Fun House (The Stooges album)

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Fun House
Studio album by The Stooges
Released 7 July 1970
Recorded 11–25 May 1970 at Elektra Sound Recorders, LA
Genre Hard rock, avant-garde rock, proto-punk, punk jazz
Length 36:35
Label Elektra
Producer Don Gallucci
The Stooges chronology
The Stooges
(1969)
Fun House
(1970)
Raw Power
(1973)
Alternative covers
2005 reissue sleeve

Fun House is the second studio album by American rock band The Stooges. It was released on 7 July 1970 through Elektra Records. Though initially commercially unsuccessful, Fun House developed a strong cult following and, like its successor (1973's Raw Power), is generally considered integral in the development of punk rock.

Recording sessions[edit]

Even though Elektra Records' Jac Holzman believed that the MC5 had more potential than The Stooges, he made the crucial intervention to ask former Kingsmen keyboardist Don Galluci to produce the album. Having seen the group live, Galluci told Holzman that The Stooges were an "interesting group, but I don't think you can get this feeling on tape". Holzman said it didn't matter because he had already reserved recording time in L.A. The album was recorded at Elektra Sound Recorders in Los Angeles, California from 11 May to 25 May 1970.[1] Galluci's plan as a producer was to use each day to record about a dozen takes of a particular song and then pick the one that would appear on the album. The first day consisted of sound checking and run-throughs of all songs. The entire band used headphones with the bass and drums isolated by baffles while Iggy Pop sang his vocals through a condenser microphone on a boom.[2]

The result was terrible in the band's opinion. They took exception to the atmosphere inside the studio with sound-proof paddings and isolators. To achieve their vision, The Stooges and Galluci stripped the entire studio of its usual gear to emulate their live performances as closely as possible. According to Galluci, they set up the band in the way they normally play at a concert. For example, Iggy was singing through a hand-held microphone, and the guitar and bass amps were placed side by side. The results were very raw when compared to many contemporary records; for example, without the normal isolation baffles the vibrations from the bass amplifier cause audible rattling of the snare drum on several songs.

Iggy Pop indicated that iconic blues singer Howlin' Wolf "was really pertinent for me on Fun House. That stuff is Wolfy, at least as I could do it."[3]

The Stooges intended for "Loose" to be the album's first track; Elektra, however, felt that "Down on the Street" would be the stronger opener.[4]

An alternate version of "Down on the Street", featuring a Doors-style organ overdubbed by Gallucci, was pulled from the album and released as a single.[4] It was released the same month as Fun House, and fared slightly better on the charts.

Music and lyrics[edit]

According to Billboard magazine, Fun House is set in hard rock and improvisation.[5] Music critic Robert Christgau characterized the album as "genuinely 'avant-garde' rock" because of the music's apt "repetitiveness", "solitary new-thing saxophone", and "L.A. Blues", which showcases the "old avant-garde fallacy ... trying to make art about chaos by reproducing same."[6] Greg Kot called Fun House "the Stooges' punk jazz opus".[7]

In 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die (2005), music journalist Stevie Chick wrote that the sleazy tales of hedonism and reckless abandon on the album's first half are followed by "the comedown", as evoked by looser song structures, Steve Mackay's freeform saxophone, and "Iggy sounding like a scared, lost child, warning from bitter experience that 'The Fun House will steal your heart away.'"[8] "L.A. Blues" concludes the album with a flurry of noise and disoriented dual drumming, which Stylus Magazine's Patrick McNally interpreted as the Stooges being "lost culturally and spiritually in the smoke and riots and confusion of Detroit and America at the dawn of the seventies, but also in the overwhelming squall and clatter of the sound that they—from nothing, from nowhere—managed to create."[9]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 5/5 stars[10]
Robert Christgau A–[11]
eMusic 5/5 stars[12]
Entertainment Weekly A+[13]
Mojo 5/5 stars[14]
Pitchfork Media 9.4/10[15]
Q 4/5 stars[16]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide 5/5 stars[17]
Stylus Magazine A[9]
Uncut 5/5 stars[14]

In a contemporary review, Charles Burton of Rolling Stone magazine found Fun House "much more sophisticated" than the Stooges' debut and said that they are "so exquisitely horrible and down and out that they are the ultimate psychedelic rock band in 1970."[18] In a negative review, Roy Hollingworth of Melody Maker called it the worst album of the year and described it as "a muddy load of sluggish, unimaginative rubbish heavily disguised by electricity and called American rock."[19] Robert Christgau, writing in The Village Voice, gave it a "B+" and said that the Stooges' competent monotony and incorporation of saxophone have intellectual appeal, but questioned whether it is good if "I have to be in a certain mood of desperate abandon before I can get on with them musically."[20] He later said that his original grade was based on the album's "inaccessibility" as popular music.[21] Christgau gave it an "A–" in a 1981 review and elaborated on its musical significance:

