Monday, February 11, 2013


Once upon a time I was at a nightclub in Soho called Alice In Wonderland and I was drunk and on my own. It was late, around 3am, and maybe the people I’d been talking to had gone, or maybe I’d just staggered off – I can’t remember. I was wobbling a little so I leaned against a speaker column for support. The volume of the music was loud, very loud, but it passed me by, it meant nothing. I watched the little goth-ettes and the Japanese tourists in their bondage gear and I carried on drinking.
Then something unforeseeable occurred. Behind my head someone belched loudly and I was immediately assailed by the sound of electric guitars. Piling in after them, hot in pursuit and dangerous with it, were bass, drums and some weird high-pitched percussion. I nearly fell down, but I gathered what I could of my faculties and realised that I knew this noise. It was Iggy And The Stooges, “Raw Power”, and sure enough there was Iggy suggesting that I:
   “Dance to the beat of the living dead, lose sleep baby and stay away from bed”
I didn’t dance of course; I was transfixed, motionless. The noise filled my ears and the man sang straight at me:
   “Raw power is sure to come a-runnin’ to you”
My eyes widened. I had heard the record many times but never before had I understood that:
   “Raw power got a healing hand, raw power can destroy a man”
As if that were not enough, the beat kept lurching like an engine backfiring, keeping the guitars locked in and furiously hammering for escape. It stopped and started so fast, like an unmanned piston. Enraged beyond all reason, the man called Pop complained bitterly:
   “Ev’rybody always tryin’ to tell me what to do”
Before issuing a warning:
   “doncha try, doncha try to tell me what to do”

By this time, the high-pitched percussion thing had lodged itself between my ears and I began to lose focus. Manfully I struggled to clear my head. I took another pull on my bottle and lit a cigarette. I looked at the swaying array of girls and through the mist I heard another suggestion:
   “Look in the eye of the savage girl, fall deep in love in the underworld”
And again the assurance:
  “Raw power is sure to come a-runnin’ to you”
I took a few steps, tottered, and retreated feeling foolish.
   “Raw power, honey, it don’t want to know”
No indeed. In fact:
   “Raw power is a-laughin’ at you and me”
I felt glad that I wasn’t alone and as, relief swelled in my heart, I heard the question: 
   “Can ya feee-eel it? Uh, can ya feee-eel it?”
Gulping in assent, I felt the pit of my stomach fall through the floor and I stood rigid as a lead guitar appeared from nowhere and pinned me to the wall. The bayonet twisted again and again, it was evil and savage and it killed mercilessly and without remorse.
The record finished. Another record came on and I didn’t hear it. I shambled over to the DJ booth – I had to see the sleeve. Bemused and detached as always, Christian passed me a record cover with no writing on the front, just a picture of a young man, stripped to the waist, who looked damned and defiant. He looked unreachable. I knew the sleeve of course, but this was an original issue, without the tacky lettering that CBS had seen fit to add to the sleeve of the re-issue that I possessed. I handed it back, said something like goodbye and made my way to the exit. I collected my coat and smiled at Queen Alex who smiled back, quizzically penetrating me from the corners of her false eyelashes. I left quickly, and walked home.
All the way back I heard it: that broken rhythm, that non-tune.
   “Raw power got a magic touch, raw power is a much too much”
The song stayed with me for weeks, I had to have it at least once a day, pure compulsion. Even now, years later, I have to have a re-charge before too long. It’s the truth: there are no lies in that song, nothing about it is false, and its desperation at its forbidden knowledge creates a kind of wanton celebration virtually unique in white rock music – indeed, virtually unique outside the work of Iggy And The Stooges. This Raw Power is eternal.
   “Can ya fee-eeel it?”

No comments:

Post a Comment