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In The Hands Of The Fans: Raw Power Live – Blu-ray Review

Monday, December 5th, 2011

Studio: MVD Visual
Release Date: 09/27/2011
Director: Joey Carey/Luis Valdez
Cast: Iggy, The Stooges
Reviewed By: Mark Tolch

You can’t keep a good Stooge down. You can try, but it won’t happen. The usual pitfalls that bands wander into have tried to break up the Stooges, and were unsuccessful. Severe drug addiction made an attempt and managed to cause an extended break, but ultimately failed. The death of key band members will usually win out in the end, but not even that could keep the legacy of Iggy Pop and Co from rocking on into the 21st century. Indeed, with the death of influential powerhouse guitarist and founding Stooge Ron Asheton, it seemed that the surprising reunion of America’s greatest rock n’ roll band had been dealt a punishing blow from which it would not recover. But not being one to take a bitchslap from death seriously (original bassist Dave Alexander being the first, later replaced by Mike Watt), the remaining Stooges pulled a mid-game lineup change and stuck James Williamson on guitar. And surprisingly…it worked. For fans of the band, the “original lineup” was lacking in one area; their refusal to play anything from their 1973 swansong, Raw Power, until the last year before Ron’s death. Essentially re-creating the personnel roster from that era, the band ripped through Brazil, Canada and the U.S., blowing fans’ minds…and proving that The Stooges hadn’t lost any of their edge.

2010 would prove to be a banner year for The Stooges; first, with their well-deserved induction into the Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame, and secondly, with a blistering performance at the All Tomorrow’s Parties Festival in New York, presented in Iggy and the Stooges – Raw Power Live: In the Hands of the Fans. Filmed by six contest winners who submitted youtube videos documenting why they should have a chance to film the band, including one Edwin Samuelson of AVManiacs/Cinephiles fame,Raw Power Live shows the band the way these six fans want them presented; up close and personal, with warts and all. And it does get ugly as the band performs tracks from all three Stooges albums as well as the Williamson/Pop collaboration Kill City. Sweat lashes off of trashmaster Iggy as he punishes the crowd with profanity and a voice that can still raise the hairs on the back of your neck with its intensity, while rock guitar god James Williamson, despite not having played guitar for over 35 years, sends sonic shocks of pure energy into the crowd. Mike Watt and Scott Asheton hunker down on the back line and provide a steady, swampy rhythm, with Watt occasionally allowing his head to pop up out of his zone to see what’s going on. The audience gets right into the performance, shouting out lyrics with pumping fists, and security definitely looks worried as the crowd are invited onto the stage for Shake Appeal. Iggy’s tolerance during this segment should be noted as many of the intoxicated fans take their time leaving the stage afterward, and Watt’s bass takes a noticeable detuning bump in the process. All things considered, this presentation is about as good as it gets (and as somebody who has seen the Stooges in both incarnations, as close as you can get to actually seeing them live), with fast cuts between the “fans” cameras enhancing the experience. As the show winds down to the end, The Stooges break out some other tunes, such as I Got A Right and Beyond The Law. As Steve Mackay rips through some wild sax riffs to Funhouse’s 1970, it’s hard to believe that it’s actually 40 years later.

Video:

MVD’s blu-ray of Raw Power Live: In the Hands of the Fans is presented in a 1080i, 1.78:1 transfer, and it looks decent enough, given the source material. With six cameras in the theatre, some of them right down in front of the stage, the camera work is not guaranteed to be the most articulate, so a little ugliness is to be expected. Still, the transfer is good, with minimal artifacts and other issues.

Audio:

The audio tracks on this release are a bit puzzling, as you are given the option of a PCM 2.0 track, or a Dolby Digital 5.0 track. Despite its lossy format, the Dolby Digital track is 640Kbps and sounds great, with the surrounds offering some ambient crowd noise. The mix is also well done, with Pop’s vocals clear and consistent throughout, and James Williamson’s guitar punching through the mix with just the right amount of intensity. Asheton and Watt’s rhythm section pounds along nicely as well, though the bass is not as pronounced as it should be.

Extras:

MVD has been kind enough to include some pretty decent extras on this disc, the first being the Fans Interview The Stooges, which runs 44 minutes. Made up of an interview panel of the fans who won the youtube contest, the band is present here, minus Mr. Watt who may have been nursing his broken leg. Without the stage providing energy, the band is very laid back and amiable for the most part; especially Iggy, who seems to have adopted the role of Captain Klonopin, answering questions while playing with his feet. Although Iggy does seem to dominate most of the speaking parts, Williamson and Scott Asheton manage to get their opinions heard when Iggy drifts off into space or puts on a pair of slippers. No topic seems to be off-limits, and everything from the recording of Raw Power to the band’s influences and the importance of Ron Asheton and bands covering The Stooges is talked about. “The 90’s sucked without you!” exclaims contest winner Edwin Samuelson….and he’s right. It’s good to have the Stooges back.

Next up are the Fan Submission Videos that won the “In the Hands of the Fans” contest…ranging from the interesting to the downright scary. Not to point fingers, but it’s a wonder that some people were allowed in the same room as Iggy and Co, with some of the interviewers ranging from “I’ll eat your babies!” excited to downright comatose.

Iggy and Dick Manitoba Promos runs about 5 minutes and features Iggy with his Handsomeness, Mr. Dick Manitoba of the Dictators promoting the contest.

Also worth mentioning are Mike Watt’s awesome liner notes, which detail his experiences as a Stooge-For-Hire.

Overall:

If you’re a fan, you should get this into your hands. With a rad performance and some nifty extras, it makes no sense to punish your fan hands any longer; pick up Iggy and the Stooges – Raw Power Live: In The Hands of the Fans.

Special Thanks To Ian Jane For Images.

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