Raw Power Power

James Williamson in the early 70s, setting the footwear standard for Kiss

In a recent conversation with James Williamson for the book Detroit Rock City, I asked about the Vox amp he used to record during Raw Power, and about his guitars over the years:
While doing Raw Power it became apparent that the 100 watt Marshall stack was overwhelming the mics at the CBS studios and so we sent out for several others to try. Through trial and error, I ended up with a JMI VOX Bass Cut, Treble Boost AC30 combo and that’s what I did all the rhythm tracks and many of the solos on. I also did a few solos on the Marshall. Never used a pedal or effect box of any kind on that album, or live for that matter.
I only had a few guitars up until recently really. I started with on old F hole Sears archtop that I got from my Uncle, then progressed to my first electric, which I got in downtown Detroit, but forget the name of the place, a big store, which was a White Fender Jaguar. Then I got a few in succession; a ES 335, Thinline Telecaster, and a Gibson SG since I knew a guy who had some guitars that “fell off a truck” and got them cheap. I started in the Stooges with just the Gibson SG, and I still had the Jaguar though. At the end of 1971 I decided I needed to move to a Les Paul for the sound I wanted to get. Iggy know the owner of the music store in Ann Arbor and we both went in to negotiate with him and I ended trading both the SG and the Jaguar for the new Les Paul Custom. He got the better of that deal, but oh well. I have that Les Paul to this day, it’s what I used for Raw Power, Kill City and all the live shows. I did have one of two transition guitars that I’d used to beat up on stage but the Les Paul was my axe. While in London I also got a Gibson B-25 natural acoustic, that was the guitar that I wrote most of the riffs that we used in Raw Power on. I would just sit up in my room and play and play until I got something.

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