Iggy Pop. He'll soon get an OAPs bus pass and he still prances round the stage like he's 18 and loaded on ketamine. As much as he can run rings around any new musician, this album is the best he has ever produced. Let's just get to the point here. This album created punk rock. This album invented Sonic Youth. This album was regarded by Lester Bangs as one of the best albums of all time. This album simply rocks. At its most primal, most fun, most dangerous. If you have never heard it, you are in for a real treat, as the new remastering job is superb, and the bonus tracks very enjoyable. However nothing can beat the force of 1970, when the free jazz saxophone solo kicks in...the future is born. I love this album-could write about it forever, but I'm not-instead I'm gonna go into the other room, crank up Down on the Street and throw myself around like an 18 year old on ketamine.
I remember my surprise when Nude & Rude - The best of Iggy Pop was released and there wasn't a single track from Funhouse on it. Surely this was The Stooges' finest hour - the one time when flawed (or maybe floored?) genius Iggy got everything right. Then it dawned on me, you just can't take a song from this album in isolation and clumsily wedge it into a 'best of'. This isn't so much a collection of songs but more a rock 'n' roll symphony in seven movements perfectly charting a trajectory from taut, muscular rock to pure primal noise. The album opens superbly with the driving, rhythmic 'Down on the Street' more direct, more pounding than anything on the first Stooges album then they effortlessly go up a gear with 'Loose': an incredibly catchy bass line underpins a superbly aggressive guitar workout. The onslaught continues with 'TV Eye', with its Stone Age drumming, ear splitting guitar, and Iggy's extraordinary primal scream. Where do you go from there? The album's centrepiece and one of the finest songs the Stooges recorded, 'Dirt'. It's a sexy, slow-burning, seven minute garage-blues workout - a million miles from the dull filler 'We Will Fall' on their first album. "Do you feel it when you touch me? There's a fire" recites Iggy. Dirt marks the turning point between the more structured songs on the first half of the record and the perfectly orchestrated degeneration into pure noise on the second half. This starts with '1970' which picks up where TV Eye left off but turns into an infectious wig-out with wailing saxophone joining in as the band whip themselves into a frenzy. Then comes the title track which is more a loose-limbed continuation on the same theme with blasting sax perfectly interwoven with Ron Asheton's guitar playing right from the word go and Iggy rapping at the mic, improvising off of the rhythm like some kind of garage rock James Brown. The Stooges start this album like a tightly coiled spring and unravel gloriously as the it progresses. Hence, L.A. Blues brings it to a close in the only possible way: complete meltdown. It's 5 minutes of pure discord which must have been recorded in a single take as it's impossible to imagine anybody putting themselves through that more than once. Yet it isn't unbearable or pointless as most tracks of its type usually are (who has ever listened to 'Revolution 9' by the Beatles more than once?). It has no lyrics, it has no tune, it has no need of either, it is a truly beautiful piece of noise. Essentially with Funhouse the Stooges are peeling away the layers of Rock n' Roll and stripping it back to find out what lays at the heart of their music and L.A blues is just that - a bit like a painting of a pure emotion. So there's only one way to listen to Funhouse: right through from start to finish and turned up as loud as possible. I personally find that it's the most cathartic experience rock 'n' roll has yet produced - This is the best of Iggy Pop.
If you haven't heard Funhouse, just buy it. It is difficult to believe that any other rock band could produce an album such as powerful as this. There is an undiluted arrogance, desperation and humour in this record that reflects the lives of the people who performed it. This is amongst the greatest rock music in history. It hasn't aged a minute. Funhouse convinces because, intentionally or not, there is a truth to it. The reason that this album's brutality cannot be compared to other rock bands (such as uriah heep commented on in other reviews) is because other groups music is "performance". This isn't an act. To create the music of the first three stooges albums, Iggy, at least, appears to have led an extremely destructive lifestyle. This is particularly evident on this album. It is understandable that few albums have this power, who in their right mind would want to experience iggy's lifestyle to reflect and produce such music.
I think Funhouse is flawless:- the production; magnificent singing; Ron Asheton's chiming, echoey, ghost guitar; the group's collective performance; even the (u.s.) album design. I am pleased that Iggy has finally reaped the rewards of his efforts. He is a fascinating character responsible for five of the the best albums ever made. This is his masterpiece, The star rating should be at six for this one.
