Results for Fun House

interviews

Ron Asheton of The Stooges

A couple of weeks ago Jim and Greg talked about the punk pioneers The Ramones. This week it's time to look at the other pillar of punk: The Stooges. In the late '60s and early '70s the band released three major albums, and then disintegrated into drugs and power struggles. Now, almost 35 years later, three of the four original members reunited to record a new album, The Weirdness. Jim and Greg invite guitarist Ron Asheton to talk about the band's history and how they came back together.

Lead singer Iggy Pop (James Osterberg), guitarist Ron Asheton, drummer Scott Asheton and bassist Dave Alexander formed The Stooges in Ann Arbor, MI in 1967. They were signed to Elektra Records a year later after opening for“big brother band”the MC5. There they had their first self-titled album produced by John Cale of The Velvet Underground. Jim and Greg talk to Ron Asheton about the band's first time in the studio (and their first in-studio strike), and learn about how they developed their signature, primitive sound. They point to the propulsive Bo Diddley-inspired rhythms of songs like "1969."

The Stooges went on to record Fun House, which reflected their love of James Brown and John Coltrane, and then things started to fall apart. Iggy went on to form a relationship with David Bowie (and with heroin), and got the band signed to Columbia Records. Ron Asheton was bounced down to bassist, however. He explains that their subsequent release, Raw Power, is a good album, but not indicative of their true sound.

Go to episode 66
classic album dissections
The StoogesFunhouseFun House available on iTunes

The Stooges Fun House

For our first Classic Album Dissection of the year, we're looking at The Stooges' second album, Fun House. It was a big left turn after their debut album in 1969, The Stooges, which was produced by John Cale fresh off The Velvet Underground. Where their debut featured production flourishes like hand claps and sleigh bells, Fun House was recorded almost entirely live to tape- including Iggy Pop's energetic vocals. The album wound up being recorded live because the producer, Elektra staff producer Don Gallucci (who also happens to have played keyboard on The Kingsmen's "Louie Louie,") removed all the sound proofing from the studio in an attempt to replicate the band's live set-up — including giving Iggy a hand-held microphone. With no baffles, there was so much“bleed”that multitracking was impossible. The irony was that the Elektra studios were state of the art to achieve quiet and“clean”recordings for the folk artists who made up the majority of the Elektra lineup at the time. It's easy to draw parallels between the Fun House sessions and Gallucci's experience recording "Louie Louie" seven years prior. Gallucci told Jim and Greg that The Kingsmen weren't happy with Jack Ely's vocals on their first take, but the engineer refused to turn down his vocal microphone (and he lacked the self control to stand further away). The band's creative solution was to suspend the mic above Ely, so he couldn't reach it and his vocals would be buried in the mix. The unintended side effect was a room sound, creating the“goofy party”effect as Gallucci described it.

Jim and Greg both profess to be big fans of The Stooges, though they differ when it comes to Fun House. Greg declares it one of the greatest rock records ever recorded, while Jim says he loves the song-oriented first half, but can't stand the free jazz-influenced second half. Jim cites "Down On The Street" and "Dirt" (and a Lester Bangs essay on Fun House) as crucial to the development of the punk aesthetic. Greg calls the experimental second half of the record an evocative synthesis of rock, funk and free jazz. He insists that the chemistry between Iggy, guitarist Ron and drummer Scott Asheton, bassist Dave Alexander and saxophonist Steve Mackay was so singular, that is may never be replicated.

Go to episode 692
news

Music News

Exile on Main Street is widely considered The Rolling Stones' best album and one of the best albums of all time. Jim and Greg would agree. So, it's no surprise that fans have been clamoring for even the smallest extra bit of insight into the making of the record. Unfortunately, the new Exile reissue does not deliver that. It comes with a deluxe edition of the album, bonus tracks, a documentary DVD and a book, but nothing that would allow a fan to penetrate the mysterious, drug-filled recording sessions. It's merely a big tease, say Jim and Greg, and nothing approaching the successful model of reissues established by Pet Sounds and Funhouse.

Go to episode 233

Music News

2008 has come to a close, and the numbers are in. According to Nielsen SoundScan's end-of-year report, Taylor Swift was the top-selling artist of 2008. Lil Wayne and Coldplay also had good years, but overall album sales were down a whopping 14%. It's not all bad news for the music industry, however. While physical sales for complete albums continue to plummet, music sales overall are up; more than 1 billion digital tracks were sold. And, profits from concert sales are up 8%. This figure is the result of fewer tickets being sold for more money, and Jim and Greg wonder if consumers will be able to keep up with rising ticket prices in this failing economy.

It looks like digital music sales will only continue to increase. Steve Jobs of Apple has made it even easier for music fans to purchase and download music from the iTunes store by removing all Digital Rights Management software from its files. But, accessibility comes at a price—$1.29 to be exact. Amazon and other online stores have been selling DRM-free files for almost a year, but iTunes was the last to hold out with the labels' demands. So if both Apple and the music industry are winners, where does that leave the consumer?

Pioneering punk guitarist Ron Asheton of the Stooges died this week at the age of 60. While he died at young age, Asheton lived long enough to experience a Stooges reunion and revived fan interest. He is best remembered through his music, in albums like Fun House. And you can listen to Asheton's 2006 interview with Jim and Greg during this Sound Opinions episode.

Go to episode 163