Julian Cope presents Head Heritage

The Stooges—
Fun House


Released 1970 on Elektra
The Seth Man, August 2000ce
Never was a band so tight yet loose, sticking its slick appendage into the fertile “O” mind in a perfect consummatin’ pileup of redoubtable high rush of living in a rockin’, funkin’, unblinkin’ bulls eye as was ever hit on spastic plastic. Conceived from limitations so severe yet creating a space so huge that the band allows itself to run rampant freely with abandon. The entire album does somersaults while engaging in all manner of looseness like an amphetamine/jalapeno enema-ed James Brown leading a non-blues, live 1972 Stones into a fuzz maelstrom of falling rocks with severe self-esteem problems. The level that “Fun House” operates on is a functional, mind/body re-connector whose exercising of rhythms gets into your bones, brain and enlarges synaptic channels into six lane highways. But wait: you got to eat, wear clothing, work, do laundry, dishes, homework, got to the bathroom, check your hygiene, balance your bankbook, feed the dog, check the mail, buy groceries, say “hello” to the neighbour you don’t even know -- all the same basic stupid stuff you ‘have’ to do. But what keeps you sane? What makes you feel alive and isn’t a lie or something you gotta buy all the time?

This record. And make sure it’s turned all the way up, baybuh.

Captured by Don Gallucci in 3-D stereo, it will animate both mind and body in its veritable bonfire, casting your body on the wall as an animated shadow as the animalistic pull and push rhythms fiercely co-join Iggy’s trapped-into-paranoid-haiku-corners lyrics via his brilliant, feeling mind that tightropes between verbal ad-libbing and punctuations of “Yow!”/“All-roight!”/“Uhn!”/“Ssscchwgot!” sucking air through the microphone as entire phrases get streaked in a non-literal communiqué so rhythmically correct and it channels through the heated loudness of two studio P.A.s in real time with the band blasting out live avant heavy rock behind him through two more stacks of their own: One to the groove-locked bass of Dave Alexander and the other to Ron Asheton’s Strato-fuckin’-caster. His bro, Rock “Scott” Action nails down everything with a beat about as insistent as a fleeing mother’s heartbeat felt by her infant pressed to her bosom as she flees certain danger.

“Down On The Street” opens the album, and the “place where the faces shine” is detailed not so much in words (because there aren’t that many on “Fun House” -- there are just enough) but in its hyper aware, pavement pounding beat. Ron Asheton’s guitar playing here and throughout the entire album is like none other on record. You’d be hard-pressed to find any semblance of comparison with any other guitarist who preceded him, lamely concluding some of the heavier elements of British Invasion the likes of The Kinks or mebbe Hendrix. But there really is NO GUITARIST like Ron Asheton, and never will be again, ever. Never did an autodidact loom so confident -- On “Fun House”, Ron laid down the SOLOS in real time, overdubbing the RHYTHMS afterwards (wherever they were needed), so what does that tell you?! They had been performing these tracks live for the past several months leading up to the recording of this album, and what they recorded here was their set list from the time. THEIR SET LIST...Oh, fuck, that’s perfect. The great “Loose” follows, horny as hell, Iggy’s vocals roar out of the studio P.A. as the three other Stooges are locked into a sex drive groove so real and furiously hammering it’s a sweaty copulatin’ fever dream. Now taken out of context, it could be quite easily misconstrued as crass, macho, cock ‘o the walk promenading (which it is, anyway) but it’s also total cut to the chase, ‘Let’s do it’ minus the usual hammy mating shadowplay of flowers and romantic verse trappings, and there’s no time for courting or chivalry as it’s the weekend, and you’re young, confused and just beginning to sense that burning inside you that drives you crazy, makes you wake up shivering for no reason at 3:00am and generally keeps you restless and yearning for that thing that’s gonna make everything all right. Hormones in bloom have enough energy to keep a major metropolis lit for a year, and with all the crazed, charged energy emanating forth from this album, it could probably keep a CONTINENT lit up for at least, uh...let’s say A YEAR as I don’t want to exaggerate too much. But those Asheton solos fit Escher figure-like into the down bound train that is the raging merge-out The Stooges achieve on every track.

A burning, splintery guitar solo follows, Asheton charting his own course upward but Scott and Dave intersect the heavily gridded though fluid rhythms into the approaching darkness. And that very same darkness is woven into the very analogue audio signal of the album. And that amplifier hum at the end of “Loose” is as integral a part of Ron Asheton’s sound as his white Stratocaster, his brain and his white shoes. The band sticks their collective fork into the electrical outlet for a third time with “T.V. Eye,” opening with a huge “LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOORD!” from Iggy as Alexander’s potato bass sprouts thick, spidery eyes in time-elapsed weirdness propulsion as another slashing Ron Asheton Strat barrage ensues. And Rock Action kicks the song’s ass over and over from Ann Arbor to the upper Michigan peninsula and back with a real driving beat. And just when they’ve been pulverising the song for minutes on end, it ends on a dime with constant Iggy roars of “BRAWWTHUH!” to total silence, only to return with the opening guitar riff and Rock cracks out single snare hits as the brothers Asheton and Iggy now end it all with a bass-less refrain and a crazed fuzz guitar coda finally seals it hermetically.

“Dirt” is where the frenzy is now a landscape of smoldering ashes, with burning, white-hot heat pulsating at its centre. Asheton’s fuzzed-out guitar and another cascading drum fill re-ignite to the core of the blaze, slouching through another chilly late night in Ypsilanti, heading back to Mom’s house alone.

“1970” opens with another Iggy holler, and he’s immediately into that crazed teenage head of doping yourself up into oblivion so you can just feel alive, a ju-ju-fried pinwheel on fire around the dance of existence, encircling it in patterns that seem to close tighter and tighter, but that’s just the illusion caused by the fiercely repeated patterning. Midway through, the carload of drunk on life Stooges pick up Steve Mackay and his alto sax, and his presence continues throughout the duration of the record, snaking and chasing the rock steady rhythms well into the oblivion of the set-ending “L.A. Blues” freeform. The title track begins with another ‘Zander badass bass, and Iggy claps his hands, cajoles the sax with cries of “BLOW, STEVE!” and trying to direct the tempo with “Hey, bring it douwn!” and “Oooof!” but he’s already so immersed in the groove he goes with it. And the song pummel funks it out until silence. Is the song really over? A swooping Asheton guitar howl and Iggy’s cat mate screech out vocals emerge as Iggy lets the feedback roll all over him like an undertow, aided and abetted by shrieking sax and a singularly hard pitter-patter of snares that crack with a natural feeling for time as brother Ron is busy fanning the amp with his now unstrapped Strat, for it is now the “L.A. Blues”, the behemoth of rock freeforms. By mid-take it’s a sheer wave/pulse and the signal is one of a roaring, ensnared beast at the end of a hunt, writhing and having successfully taken out the entire hunting party, is now copulating with the pretty young wife of the lead hunter, and she’s digging it deliciously, as her husband was a real cold fish who couldn’t ever enjoy himself and was a lousy lay to boot.

For those who think a review of this album at such a late stage in the game is redundant, well lemme say this: if there’s even ONE soul out there who cops this A-1 platter due to all this rambling, Rose, then that’ll more than qualify as worth re-iterating to those in the know. Because “Fun House” is a realigning, re-defining moment in Rock, and is the absolute bestest besides, Jackson.