Now I regret all the times I've used words like 'power' and 'energy' to describe rock and roll, because this is what such rhetoric should have been saved for. Shall I compare it to an atom bomb? a wrecker's ball? a hydroelectric plant? Language wasn't designed for the job.[6]

In a retrospective review, Allmusic's Mark Deming hailed Fun House as "the ideal document of The Stooges at their raw, sweaty, howling peak", and wrote that it features better songs than their debut, significant improvement from each member, and Don Gallucci's energetic and immediate production.[10] Dalton Ross of Entertainment Weekly wrote that the "radical" album sounded "primal, unpredictable, dangerous."[13] Pitchfork Media's Joe Tangari felt that the music's aggression has rarely been matched. He recommended it to "any rock fan with a sense of history" and asserted that, along with the Stooges' debut, Fun House is one of the most important predecessors to the punk rock movement.[15] Barney Hoskyns called it a "proto-punk classic".[22]

In 2003, Rolling Stone ranked Fun House number 191 on their list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.[23] Melody Maker said that it is, "no contest, the greatest rock n' roll album of all time".[24] Lenny Kaye, writing for eMusic, called it a "rock and roll classic" and "one of the most frontal, aggressive, and joyously manic records ever".[12] In The Rolling Stone Album Guide (2004), Scott Seward claimed that, although saying so "risks hyperbole", Fun House is "one of the greatest rock & roll records of all time" and that, "as great as they were, the Stones never went so deep, the Beatles never sounded so alive, and anyone would have a hard time matching Iggy Pop's ferocity as a vocalist."[17]

Influence[edit]

Australian band Radio Birdman chose their name based on mishearing the line "radio burnin' up above" in the song "1970". They also named their Oxford Street performance venue The Oxford Funhouse and covered "TV Eye" on their 1977 album Radios Appear.[citation needed]

John Zorn covered "T.V. Eye" for Rubáiyát: Elektra's 40th Anniversary: the same song was also covered for the glam rock film Velvet Goldmine by a supergroup featuring original Stooges guitarist Ron Asheton and members of Sonic Youth, with actor Ewan McGregor on vocals. The Birthday Party covered "Loose" on their 1982 live album Drunk on the Pope's Blood and, also live, the song "Funhouse": a version with sax played by J.G. Thirlwell appears on the 1999 CD The Birthday Party Live 81-82. The Damned's 1977 debut album, Damned Damned Damned, features a cover of "1970," entitled "I Feel Alright". Depeche Mode covered "Dirt" on their I Feel Loved single. Hanoi Rocks cover "1970" (titled "I Feel Alright") on their 1984 live album All Those Wasted Years. Spacemen 3 adapted "T.V. Eye" into the near-cover "OD Catastrophe" on their debut album Sound of Confusion. Michael Monroe also covered the song for his Another Night in the Sun live album in 2010. In 1989 indie rock band Blake Babies covered "Loose" for their album Earwig. They sampled Iggy's voice into the song. Rage Against the Machine recorded a cover of "Down on the Street" on their 2000 covers album Renegades. A cover of "Dirt" appears on disc one of Screeching Weasel's 1999 double CD compilation "Thank You Very Little". In 2010, the Nigerian songwriter Billy Bao and his band, went in to the studio exactly 40 years after the recording of "Fun House" and recorded their album "Buildings from Bilbao" using all titles and song times for their own songs (except 1970 which is updated as 2010 and L.A. Blues which is called LAGOS Blues).[citation needed]

Numerous other musical artists have cited Fun House as their favorite album, including Joey Ramone, Mark E. Smith, Jack White, Nick Cave, Henry Rollins (along with The Velvet Underground's White Light/White Heat), Buzz Osborne from the Melvins, Aaron North, Maciej Cieślak from the Polish band Ścianka, and musician/engineer Steve Albini.[citation needed]

In 1999, Rhino Records released a limited edition box set, 1970: The Complete Fun House Sessions, featuring every take of every song from every day of the recording sessions, plus the single versions of "Down on the Street" and "1970". On 16 August 2005, the album was reissued by Elektra and Rhino as a two-CD set featuring a newly remastered version of the album on disc one and a variety of outtakes (essentially highlights from the Complete Fun House Sessions box set) on disc two. Jack White contributed a quote to Iggy biographer Paul Trynka's liner notes to the reissue, in which White dubbed Fun House "by proxy the definitive rock album of America".[citation needed]

In 2005, the Stooges performed the album live in its entirety as part of the All Tomorrow's Parties-curated Don't Look Back series.[citation needed] "Dirt" was ranked number 46 on Gibson's "Top 50 Guitar Solos" list in 2010.[25]

Track listing[edit]

All songs written and composed by The Stooges. 

