For a band who only released three albums in their lifetime, the Stooges left behind a whole lot of scraps, wreckage, and unfinished business. There are literally dozens of discs which have emerged in the years since the band's inglorious collapse which document live shows, rehearsals, studio outtakes, alternate mixes, and various other Stooges audio fragments, and the really remarkable part is nearly all of it stems from the James Williamson era of the band, 1972 through 1974, when the band recorded the Raw Power album before eventually lurching to a halt. (The exhaustive box set 1970: The Complete Fun House Sessions is perhaps the only major archeological find unearthed from the earlier Ron Asheton edition of the Stooges). Separating the wheat from the chaff in the strange netherworld of Stooges arcania is no easy task, but that's what the folks who compiled Penetration have set out to do, pulling together the best known and most useful selections from the latter days of the Stooges and the dawning of Iggy Pop's solo career. Since the vast majority of this stuff wasn't necessarily meant for release in the first place, Penetration suffers from the same pitfalls of most posthumous Stooges releases -- namely dodgy sound and uneven material -- but at very least this set gives the material a more intelligent and logical context than it has had in the past, and most of the real high points of this era are represented. Included are a few of the infamous alternate mixes of Raw Power that Iggy aired on a Detroit radio station, demos for "I've Got a Right," "I'm Sick of You," and "Scene of the Crime," a live take of "Raw Power" that actually doesn't sound like crap, a sloppy studio jam called "Jesus Loves the Stooges," and nearly all the material from Kill City, Williamson's first attempt to make a solo album for Iggy (which didn't emerge until years after it was recorded). Much of Penetration sounds like a mess, but it's a mess with a genuine sense of historical purpose, and if you're at all interested in this stage of Iggy and the Stooges' career, this is likely the best place to start investigating (and most listeners will never need to search any further).
AllMusic Review by Mark Deming