didn’t know how to use a 24 track desk.
It’s a song that I loved when I was a teenager, then went off the Stooges for some inexplicable reason when I got into indie pop and pretty much forgot about until it was a playable song on one of the early Guitar Hero games (GHII, if memory serves). I got pretty amazingly good at the level, let me tell you.
It’s also quoted in one of my favourite Onion stories: ‘Headphones-Wearing Pedestrian Loudly Proclaims Iron Man Status’.
SONG YOU SHOULD HAVE REDISCOVERED THIS TIME IN 2010: Depeche Mode’s magisterial ‘Never Let Me Down Again’.