January 10, 2008

Iggy Pop’s “Funtime” is deliberately creepy — it’s slow and cartoonishly macabre, and the cheery tone of the lyrics are mostly deadpan and ironic in context. R.E.M. coverthe song as though they had never heard the original or had much familiarity with Iggy, and run through it as though they found the sheet music and decided to play the song as literally as possible. It’s hard to tell who was being more of a smart-ass. Iggy’s dry humor on the original is fantastic, but the premise is a bit obvious. R.E.M.’s goofy take is a little bit self-deprecating — their general tactic re: covers in the late ’80s seems to have been “let’s cover the coolest songs we know but do them in really dorky ways” — but the joke is mainly at the expense of uptight snobs who would likely despise such a silly take on an underground classic.

26 Responses to “Funtime”

  1. jim jos Says:

    finally, first!

  2. jbacardi Says:

    Where did this cover appear? Love the original, but I’ve never heard R.E.M.’s take…

  3. Mr Cup Says:

    Sure, the could’ve made it more like Superman but why would you. Covers is where we get first hand their claim ‘We take what we do seriously, but we don’t take ourselves seriously’.

    Bless ’em.

  4. 2fs Says:

    Where’s this cover available? I thought I had them all (O! foolish heart….)

    Also: death to firsties. Please: grow up.

  5. Paul Alferink Says:

    Dracula was pretty good, but it wasn’t quite as gorey as people said it was going to be . . .

    This song kind of goes through several versions. None of them serious. But the Greenpeace benifit at the 40 watts is probably the goofiest.

    Spot on about REM covers around this time. A book I had descibed Stipes tone on “Ghostrider” as “Suitably bored” they certain don’t punk it out, like the average bad would. It’s like the opposite of “New Found Glory” Whereas all the do is punk out normal pop songs, REM takes Punk songs and takes the Punk out.

  6. Kirsten Says:

    Jim Jos – First and that’s all you have to say??

    I’m guilty of never hearing the original, so I can’t compare it with Iggy Pop’s version, so I always just thought it was a fun little song that they decided to cover. Great live, and I’ll be pleased to have it stuck in my head for the rest of the afternoon. Thanks Matthew.

    All aboard….

  7. Beethoven Was Deaf Says:

    For some reason this song always makes me want to hear an REM cover of “Soul To Squeeze” by the Red Hot Chili Peppers. I think it might be good. I think the connection comes from Soul To Squeeze’s carnival video.

  8. 2d Says:

    this is a quirky little cover that screams “fun”!!!! the barks and growls are deliciously kooky, r.e.m. used to be insane in the best way possible, wish they’d let loose more often like this.

  9. maclure Says:

    One of my favourite covers, tons of energy and well put by Matthew. I have it as a live b-side to Strange Currencies.

  10. ScottMalobisky Says:

    Iggy’s sounding dangerous , never heard the REM . I wonder if Iggy was singing this when he allegedly exposed his supposedly gargantuan member to Tina Louise in that Carribean watering-hole ?

  11. Paul Alferink Says:

    The studio verion of this song is a B-side to some “Green” single (I forget which, I got them as a box set;they run together) and, accordingly, on the Automatic Box.
    The live version on “Strange Currancies” was a Greenpeace benefit a the 40 Watts in Athens. That whole concert came out on the collective “Monster” Maxi-singles (minus “Tongue,” Which had live Monster tour material as the B-sides). At the concert, they either did Drive (fast version) twice, or edited it to make it seem that way. IF there is a first version, it is on the “Alternative NRG” album for Greenpeace.
    Interestingly enough, if you buy the all four Maxi-Singles:
    What’s the Frequency, Kenneth
    Bang and Blame
    Strange Currencies
    Crush with Eyeliner

    Crush with Eyeliner comes with permission, if you buy the audiotape single of the song, to record the songs on a special, “Collectors Edition” tape made specifically for this purpose, with REM’s blessing. Which is hysterical, because
    A. This was 1995. Who still bought cassette? I actually looked for this, but NOBODY carried cassette singles anymore, to speak of. So I have no idea what this cassette looked like.”

