Tuesday, June 23, 2009

My Pal Foot Foot


One of the great stories of rock & roll is that of the three Wiggins sisters (Dot, Helen, and Betty), better known as the Shaggs. Growing up dirt poor in New Hampshire, the three girls were turned onto forming a band by their father, Austin Wiggins, who bought their instruments and payed for lessons. Despite their lack of musical expertise, Austin drove the girls down to a studio in Massachusetts, determined to get them on tape "while they were still hot." Striking a deal with a local fly-by-night record company called Third World, the Shaggs recorded their debut album, Philosophy of the World, in one day, recording a dozen tunes all written by Dot. One thousand copies were pressed and all but 100 of them quickly disappeared, along with the president of the company. The Shaggs started playing a regular, Saturday night dance back home in Fremont, NH, and added another sister, Rachel, on bass, to their ranks. When Austin Wiggins passed away in 1975, the group disbanded and never played together again. But over the intervening years, their lone misguided attempt at recording started gaining cult status. In a Playboy magazine interview, Frank Zappa is reported to have said of the Shaggs, "This sounds like the missing link between Fanny and Captain Beefheart & his Magic Band." Zappa rated The Shaggs #3 best band in history in a Norwegian newspaper, and by the time NRBQ had reissued it in 1980, its legendary status was already confirmed. Other, later, and slightly more profieicent recordings emerged on the compilation Shaggs' Own Thing, and both albums were produced for compact disc on Rounder, issued as simply The Shaggs. In 1999, RCA Victor finally reissued the original Philiosophy album with its original cover, notes, and sequencing, keeping the music of the Shaggs (which one can view as either guileless primitive art or just a garage band that really can't play or sing) alive into the new millennium."The Shaggs. Better than the Beatles--even today." - Frank Zappa
"They bring my mind to a complete halt." - Carla Bley
"Maybe the best worst rock album ever made." - New York Times

5 comments:

marram62 said...

The Spin Alternative Record Guide says that Philosophy Of the World "behaves as if pop conventions of structure, tonality, rhythm, meter, and harmony never existed." The vocalist "sings phrases of irregular length and unpredictable melodic trajectory" while the drummer, "seemingly two or three rooms away," does her own thing, "occasionally wandering onto the beat." Their essence is "utter unselfconsciousness."

Despite all the praise, The Shaggs have remained modest. "We weren't ready to start an album," explained Shaggs songwriter Dorothy Wiggins. "It was right after we started taking lessons."http://rapidshare.com/files/247685582/THE_SHAGGS.rar

ERICDARKO said...

I Have the Spin Alternative book I've used it as a guide for Many years ... Also I had the Johnny carson album when I was a kid my mom bought it 4 me when I was young ... I remember it was a cut out ... and I believe it was a double album ... The Shaggs are strange at first I recoiled but on second inspection the music Kinda made sense ... thanks for this great blog...

marram62 said...

'Thank you Sir, Come Again'!

Co-existence said...

Thanks a bunch! Found your blog looking for this and after browsing through some stuff I knew I had to add this to my favorites. I'll be back.

Peace!

Anonymous said...

Awesome blog! Thanks for taking the time!