The “Coolest” Album Of All Time?

BAND: The Stooges

ALBUM: Funhouse

RELEASE DATE: 1970

“LAAAAAAWWWWWWDDDDDDDDDDD!!!!!!!!!”

So begins TV Eye, the third track on this remarkably intense album by perhaps THE best, and certainly most important, punk rock band of all time. A joke in their time, The Stooges stock has risen phoenix-like in the 40+ years (Jesus!) since their debut (which contained the classics “I Wanna Be Your Dog” and “No Fun”), so much so that they are now regarded, rightfully so, as the grandfathers of the genre.

Even Jack White says that the Stooges second album, Funhouse, is among the best albums ever recorded, and  I agree wholeheartedly.

Consider the albums that were released in the same year as this: The Carpenters “Close To You”; Cat Stevens “Tea For The Tillerman”; Chicago’s “Chicago”; Anne Murray—shudder—“Snowbird”; Bob Dylan, “Self Portrait”, and Gordon Lightfoot’s “If You Could Read My Mind”. Can you imagine the Stooges in this mix? Like that old Sesame Street bit, “one of these things doesn’t belong.”

Only Black Sabbath’s debut and Funkadelic’s “Free Your Mind And Your Ass Will Follow”, also released during that year, were as important as Funhouse, and although “Free Your Mind…” comes close in it’s subversive brilliance it still isn’t as cool as this one. Drummer Scott Asheton and bassist Dave Alexander bring the gigantic grooves and guitarist Ron Asheton brings the buzzbomb noize. They sound HUGE. Bigger and more badass than Bonham and Jones and twice as ornery.

This is Iggy Pop’s album, however; his maniacal howl is perfectly suited to the music, and his lyrics, while still a tad puerile, set the overall mood of the album as a whole, lending it an air of danger and insanity. Compared to the debuts murky sludge metal Funhouse sounds almost…well, funky. And other tracks, such as the title track, have a whiff of abstract jazz to ‘em thanks to the addition of a scronky saxophone.

This is musical anarchy, folks, of the highest order. Alice Cooper, who was just getting started when this album was released, was listening intently, as were thousands of disenfranchised kids from the other side of the pond…like John Lydon, for example.

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