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A year of many exciting events that shook our perceptions. In music, it was a killer year in the annals of rock and roll.
One such event, was the release of Funhouse by The Stooges.
From the beginning chords of "Down On the Street," to the swinging thunder of 1970; Funhouse, was indeed an album that ventured into new musical pastures, "A record of pretty music."
That same year, the Apollo 13 was in trouble in space and had limited power to return to Earth. The crew should have taken this album and spun it in the cabin; fueling their module back home!
That's power baby!! Raw power.
In my book Too Heavy for Heaven, I mention how punk rock was accidentally invented (owing a lot to Ron Asheton's magical bar chords) on the first two records and other styles were being poked at. This included heavy metal and death rock. Seven songs of mayhem and brilliance; only to be commercially ignored upon its release in the summer of 1970.
As a music historian and author, my job is to find the deep roots of particular musical events/ideas that I can translate into having value today. Questions to ask: How does this piece of music make you feel? How did the musicians come up with their ideas, and why should we talk about it?
Ron Asheton's guitar work mixed with the power of Iggy Pop and drummer Scott Asheton, collide to bring an album of unique artistry and uncompromising glory.
It sold poorly; comparatively to Chinese 45s, but it still has a pretty powerful attack. So you had to secretly ask your friend for a copy; due to the fact people would hate on you for liking the Stooges—but it's well worth the effort.
The formula: sax, noise, screaming, and fuzzy distortion; brilliant noise for 1970. The problem? It was just too damn ahead of its time. Even their record label was baffled by them. The song titles were so short too, "Loose," "1970," "Dirt," "Funhouse"—a short burst of rock and roll heaven!
The first few songs lay the hard rock dominate sound and ends with a seven minute melodic opus, simply entitled "Dirt."
When the band finished recording the album in May 1970, they set out on tour dates, bringing their unique debauchery to venues around America; scaring and making people angry in the process. One of those nights was captured live at Unganos in New York. A bootleg that was passed around for years, and finally got a proper release a few years ago. Gripping shit.
Jazz rears its ugly head, as well as funk, making Funhouse a quintessential piece of music.
Another gig at that time was at the Goose Lake, where bassist Dave Alexander was too high to play and subsequently canned. YouTube footage shows a band on the edge, but holding it together enough to deliver the goods; in a waking breath of excitement, fun attitude and danger. A lot of rare Stooges footage had been unreleased prior to 2008, due to copyright issues as well as someone in a European basement wanting to greedily collect.
There you have it. One of my top ten records and for many reasons; plus any record that has a year for a song title, has to be cool.
"1970, I feel alright!"
When the record failed to sell in volumes, Electkra records dropped the Stooges and they once again found themselves in the quiet hole of rock obscurity. It was in this quiet hole, that the pot was being stirred for their final third act. An act that would be their final album, and that would destroy the band—at least for a while.
That, however, is another story...