on February 15, 2007
With the follow up to their eponymous debut, THE STOOGES make that "quantum leap" one often reads about, and in this case, FUN HOUSE is, in a word, stunning! Never pleasantly or hilariously "dumb" like the debut, FUN HOUSE is an amazing and perplexing advancement from that debut record which of and by itself would have sealed THE STOOGES' reputation. This band was even better than anyone could have ever guessed (though their record sales quickly relegated their two Elektra releases, the debut and FUN HOUSE, to the bargain bin). FUN HOUSE is jaw-droppingly unforgiving, a punch in the gut, a splash of acid in the face, hard power and hot metal, a lurching monster, referred to as "proto-punk" because of its influence on every Punk and Grunge band since, but really, such bands are belittled and reduced to mere "poodles" by this far-end risk that in fact is the most unique record of its era and a hybrid of 50s rock, 60s psychedelia, and that which was as yet unnamed (Punk) and no band has yet matched the achievement. Few records have predicted the coming decades as FUN HOUSE did in 1970, though typically unrecognized in its time. As Iggy Pop (a.k.a. Iggy Stooge) himself said, and to paraphrase, THE STOOGES could "eat all those poodles for breakfast." With a scorched earth policy that leaves no listener unscathed, this record is probably one of the most challenging records in the Rock n' Roll catalog, and not for the faint of heart, such as those moments all over the record when one hears Iggy blatantly snorting. If you ever listened to CAPTAIN BEEFHEART's TROUT MASK REPLICA you might get an idea of the accessibility of "L.A. Blues" which is a non-song cacophony of horror with the carnivorous animal Iggy loosed, roaring, and stalking the complacent world. But for the student and lover of Rock n' Roll, this record is a must. I think the primary reason Rock critics and diehard fans continue to cite THE STOOGES, especially FUN HOUSE, is because of the foresight of this material. The experimental aspect of the record is indicative of its era (it is completely un-commercial, but many bands included such material on their records in those days, though, frankly, lame by comparison) yet, like all three of THE STOOGES albums, FUN HOUSE never sounds dated. Tracks like the sustained tension of "Down On The Street", the superbly nasty and compelling "Loose," the luscious blues of "Dirt," the burping, mesmerizing "T.V. Eye," and the sucker-punch "1970," in which Iggy shrieks "...I feel alright" ending with a major snort (the sequel to "1969" when Iggy had "nuthin' ta do") are supremely realized and uncompromising, and if it weren't for their shocking effect, I'd be wearing a s**t eatin' grin. One of Rock's great romps, FUN HOUSE is not for the uninitiated, the timid, or uninspired. That being said, FUN HOUSE is one of the greatest records of Rock, a whole hell of a lot of fun, possibly my all time favorite, and one of the very few records of Rock that upon listening to for the first time I said to myself, "WOW!" In another word, a masterpiece.