MEMOS FROM A MUSIC FIEND
BY ALEJANDRO MAGAÑA
The Stooges: Fun House
Elektra Records, 1970
Well, well, well, look what turned 50 this year! Half a century ago this deliciously raucous set of blisterin’ howlers was unleashed upon the world and goddamn we are all the better for it!!! Have I the adjectival largesse to do justice to the way I feel about this record? It’s nigh impossible to lather your brain with the myriad infinitesimal things that shoot through my aorta and my cerebral cortex when I listen to this record. I mean I throw this on and play it LOUD and I swear it gives me superpowers!
So here’s my story with this album: It’s the mid-’90s, must be ‘96, and a couple of things have conspired to pique my interest in Iggy Pop’s first band The Stooges; the David Bowie-produced Iggy song “Lust for Life,” appearing appropriately in one of my favorite movies of that year, “Trainspotting,” and Jon Spencer saying in some interview that the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, who I was really into at the time, was nothing more than a homage to his biggest heroes, James Brown and The Stooges. As I’m inclined to do as a devourer of music, I take note and resolve to always look for Stooges stuff whenever I’m in a record shop. (To this day I always have a running list in my mind of stuff I intend to check out when I can find them.) For whatever reason, at that time the Stooges’ stuff wasn’t quite as ubiquitous as other classic rock. (It reminds me of another absolute favorite band that has exponentially grown in cult fandom in the last 20 years or so, The Kinks — I think it was that in the ‘90s heyday of CDs, many music labels didn’t really want to spend time and resources with any back catalogue stuff that wasn’t a surefire money maker. It seemed as though it was expensive OG vinyl copy or bust. This has changed in the last twenty years or so as vinyl is the only “hard copy” media that has actually risen in sales.)
One evening for whatever reason, I’m at a Blockbuster Music (remember that brief thing?) with a cup of coffee and I look through their racks and they have this album on CD and I take it to the “listening bar” and ask them to put it on for me. Suddenly that “Down On The Street” riff choogles into my ears, and then a couple measures in Iggy ‘whoops’ and howls and my serotonin blasts through my entire senses and this feeling that I’ve found what I’ve been looking for my entire life runs through my mind, and I’m sure I looked super stoned and had a goofy smile in that store as I pressed the skip button to check the next track, wanting to save the complete experience until I’m in the comfort of my home and can listen to the whole album straight through, and each intro to each song as I skip through is so magical, chaotic, blunt and fun. AND there’s fucking amazing skronkin’ saxophone on the back half of the album,(kinda ‘free’ like the type of jazz I’d just started checking out!)
Man, I bought that album for the first time immediately and went home and listened to it, chuffed and stoned, in its entirety, and then again. And again. Geezus, I’m telling y’all: it didn’t leave the rotation for many months and it still gets play on the reg from me. My god, I was in sonic ecstasy I tell you no lie and it has never ceased, I love absolutely LUVVV The Stooges from Ann Arbor Michigan, love all three albums they made, but this one, their sophomore effort, is my absolute favorite, a desert island disc for me, proto-punk and proto-metal, proto-noiserock, free jazz and groovin’ stoner funk all wrapped up in seven honkin squawkin feral phat scuzzy bangers that are all over in about 35 minutes. Yes, people tend to get a little hyperbolic about this record, but for good reason: there is simply nothing else quite like it; its T-U-F-F like a gang of biker lab monkeys who’ve escaped and out to get revenge, sexy as a voluptuous Russ Meyer movie vixen driving a muscle car through the desert in the orange setting sun, and as fun as the Roadrunner inventing new Acme products to backfire on Wile E.Coyote whilst reading the autobiography of Hugh Hefner. No, I don’t know what it all means but ya feel me don’t you?! This music just gets me amped like a mainline of electricity to the dome and all my extremities. I’m Frankenstein’s fucking monster!