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Why It Mattered: The Stooges – ‘Fun House’

On the cover of Fun House, Iggy Pop’s body contorts as if undergoing an exorcism. Bathed in a hellish red light, this composite is a terrifying sight, but it’s only a taste of what horrors lay within. Fun House is exactly what its name and cover art suggest; an ungodly labyrinth of jagged and unexpected sounds.

For his second album with The Stooges, Iggy (real name James Osterburg) was hell-bent on destroying any expectations spawned from his debut. The result holds up as one of the most abrasive punk records ever released.

The Stooges

Going into the making of Fun House, The Stooges was a band at war with itself. So it’s only fitting that they’d make an album at war with itself.

The Stooges weren’t the first rock n’ roll band dead-set on destruction—by the time they released their self-titled debut in 1969, Jim Morrison had long been simulating sex acts with farm animals on stage—but the sight of a bleeding Iggy Pop howling the masochistic venom of I Wanna Be Your Dog surely came as a shock. Despite Iggy’s on-stage antics and extreme lyrics, however, the band’s debut offering failed to effectively distinguish itself from the other garage-rock music of the time. Following the record’s underwhelming release, Iggy and his band slipped into a pool of heroin addiction and excessive LSD use. Here was a band at war itself, so it’s only fitting that they’d release an album also at war with itself.

Right from its opening moments, the chugging guitars and animalistic howls of album Down On The Street establish a chaotic and debaucherous energy; like shit could go really wrong at any moment. This level of danger and unpredictability doesn’t let up for a moment over the album’s brief seven-track run-time.

Loose is a quintessential garage-rock track, flaunting the album’s most melodic chorus—a brief reprieve from Iggy’s blood-curdling yelps and screeches. In the opening moments of T.V Eye, however, we are dragged right back down into Iggy’s pit of abrasive shrieks.

Dirt is sprawling and sleazy, while 1970 is howling and outrageous. The pinnacle of Fun House‘s madness, however, comes in its final track. L.A. Blues is five minutes of pure sonic sludge; a cacophony of raging, discordant saxophones and ear-splitting feedback.

This complete descent into madness and destruction wasn’t purely a sonic thing, either. L.A. Blues would mark the final time we’d hear the original Stooges lineup on record, at least until David Bowie took it upon himself to reassemble the band (albeit with a slightly altered lineup).

The Stooges complete unwillingness to be categorised, or adhere to any pre-existing musical rules, has gone on to influence an endless list of artists. Everyone from The Strokes to Black Flag to Television have cited Fun House as an influential record. It’s the kind of record that changes everything.

If you enter this album with any ideas about how music should be played, The Stooges will quickly disassemble them.