When Music Is So Bad It’s Thought To Be Good: The Case Of The Shaggs

The Shaggs - Philosophy Of The World LP Cover (Reissue 1980)

The Shaggs – Philosophy Of The World LP Cover (Reissue 1980) (via Bradley Loos)

The Shaggs / Philosophy Of The World
LABEL: Rounder / Red Rooster
DATE: originally released 1969, this is a 1980 reissue

Not sure if this was tongue-in-cheek, but Zappa rated The Shaggs the #3 best band in history in a Norwegian newspaper (April 1988). It’s said that Kurt Cobain liked them as well. While the girls never had the interest in making a band, they did so at the insistence of their demanding father – their father had been told in a palm reading by his mother that his daughters would form a popular musical group. When dads felt the time was right, he took the girls out of school, gave them instruments, and this happened.

Music critic and musician, Cub Coda, wrote this about The Shaggs first album release, Philosophy Of The World:

The guilelessness that permeates these performances is simply amazing, making a virtue out of artlessness. There’s an innocence to these songs and their performances that’s both charming and unsettling. Hacked-at drumbeats, whacked-around chords, songs that seem to have little or no meter to them (“My Pal Foot Foot,” “Who Are Parents,” “That Little Sports Car,” “I’m So Happy When You’re Near” are must-hears) being played on out-of-tune, pawn-shop-quality guitars all converge, creating dissonance and beauty, chaos and tranquility, causing any listener coming to this music to rearrange any pre-existing notions about the relationships between talent, originality, and ability. There is no album you might own that sounds remotely like this one. – ALLMUSIC

Reportedly, during the recording sessions the band would occasionally stop playing, claiming one of them had made a mistake and that they needed to start over, leaving the sound engineers to wonder how the girls could tell when a mistake had been made. – wikipedia

Since 1980 there has been spurts of rediscovery for The Shaggs – a reissue of their first album on vinyl, a reissue on CD, reviews from The Wall Street Journal, The Rolling Stone, and The New Yorker, a Shaggs tribute album, a stage musical, and a BBC4 Radio documentary.

Like ‘em or hate ‘em, they sure make for some lively conversation around the interwebs. So, prepare yourself, this is The Shaggs performing their positive parent message Who Are Parents?: