Thursday, July 10, 2008

Search And Destroy

One evening, a few weeks ago, I was sitting at the computer working and listening to itunes, in shuffle, when Iggy and the Stooges came up and caught me by surprise. I hadn't listened to this record in quite some time. "Search and Destroy" came out of nowhere and ran through me like a shot of adrenaline, just as it has repeatedly since I was a teenager and bought the Raw Power LP out of the cutout bin at Streetside Records in St. Louis. After listening for a few moments, I realized I was listening to the bastardized remix that Iggy decided he had to do in 1997. I've never liked it. The original, mixed by David Bowie, is brutal. A lot of people, including Iggy don't like that one either. What's great about it is what's wrong about it. James Williamson's guitar is way too loud and it comes at you in spastic fits. It sounds like you're in a rehearsal studio, standing between the PA and guitar amp. And then there's the song. Iggy took the title from a Time Magazine article about the Vietnam War. He wrote it in London, high on dope and casually sitting under an oak tree in Kensington Park in his cheetah jacket. At the session they recorded a sabre fight with antique swords. I don't know if translates, but the attitude does. This is a nasty record and I love it.

So, with my temporary burst of energy, and after explaining to my son about The Stooges, I prompted him to get his shoes on and we were out the door. It was late, and we were on a quest. My copy of Raw Power on vinyl disappeared years ago. I'm not sure if I loaned it to someone or a roommate walked off with it, but I had to hear it. I had the fever, you see. Or maybe just a bad case of the Boogie Woogie Flu. First stop was Earwax on Bedford Avenue. I talked to the guy behind the counter explaining what I was looking for and trying not to appear totally insane. It helps to have a kid in tow, but considering the nature of my request it could be bring into question his safety. Luckily, they know me. They had a sealed copy of a reissue on 180 gram vinyl, that by all accounts looked like the original. I wasn't convinced. They even got Fabio (the owner of the store) on the phone. I talked to him for a bit, but he wasn't 100% sure either. I didn't buy it.

It was 9:00 already, and they were getting ready to close. We said our goodbyes. Realizing that stop number two - Academy Records - would also be closed, I picked up the phone and called my friend Nicholas Hill who lives around the corner. I asked him if he had it - he thought he did, but wasn't sure - if you saw his record collection, you'd know what I mean. We went over there and Lincoln played with the kids while Nick and I retreated to his basement. There was a fair amount of Iggy and even a bootleg of yet another (horrible) set of Raw Power mixes, but no dice on the genuine article. I was losing steam and it was a school night. I scooped up Lincoln and we went home.

After he went to bed, I checked out eBay. Nothing. Only the reissue that I had seen earlier. Then I looked at the Iggy singles, and found this curious item that we have here: a white label DJ copy of "Search and Destroy" Stereo on one side and Mono on the other. This is interesting for a few reasons. There are two versions of Raw Power on Vinyl and on CD, and bootlegs of varying unlistenable quality claiming to be the "definitive" mixes, but I'd never seen a Mono mix anywhere. Also, a Mono mix of Iggy and The Stooges, would have meant that the record company somehow thought that this was going to get some radio play on the AM dial for which these type of singles existed. Not much chance of that. Not in 1973, and not ever. So, I broke my six-month long moratorium on eBay purchases and placed the opening bid. Luckily, no one else needed to have this record as badly as me and 2 days, 6 hours, 46 minutes and 17 seconds later, it was mine. In the meantime, I looked for a used copy of the LP in town. I couldn't find one. It's not a rare record, I just couldn't find it, so I relented and bought the reissue. Afterall, it turns out to be the original mix, but something sounds different to me in the transfer. So, after leaving town and returning this week I heard the single - as I remembered it, a glorious noisy mess. Friends, this is what madness looks like, and this is how "a streetwalkin' cheetah with a heart full of napalm" is supposed to sound in Stereo and in Mono.


Search And Destroy (Stereo)
by Iggy and The Stooges, 1973.
out of print

Search And Destroy (Mono)
by Iggy and The Stooges, 1973.
out of print


Search And Destroy (Remix 1997)
by Iggy and The Stooges, 1973.
available on Raw Power

this one is actually pretty great.
Search And Destroy (Rough Mix)
by Iggy and The Stooges, 1973.
WABX Detroit
radio broadcast
available on Rough Power


Anonymous said...

My theory is that they didn't let James listen to the track while he was overdubbing.

That's a sick, sick solo.


Anonymous said...

Great post, Search And Destroy has been a hot topic among collectors for years, with Iggy muddying the water with his remix.

The 1997 remix wouldn't be too bad if it wasn't compressed to hell and back.

The WABX Broadcast would be the definitive version had it been mixed better, it certainly was recorded in higher quality than the studio version.

Overall, the 1973 mono mix sounds best to these ears, sound-damaged as they are.

Anonymous said...

Lovely post - thanks for the various perspectives on a great song. My own teenage years were soundtracked by the first two Stooges albums rather than Raw Power but that intro always makes the hairs stand up on my neck...

Anonymous said...

the 45 mix of Search & Destroy and Penetration (previously only available on the very rare stock copies of the 45) are in print on 45 w/a picture sleeve from Sundazed Records. Best way to hear both tunes for my money. btw the best pressings were the old Dutch CBS pressings from the early 70' which sound better than the US and UK versions. Ron Asheton agrees that Iggy's remix was awful, all he did was remove the effects from the guitar and crank up his vocal. The guitars and vocal sounded fine on the original, it's the bass and drums (audible on the WABX tape that needs to be brought back in the mix). The Stooges are playing in NYC on Aug. 8th. best, The Hound

frankenslade said...

Excellent tale and contrasting versions. I'm a Fun House guy myself, but Raw Power is a bizarre, energetic slab of vinyl in its original forms.

Shawn Mitchell said...

Well, that's some consolation, then. I was with the girl who was subleasing there. She was tall, glasses? Anyway, yes, I like this.

Anonymous said...

"...and after explaining to my son about The Stooges..."

Curious to know what you said to him. I've got girls and every time I try to "explain" something like this they look at me like I'm crazy.

Ted Barron said...

something along the lines of: "these are the stooges - they were great - we need to go buy this record now - put on your shoes and i'll buy you an ice cream cone"

sroden said...

hey brother, i'm with ya! i was so friggin excited for that record to come out on cd until heard it and i hated it. i still have my totally f-ed up lp from childhood and i LOVED how that record sounded then, and i still do now. maybe because i listened to it so much, the sound is connected to a time. i don't know why these folks have to go back in time and re-do something. obviously the artist has a choice to 'right the ship' if they are unhappy, but jeez, it's such a seminal record... in some cases once the work goes out into the world, you don't own it anymore... but i know tons of folks who like the new version better, go figure. anyways i simply had to say i feel your pain, and thanks for posting this stuff, and now i go dig out my own copy.

MJG196 said...

Thank you so much for this! I am with the rest of you: Iggy's mix is garbage!