Thursday, March 27, 2008

The Shaggs Inspire

The ShaggsAnd now for something completely painful. I mean, different. The Shaggs consisted of the Wiggin sisters of Fremont, New Hampshire. They formed in 1968 after their father, Austin, decided his girls were destined to become musical superstars (the story of how this came to be is fascinating and involves palm reading, clairvoyance, and a stubborn determination against all odds). He bought them instruments, made them practice continously and set them up as headliners at the Town Hall every Saturday night.

Their only album Philosophy of the Worldwas not a chart-buster but upon reissue in 1982, it attracted some interest from the media and college radio people. Frank Zappa and Lester Bangs were fans. "Rolling Stone" and "The New Yorker" wrote profiles on them. I first heard The Shaggs, like many people, at my college radio station.

A typical introduction to the group went like this: mischevious, usually male DJ would whip out the album and ask, "Have you heard this?" Nod no, cautiously--will this cost you cool points? Look at that cover--probably not. DJ would then throw the record on and watch your reaction with an open-mouthed half smile; the same look my sociopathic childhood friend gave me the day she convinced me to eat nail polish because "it tastes just like strawberries." She even ate it first to prove her point (I told you she was a sociopath). After listening for two or three moments, you hold your hands over your ears, yelling, "Aaaaah! Why have you done this to me?! I will kill you!!!" By then the bandy-legged speedfreak would be out the door, cackling mercilessly.

But whoa, hold on there, if you managed to listen a bit longer, you would experience something close to being haunted. There is something troubling yet innocent within the Shaggs sound. Their attempts at music are primitive like Grimms fairy tale folk. Folk who live deep in the forest of...somewhere...early dawn of time perhaps? There's no denying it: The Shaggs have soul. They continue to repel, astound and inspire.

I Love (this is a Tom T. Hall cover)- video by hemablokker

My Pal Foot Foot - video by mrsticker2

My Pal Foot Foot note-for-note cover by Play from kazak0914

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