Iggy & the Stooges

Search and Destroy

Composed by Iggy Pop / James Williamson

Song Review by

Daringly using Vietnam War terminology ripped from the era's headlines, like "heart full of napalm" and "love in the middle of a firefight," Iggy Pop urgently appeals for love as the "world's forgotten boy/The one who searches only to destroy." These seeming tossed-off, cocky lyrics and the raw energy of the Stooges on their 1973 landmark Raw Power LP obfuscate the narrator's true desperation in "Search and Destroy": "Honey gotta strike me blind/Somebody's gotta save my soul." Pop sounds like a man who has nothing to lose; he doesn't just leave relationships wrecked on his shoals, he seems to fear some real evil within himself that disallows any real human contact. With "Search and Destroy," the Stooges lay down an archetype for punk rock: James Williamson blistering through a bastardized and pumped-up Keith Richards guitar riff; Ron Asheton, having been relegated from guitar to bass, pounds the instrument with ferocity, while his brother, Scott Asheton, pummels the drum set like Keith Moon -- all fills and cymbals. The band has the urgency of musicians playing as if it would be the last song they ever got to perform. The song teeters on the edge of nihilistic self-destruction, lurching at a breakneck pace. One can hear the influence of the song in a myriad of bands that followed: the Sex Pistols, the Ramones, Motörhead, the Dead Boys (who covered it), and Nirvana. Widely regarded as a production disaster, Pop and the record's producer, David Bowie, blame Raw Power's poor mix on the ultra-low recording budget. But the visceral effect of the overly prominent guitars and distorted vocals struggling to be heard create a hard edge on "Search and Destroy" that has been emulated in punk and post-punk recordings. The song breaks many of the recording rules that were starting to bleed life from big-budget projects during the '70s, when a cult of recording technology was emerging. Also released that year were the chart-topping Elton John song "Crocodile Rock" and the richly produced Pink Floyd album Dark Side of the Moon. Raw Power reminds one of the early Beatles, Stones, and Kinks records, when energy oozed out of the primitive recordings. Nevertheless, in 1997 "Search and Destroy" and the rest of the record was successfully remixed and remastered by Pop and Bruce Dickinson . "Search and Destroy" has become a punk rock live staple. Red Hot Chili Peppers, Sid Vicious, the Dictators, and KMFDM have all been known to perform and/or record versions. Most stay close to the original.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Raw Power 1973 Columbia / Legacy / Sony Music Distribution 3:29
Rough Power 1995 Bomp 4:08
Pop Art: Underground Sounds from the Warhol Era 2002
Various Artists
WEA International 3:26
Wonderland [Original Soundtrack] 2003
Original Soundtrack
Epic 3:26
No Thanks! The '70s Punk Rebellion 2003
Various Artists
Rhino 3:29
Search and Destroy 2004 Cleopatra 3:46
The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou 2004
Original Soundtrack
Hollywood 3:27
A Million in Prizes: The Anthology 2005 Virgin 3:29