Just under four decades since this one was released, and still punk has failed to produce anything as vicious, feral and aggressive as this here beauty despite valiant and noble attempts by such heroes as Henry Rollins and Nick 'The Stripper' Cave et al. All seven originals are absolute punk classics, from opener "Down On the Street" with its crunching riff to the spastic, convuluting, revolting ender "L.A. Blues."
The extra tracks are, incidentally, excellent. One gets a real, tangible insight into how the album got its unique energy -- live take after live take after live take, until the songs entered the band's very soul and the band's Detroit street soul enters the songs.
Few bands manage to make artistic progressions like these boys did at all, let alone in as short a time as the second album. Fun little garage rock classic, followed by this loose, vicious, verging-on-jazzy proto-punk definer, followed by an snarling slice of classic American rock with schorching hot guitar lines for zombies. To call this a sophomore slump, however, is totally correct: Iggy & co are so slumped by the second album they're neanderthal, and that's just what rock and roll was always about: music a chimp would be able to recreate. For an album that arrived so early in punk's history so long ago it sure does sound fresh to these ears.
I've always liked Iggy and the Stooges but yet I didn't have a lot of his/their stuff. In fact before this all I had was Iggy's Lust For Life album. What prompted me to buy Fun House was having read the biography, Open Up and Bleed, and then a sheer lack of anything new to listen to on my Xperia Z.
The only disappointment I feel about buying this album is that I didn't buy it sooner. It is totally amazing and kept me glued from the start and right up to the frezzied end with LA Blues.
People label it as "punk". It did go on to fuel the whole punk theme of the 70's but I have to say that nothing I've listened to that is labelled as being "punk" compares to what I hear on this album. It's rock at it's rawest. Nothing labelled "punk" has, will, or can equal it.
And I listen to it and sometimes I hear something "Bowie" in it and now I see how much David Bowie borrowed from the Stooges and their early stuff. I can understand why Bowie and Iggy worked so closely in the years that came after this.
I really really really can't recommend this album highly enough. It is raw American Rock music at its best!
The Stooges Fun House (2-CD Edition) (Elektra 1970/2005)
The crunchy raucous Stooges are well represented on this reissue of their second studio album. Not quite "The Definitive Rock Album of America" as boasted on cover sticker, Fun House with its accompanying CD of an exciting array of alternative is a very satisfying accessory to the 2CD version of the Stooges' debut. Fun House itself is not as easy on the ears as some contemporary rock records (e.g. Free's Fire & Water) and it does drag a tad on the second half of disc 1 in the more experimental stages, being very much of its time in a similar vein to The Doors. But, "Down On The Street", "Loose"(very Sex Pistols), "T.V. Eye" are classic exhilarating bloody pogo fodder. Among some brilliant and not so brilliant alternative takes/single mixes are a couple of rare tracks, including the interesting "Lost In The Future".
Go for this version over the single disc wherever possible. 2-CD Reissue Rating ****
More Stooges album reissues on CD: The Stooges (2-CD Edition) Raw Power (Deluxe Edition)
What an album. If punk was the logical successor to 50's rock n roll (Lemmy), it required someone to innovate a new approach to get us there. Maybe the Stooges invented nothing, but if so, they took what had been before and bent it with big hammers. It turns out they made a bridge from the past, to the future, and this album is it. If you are at all aware of rock in any of its varieties but haven't heard this before, you should after initial information overload, hear ALL those rock tunes you've loved since, here in embryo. Unusually frank recording (you can learn the details elsewhere) refreshed by quality remastering plus extra takes, most of which stand up nicely and give a glimpse of the creative process. Raw quality. 40 years ago this year, Strewth!
