Posts Tagged ‘the stooges’

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The Stooges: Fun House (2CD expanded edition)

December 2, 2013

the_stooges_-_fun_house_-_front

Roll: 6-3-11
Album: The Stooges, Fun House (2CD expanded edition)

A lot of people cite The Stooges‘ self-titled, proto-punk/garage rock debut as their best. For others it’s the glam-rock third album, Raw Power, a platter I have never been able to understand the appeal of. I’ve always fallen into the equally vocal third camp—those who understand Fun House (1970) is probably not only their best offering, but is possibly the best album from an era chock-a-block with seminal titles.

Placed against it’s contemporaries, Fun House sounds conspicuously timeless. Great as they might be, albums such as Led Zeppelin III, CCR‘s Cosmo’s Factory, Velvet Underground‘s Loaded, and Curtis by Mr. Mayfield all sound cemented to the knees in their own era. Not only do both albums issued by Sabbath that year sound positively dated in comparison, Fun House makes MC5‘s Back In The USA sound like The Bay City Rollers

Let me say that again. This album makes the god-damned MC5 sound like The Bay City Rollers.

But that’s not the only sacred ground this juggernaut tramples over. The free-jazz freak-out that closes the album, “L.A. Blues“, utterly destroys the idea Coltrane or Pharoah Sanders were fearless cosmic travelers and reveals the borders they stepped back from. It’s simultaneously a sneering condemnation of jazz expressionism being placed on a pedestal and supposed “rock’n’roll” music being made palatable for suburban living room stereos. It’s like The Stooges understood that The Who were best while destroying their instruments for shock value and all they needed was a saxophonist having a seizure to make it art. They also clued-in that Coltrane just needed a blown-out Marshall stack to make Ascension punk rock.

Not that Fun House doesn’t have it’s share of late-60’s psychedelic trappings—wah-wah abounds in a way that, until recently, would have been seen as a trifle old fashioned. Perhaps that’s what makes the album feel so fresh. When today’s young psychedelic rockers look to the past, they’re not looking to Zeppelin, Sabbath, and Floyd (and certainly not Hendrix or The Doors), they’re looking to tunes like “T.V. Eye” and VU’s “Sister Ray“—equally as psychedelic as “Dazed and Confused” but with a stripped-down, stream-lined, modern approach that time rolls off of like water on the proverbial duck’s back.

If these tunes sound dated at all, it’s how they sound like Mudhoney or early Nirvana could have recorded them twenty years later. Or Human Eye and Destruction Unit a full 43 years later.

The second disc of this expanded re-issue  doesn’t offer up any surprises, or previously unheard compositions, but it does toss in some nice treats such as a nearly 12-minute version of the title track in among a plethora of alternative takes of every song except, unfortunately, “L.A. Blues”. These alternates range from trashy to messy, but are all of surprisingly decent quality, even when they shudder to a halt. Like many reissues, the essentiality of the second disc comes down to weather or not if you always felt the original album was far too short at 36 minutes and change in length. An unquestionable high-water mark for punk, psychedelia and just plain rock’n’roll in general, you can decide if you require another 70 minutes of material after you listen below…