Saturday, November 5, 2016

By Sean Wu

On Friday, November 4th, FilmScene began screening the new documentary from Jim Jarmusch, Gimme Danger, explores the influential proto-punk act famously led by Iggy Pop, the Stooges. In celebration of the movie and the Stooges, the Bijou Blog will be posting reviews of the Stooges first three albums. Next up, 1970’s Funhouse.

The seventies were a new decade for music – new sounds, new style, new life. This is absolutely evident in Funhouse, an outstanding and cohesive masterpiece of proto-punk. In just seven songs and thirty-six minutes, the Stooges leave the listener absolutely shook.

The last album was introduced with a song called “1969” that set the stage for what would follow. Funhouse also has a song named after a year - “1970”. This song is in the middle of the album. Why? I have no idea. But I like to think that as an example of form imitating function, a majority of Funhouse is ahead of its time, ahead of 1970. Whereas the rest of The Stooges after “1969” hung in the shadow of its year, Funhouse stands above it.

Gone is producer John Cale, now there is Don Gallucci behind the console. Music of the seventies embodied a new sound, and compared to their self-titled debut, the Stooges definitely have a new sound here. It is hard to judge each song individually here, because each functions as a valuable cog in the great machine of the album. Each song is sonically alike enough to give Funhouse cohesion, but also distinct enough for each to be unique, a different favorite for anyone who listens. Personally my favorite song is the second on the tracklist “Loose”.

In every way, the Stooges improve here. Slow songs like “Dirt” still find ways to engage, unlike the dreadful “We Will Fall” off the previous record. Iggy Pop sounds more animalistic, feral, and wild. The band’s punk sound is the beauty of organized chaos arranged on tape.

Album standouts, besides “Loose”, include opener “Down on the Street” and sax-heavy songs “1970” and “Fun House”.

This album is so good that it makes me wish I could use a time machine to see Iggy Pop and the Stooges live at their prime. Funhouse has energy and immediacy. It is an important, iconic, and unforgettable record.

Sean Wu is both a movie and music lover. He is currently a part of Bijou Horizons. More of his writing can be read here.