Pretty much everyone reading this magazine should already know their way around Funhouse - it's the quintessential Stooges album - The one recorded live in the studio in LA with the band surrounded by brick walls instead of all that soundproofing shit. The one which was produced by one of the Kingsmen and featured Iggy wearing silver elbow-length oven gloves on the cover. The one that sold about three copies on its original release and got them dropped by Elektra. The one which has been on and off-catalog yo-yo style over the years but has influenced a whole generation of rock musicians. I could go on, but heck, probably the whole of rock music itself owes something to Funhouse. So when the news broke that the music-loving Rhino team was to release a box set of the WHOLE of the Funhouse sessions, dating from May 1970, I had to go check the facts to make sure I wasn't dreaming. If, like me, you can still go listen to the original album all these years on and hear something new every time (you bet!) then you need this glorious celebration of the untutored, spontaneous genius that was The Stooges in their full-on prime. You can now assemble your OWN version of Funhouse from the original eight-track session tapes, presented here complete and spread over six eighty-minute CDs, with all the out-takes, false starts, tape hiss and amp hum left intact. And you might find as I did that one big surprise about the sessions is the discipline involved. One might expect hours of horsing around, but there's very little fat here, and no craziness bar a couple of band in-jokes. Very little time is wasted as the Stooges run through their chosen six songs over and over, tightening up their performances, trying out new lyrics and varying the sax and guitar solos until everything sounds about as good as it can. Pretty much ALL the takes are great, and there's also "Lost in the Future", which didn't make the final album. Of course the box set then finishes up with an 18-minute free-form squall simply titled "Freak", later to be edited down to the mere four-and-a-half minutes that was fittingly renamed for the album closer as "LA Blues". Tech-heads will pick up on the fact that there was remarkably little sheen added during mixdown - do a side-by-side comparison of the box set with the commercial album release and you'll hear a guitar overdub here, a splash more reverb there, and that is about all. The sound on these CDs is presumably pretty much as it was originally committed to those one-inch 8-track masters - clean, clear and sounding mighty fine (and how did they get that magnificent guitar sound?) You get a whole new view here on an album that was considered un-sellable in 1970 but which thirty years on has become a legend, and with this release, a $100 legend to boot. And ain't we GLAD. (Available from Rhino Handmade by mail-order only; check

Tape Op is a bi-monthly magazine devoted to the art of record making.

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