Side one
No. Title Length
1. "Down on the Street"   3:42
2. "Loose"   3:33
3. "T.V. Eye"   4:17
4. "Dirt"   7:00
Side two
No. Title Length
5. "1970" (also known as "I Feel Alright") 5:14
6. "Fun House"   7:45
7. "L.A. Blues"   4:52
2005 reissue: Disc two
No. Title Length
8. "T.V. Eye (Takes 7 & 8)"   6:01
9. "Loose (Demo)"   1:16
10. "Loose (Take 2)"   3:42
11. "Loose (Take 22)"   3:42
12. "Lost in the Future (Take 1)"   5:50
13. "Down on the Street (Take 1)"   2:22
14. "Down on the Street (Take 8)"   4:10
15. "Dirt (Take 4)"   7:09
16. "Slide (Slidin' the Blues) (Take 1)"   4:38
17. "1970 (Take 3)"   7:29
18. "Fun House (Take 2)"   9:30
19. "Fun House (Take 3)"   11:29
20. "Down on the Street (Single Mix)"   2:43
21. "1970 (Single Mix)"   3:21

Personnel[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Funhouse 2005 Deluxe Edition booklet, pages 13–14.
  2. ^ Eric Rudolph (1 June 2000). "Rocking in the Studio With The Stooges: Inside "The Complete Fun House Sessions"". Mix. Retrieved 8 February 2012. 
  3. ^ "Iggy Pop: Chicago Blues". Rolling Stone (1119): 59. 9 December 2010. 
  4. ^ a b Liner notes of 1970: The Complete Fun House Sessions.
  5. ^ "Album Reviews". Billboard: 36. September 19, 1970. Retrieved June 27, 2013. 
  6. ^ a b Christgau, p. 376.
  7. ^ Kot, Greg (October 21, 2005). "Gris Gris takes garage rock on a rocket ride". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved June 27, 2013. 
  8. ^ Chick et al. 2010, p. 214.
  9. ^ a b McNally, Patrick (August 18, 2005). "The Stooges – The Stooges / Fun House – Review". Stylus Magazine. Retrieved June 27, 2013. 
  10. ^ a b Deming, Mark. "Fun House – The Stooges". Allmusic. Retrieved June 27, 2013. 
  11. ^ Christgau 1981, p. 376.
  12. ^ a b Kaye, Lenny (January 11, 2010). "Stooges, Funhouse [Deluxe Edition]". eMusic. Retrieved June 27, 2013. 
  13. ^ a b Ross, Dalton (April 2007). "Then and Now". Entertainment Weekly (New York): 66. 
  14. ^ a b "Fun House CD". Rakuten.com. Muze. Archived from the original on June 27, 2013. Retrieved June 27, 2013. 
  15. ^ a b Tangari, Joe (August 17, 2005). "The Stooges: The Stooges / Fun House". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved June 27, 2013. 
  16. ^ "Review: Fun House". Q (London): 119. January 1991. 
  17. ^ a b Seward et al. 2004, p. 786.
  18. ^ Burton, Charles (October 29, 1970). "Funhouse". Rolling Stone (New York). Retrieved June 27, 2013. 
  19. ^ Hollingworth, Roy (December 26, 1970). "The Stooges: Fun House (Elektra)". Melody Maker (London). 
  20. ^ Christgau, Robert (November 19, 1970). "Consumer Guide (14)". The Village Voice (New York). Retrieved June 27, 2013. 
  21. ^ Christgau 1981, p. 5.
  22. ^ Hoskyns 2009, p. 271.
  23. ^ "The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time". Rolling Stone (New York): 136. December 11, 2003. 
  24. ^ Melody Maker (London): 34. February 19, 1994. 
  25. ^ "Gibson.com's Top 50 Guitar Solos of All Time – 50-41". Gibson.com. 20 September 2010. Retrieved 8 February 2012. 

Bibliography[edit]

External links[edit]