    B. The fact that the music industry believes that once the sell me the song, I should not be allowed to change the format for my own personal use, ie for my own personal use, make a “Mix tape” or tape a CD, is fairly ludicrous. And with Peter Buck’s rumored large bootleg collection, a little hypocritical. So I’d like to say I bought all those Maxi Singles! And the Greenpeace album! And I made a tape out of them of the whole concert! And I did it without buying your Non-existant collectors edition tape, made for that specific purpose! And later, I burned it on a single CD. Come and get me, music industry! Here I am! Come and get me!

  12. narcizo Says:

    Happy New Year!
    I love Stipe’s vocals on this one (I’ ve got the live version from Orlando 1989); when he sings “fun, baby baby” he sounds like a total brat…Very un-rock but effective.
    And the comment on Dracula at the end is perfect.

  13. maclure Says:

    Paul A – I have that tape and copied all the b-sides over to make a new live album. Heh heh, so R.E.M. in Dublin wasn’t the first official live album release… It has a green cover, if I recall, with R.E.M. 92 blazened over it.

  14. maclure Says:

    Oh, I should say that although it’s true that a tape was out of date, my beat up car didn’t have a CD player so it was perfect for that. A great album for the road it was…

  15. milesy Says:

    Maclure, you drove a ‘beat up’ car?

  16. adam Says:

    doesnt this remind you of IM GONNA DJ??

  17. maclure Says:

    OK, OK, I wouldn’t have been driving a car in 95 as I was two years below the age when I could drive, but the first car I drove was my Mum’s Vauxhall Nova which I think more or less could be described as “beat up” by the time I was through with it. REM 92 got heavy rotation along with a tape I got from a magazine of songs used in Tarantino soundtracks.

  18. Paul Alferink Says:

    I’m going to DJ reminds me of the verses to “Revolution”. High Energy and tuneless. More style than substance.

    Although they both start with the “Hey Baby Baby,” part.

  19. I took the single b-sides and mixed them with the audience recording of the show and made my own CD. I hope THAT’S OK, AOL Time Warner! 😀

  20. jim jos Says:

    2fs: “Growing up leads to growing old and then to dying, and dying to me don’t sound like all that much fun” Spot the R.E.M. connection, tough guy!

    Kirsten: All I have to say in regards to this cover is “I don’t wanna be Iggy Pop, but if that’s what it takes”
    and, I think it will be a healthy sign for the band to throw a cover or two into their new tour. I kind of miss that aspect of their existence.

  21. Eclipse Says:

    I hate this song, in all its various forms and covers. Peter Murphy covered this song too and I loathe it. I don’t really understand why, but whenever I hear “All aboard, for funtime!!” I just shudder and wish I could unhear it.

  22. Figgy Says:

    I haven’t heard this song for many years, having left my Automatic Box Set in Ireland when I moved to New Zealand. But I did like it at the time.

    I wanted to cover this song (based on REM’s take) with a band I played with in the early 90s, but the other guys were initially not keen. Just as I was making progress talking them round, a version of the song was released by none other than Boy George! Not surprisingly, ‘Funtime’ was never mentioned again at rehearsal.

  23. milesy Says:

    Just read the comments properly. Of course, it’s ‘Dracula’… And for all these years I’ve been hearing ‘jugular’ and wondering what JMS was on about…. (I guess I kinda figured that some fairly gory and violent things are possible with a jugular and left it at that).

  24. Kirsten Says:

    Funtime was the b-side to Get Up. I could bearly even remember hearing a recorded version of this song and I found out why – I only have it on an old 45″ record! Infact, I discovered that I don’t have any of the singles for Green on CD – only on 45s. On the sleeve of the record it reads “Recorded and Mixed in 4 Minutes”. It also accredits the song to Iggy Pop and David Bowie. So I’m not sure if Bowie was just a co-writer or if he did a version of it himself.

  25. Beethoven Was Deaf Says:

    I think all of these long pauses may be causing us to lose some of our less faithful posters. I wonder if their is method behind the madness though, after all if Matthew goes slow enough he can review the new CD here before he finishes all the other songs.

  26. Figgy Says:

    I’ve just noticed that there’s still plenty of activity on the “These Days” post, BWD. That’s where everyone’s putting their off-the-topic posts while they wait for Matthew’s next review. They’re getting close to the 700 response mark. Maybe you could pop in and say hi.

    Hmmmm, you could be right about Matthew pacing himself to review “Accelerate” before he finishes with the other songs. Time will tell…

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