Iggy & the Stooges

Rough Power

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The final mix by David Bowie of the Stooges' final studio album has been a subject of open debate since the day of its release in 1973. Some see it as a total botch job, with the vocals and guitar overdubs set so far out front of the bass and drums (collapsed into mono, stripped of its high frequencies, then echoed to death) as to appear comical. Others see it as a mix every bit as anarchic as the music itself. That debate is fueled even further by the first legal appearances of these alternate mixes done by Iggy and the Stooges prior to Bowie's intervention. On tracks like "I Need Somebody" and "Gimme Danger," the focus is much sharper than the released version, while on others ("Hard to Beat," "Raw Power," "Search and Destroy") Iggy's vocal is obscured by liberal doses of too much echo. An aircheck from early 1973 gives us grainy, abrasive speeded up alternates of seven more tracks and the compilation closes with three more from late in 1972, clearly showing that the boys had theories on mixing that were every bit as off the wall as Bowie's finals. Final score: not necessarily better, but very different.

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