“Raw Power Live: In the Hands of the Fans – Iggy and the Stooges”: According to Iggy, “This sh*t really sizzles!”

By on December 9, 2016

Raw Power Live: In the Hands of the Fans – Iggy and the Stooges — now streaming on our Night Flight Plus channel — features the full concert by Iggy Pop and his band of Stooges, performing tracks from his 1973 Raw Power album, recorded live at the All Tomorrow’s Parties Festival back in 2010.

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On Friday, September 3, 2010, Iggy and the Stooges packed out the Starlight Ballroom at Kutsher’s Hotel and Country Club in Monticello, New York, the beloved family-owned and operated “Borscht Belt” resort in the Catskill Mountains, a kitschy vacation destination of yesteryear, particularly for vacationers living in New York City for whom the resort was easily accessible by car.

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The “In the Hands of the Fans” part of the title of this DVD release refers to the fact that six fans, all of them winners of an online contest, were each given film cameras and asked to shoot footage of the band at the concert, each from a different location (some of the cameras appear to be more hi-def than others, too). Their footage was then spliced into the concert film.

After the concert, all six fans got to meet and interview Iggy and the band, which featured the legendary James Williamson on incendiary lead guitar, and punk legend Mike Watt, filling in for fallen Stooges bassist Ron Asheton.

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Speaking in a statement about the 2011 180-gram vinyl LP release of the very same blistering concert recording — the audio for this concert is straight from the soundboard — Iggy Pop said this:

“Getting this top-notch performance of the entire Raw Power album by the Stooges realized a life long dream. This shit really sizzles and we are so obviously a crack band in a class of our own.”

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Ben Ratcliff, writing about Iggy and the Stooges’ ATP concert in The New York Times (“Body Language, Translated and Remixed,” September 5, 2010), said this:

“On the first night of the annual All Tomorrow’s Parties festival here at Kutsher’s Country Club, Iggy Pop, now 63, knew that his body language translated into still photographs resembling Mannerist paintings. And everybody there knew the band was to play Raw Power, the album it went on to make in London in the fall of 1972.

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The best of the record is fast and loud, howling and inviting, like an early ’60s R&B band with rabies. There are details of guitar riffs and drumming — and a one-note piano ostinato in the song “Raw Power” — that make a case for simplicity and repetition as the most noble things music can do.

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And with Mr. Williamson playing the riffs he hasn’t been playing for 30 years — between the 1970s and last year he worked for Sony as an electronics executive — the Stooges attacked the album’s eight songs, in a different order, just about perfectly.

The performance followed the form of their shows since they first revived in 2003. It included an interlude of the fans invading the stage to dance (on “Shake Appeal”); the almost maniacal concentration and effort of the bassist Mike Watt, tracking Iggy like a falconer as he energized some of the simplest and best bass lines in rock; and the no-music postlude, when Iggy kept up his elegant convulsions for a minute or so after the final song, spending the last of the electricity left in him.

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The Stooges also played “Night Theme,” from Kill City — a Pop-Williamson collaboration you would probably know only if you had spent time hanging around record stores. All Tomorrow’s Parties is full of such people, and Friday, the first night of the three-day festival, was for them.

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The original Raw Power album — the first credited to Iggy and the Stooges — was recorded in September and October of 1972, and released on February 7, 1973.

Iggy Pop and David Bowie shared the producer credit on the first Columbia Records release, although Iggy Pop had actually produced and mixed the album by himself; unfortunately, his botched first attempt at the mix had used only three of the 24 tracks, with the band on one track, James Williamson’s lead guitar on another, and his own lead vocals on a third.

Bowie was famously asked to mix the album at Western Sound Recorders — although Iggy wanted to retain his own mix of “Search and Destroy” — but found that since there were only three of 24 tracks used, there was “nothing to mix.”  He ended up remixing the other seven songs in a single day, mostly turning up Iggy Pop’s lead vocals.

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Subsequent lo-fi bootleg copies of Iggy’s original mix were circulated for years, and Greg Shaw’s Bomp Records released them on CD as Rough Power, but in 1996 Iggy Pop was invited by his record label, Columbia Records, to re-mix the album once again (a remastered, remixed CD was released on April 22, 1997).

In 2002, when he was interviewed for Moonage Daydream: The Life & Times of Ziggy Stardust (published in 2005), David Bowie said that his original mix of Raw Power is “the version I still prefer over the later remix – it has more wound-up ferocity and chaos and, in my humble opinion, is a hallmark roots sound for what was later to become punk.”

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Kutsher’s Hotel and Country Club

Earlier this year we mentioned Kutsher’s Hotel and Country Club in this post we did on Andy Kaufman, describing it as “the longest running of the so-called ‘Borscht Belt’ grand Catskills resorts, catering to a largely Jewish-American clientele who had made it a hugely popular vacation destination, particularly for those who live close enough in New York to travel there by car.”

After first founding in Europe and moving to the U.S., All Tomorrow’s Parties festivals in the U.S. had originally been held in Southern California (2002-2004), but one of the reasons the promoters decided to move to Kutsher’s was that they wanted fans to be able to go away for the weekend for all-three ATP shows, and stay in hotels, and Kutcher’s century-old estate had an old school, summer camp vibe which provided them with what they thought was the ideal ATP location (and for a few years, it was).

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In 2008, the first ATP at Kutsher’s moved the massive party indoors, to the historic Starlight Ballroom, a 3,000-maximum occupant venue.

Spin magazine called 2008’s ATP show “an unforgettable end to the summer festival season” and Pitchfork said it was “the most enjoyable festival experience of our reporter’s life.”

ATP returned to Kutsher’s in September 2009 with guest curators The Flaming Lips to even more positive critical reaction, and September 2010’s event, guest curated by filmmaker Jim Jarmusch, was called “The Perfect Rock Festival” by Rolling Stone.

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The ATP shows held at Kutscher’s were profitable for the first three years, but in 2010 the promoters lost a lot of money — somewhere in the neighborhood of $1 million dollars — and so they ultimately decided to relocate elsewhere, finding a new site for ATP on the Jersey Shore, in Asbury Park, NJ.

Kutsher’s — dating all the way back to 1907 — was eventually sold by the family in 2013, after the death of matriarch Helen Kutsher. Most of the resort’s buildings were demolished in 2014.

Here’s a trailer for a great documentary about Kutsher’s, called Welcome to Kutsher’s: The Last Catskills Resort.

Have a look at Raw Power Live: In the Hands of the Fans – Iggy and the Stooges — hailed as “part concert film, and part reality TV” — and experience Raw Power. It really sizzles, and it’s streaming now on Night Flight Plus.

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About Bryan Thomas

Bryan Thomas has been a freelancing writer/critic for All Music Guide, assistant editor for the When You Awake blog, and a contributor to Launch, Music Connection, Big Takeover and numerous other publications and entertainment websites, blogs and zines, most of them long gone. He's written more than sixty sets of liner notes. He’s also worked for over twenty years at mostly reissue record labels -- prior to that he worked in bookstores and record stores, going all the way back to the original vinyl daze. He lives in the Miracle Mile neighborhood of Los Angeles, CA.