first of all, i'd just like to say that i don't understand why 1970's 'funhouse' is considered to be the best stooges album. Like the other 2 cds by this brilliant proto-punk band, its a classic. But better than 'raw power'? i think not. anyway, now that's off my chest, here's 'funhouse' track by track: 1. 'down on the street' is one of my very fave songs here. straight- up streetwise rock with a propelling beat. great opener. 10 2. 'loose' keeps up the standard. good garage-rock. love the vocals. although is it just me, or does the rhythm section sound a little similar to the first track? it loses a half. 9 1/2 3.my first thought was that if iggy kept repeating 'tv eye's chorus, this'd be a skipper. but listen past the slightly grating chorus to some amazing guitar work. overall a very good rock song. ig's growly voice works great. 8 1/2 4.'dirt' is truly the album's centrepiece. 7 blissful minutes of gritty, grimy, DIRTY rock. 10 5.'1970' is an updated version of '1969' from the first, self-titled stooges lp (also highly recommended, by the way). this song takes the angst and boredom of it's predecessor, turns it into rage and ANARCHY, and amplifies it. again, another great proto-punk-rocker. i hated it to begin with, but it now comes across as okay. so it gets a 7 1/2 or 8. 6.'funhouse'- well, at the moment, my feelings towards this penultimate track are somewhat neutral. but it might just grow. 6 7.i really cannot get along with 'la blues'. now, being a punk, i'm used to loads of noise (white light/white heat by the EXCELLENT velvet underground, anyone?), but after repeated listens, it's hardly grown at all. maybe some will love it and say it's the best track here, but not me. 1 so, there ya go. hope it helps. as a conclusion, if you're a hardened stooges fan and you don't own 'funhouse', you should do. buy now. if you're a newcomer, this should do nicely, albeit noisily, for you. to me 'funhouse' seems like the middle way between the debut album 'the stooges', which is just that little bit softer, and the 3rd and final studio album 'raw power', which is pure sonic carnage. overall, 'funhouse' is a brilliant proto-punk-rock album, play it at max volume, and surely a landmark recording. but as always, it's 'raw power' all the way, baby, and nuthin' else!
There's a bizarre trajectory for the Stooges' career - quite apart from their multiple break-ups and reformations leading up to their current active status, in their heyday - 1969-1970 - no-one bought their records and the press hated them. Which makes their legendary status today all the more bemusing, named as big influences on a great deal of modern music. It makes you wonder how records everyone despised could have such an impact.
That is, until you listen to it. Funhouse, The Stooges' second album and last under that name until 2007, is an amazing record and probably one of the finest ever made. The combined result of three drug addicts (and one sober guitarist) and virtually no musical talent, Funhouse is a swirling, psychedelic masterpiece that was at least a decade ahead of its time. Its sound, a distorted, hard-driving, hollering noise, predicted not only punk, but post-punk/nu-wave as well.
Even from opening track 'Down On The Street,' or the howling 'TV Eye' you can hear how influential the album was, and not just on punk; the song's bluesy yet somehow cinematic riff later covered by Rage Against The Machine, but you can hear its echoes right up to bands like The Strokes today. What's more, the seven, limping minutes of 'Dirt' were clearly an influence on Joy Division, its chiming, if less than competent, guitar parts sounding like they'd fit in on Unknown Pleasures.
Influential, loud and utterly brilliant, Funhouse is an essential album for any fan of punk, post-punk or music in general.
In 1970 the highly-regarded rock writer Lester Bangs wrote a very long two-part review of this short, 7 song LP for US rock magazine Creem, entitled 'Of Pop and Pies and Fun: A Program for Mass Liberation in the Form of a Stooges Review, or Who's The Fool'. It makes for a flawed, if impassioned read. Unfortunately, it only pays nominal attention to the particulars of this 36 minute chaotic cacophony. That is a real shame because though The Stooges follow-up to their self-titled debut doesn't provide immediate gratification, repeated listening reveals it to be an exhilarating LP. I know that through personal experience. Songs that I initially just heard as, slow-paced and overlong, with flat, bored cynical lyrics, and sludgy production values - such as the aggressive 'Dirt', cocky 'Fun House', and thuggish '1970' - eventually came alive to me as dense and claustrophobic-sounding thrashes, that featured Iggy's distorted vocal performances and disturbed lyrics, struggling to be heard above controlled feedback, droning bass lines, wah-wah guitar sounds, and the almost funky saxophone riffs of new member Steven Mackay, in a crowded but engrossing live-sounding mix.
Though I didn't like at it first, because it lacked the immediacy, pop sensibility, and rigid song structure of The Stooges, I have come to admire this frenetic collection of up- and down-beat material, which was masterminded by Don Gallucci, the lowly staff producer who had played on The Kingsmen's repetitious 'Louie Louie'. In that preference I am not alone: in 1998, the Paris-based music magazine Rock & Folk placed Fun House in its metaphorical 'discothèque idéale'.