The Shaggs

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loveable idiots or genius Gods

Mike Hanle y, Monday, 8 October 2001 00:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

loveable idiots for sure

considering they didnt know how to play their instruments when they recorded their first record

Brock Kappers, Monday, 8 October 2001 00:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

But that is so the wrong way to phrase that question. Meaning: there's no question that they're not musical geniuses, as they themselves are the first, second, and third to admit. The all- around wonderful-ness of their recorded output is open to debate (although everyone contesting it will obviously be wrong), but obviously this quality is largely accidental / unintended. (Unless you want to make the whole arsty argument about how they put their pure feelings into and blah blah blah and when it all comes down to it what we're enjoying is the pure expression of their blah blah blah. Which is a supportable argument, but doesn't change the semiotic fact that they were so obviously not specifically crafting their songs to appeal to folks like Frank Zappa.)

By the way, didn't we just do this?

Nitsuh, Monday, 8 October 2001 00:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

no. we never repeast here

Mike Hanle y, Monday, 8 October 2001 00:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

I saw a little red sportscar on the road/i thought i knew the fellow who drove/ it / the car was as slippery as an oyster/ following it was like being on a roller coaster...

i turned around and headed for home / i had learnt my lesson never to roam, never to roam, never to roam

maryann, Tuesday, 9 October 2001 00:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

four years pass...
There is nowhere near enough ILM discussion about how wonderful the Shaggs are.


Gods. Philosophy of the World is one of my all-time favorite albums. Shaggs Own Thing I can take or leave. They were FAR FAR better songwriters than everybody gives them credit for.

Mr. Snrub (Mr. Snrub), Sunday, 26 February 2006 08:32 (twelve years ago) Permalink

shaggs own thing is the only thing they made in my book. philosophy of the world is for try-hardists i always thought. you might as well listen to metal machine music. it makes scott walker's tilt look like the sound of music soundtrack. you'd have to be either really mental, related to the shaggs themselves, or just putting too much ear into the album to like it i always thought..

corey c (shock of daylight), Sunday, 26 February 2006 08:39 (twelve years ago) Permalink

That's really judgemental. What is so hard about listening to it? Two guitars, drums, and voice.

Tim Ellison (Tim Ellison), Sunday, 26 February 2006 08:45 (twelve years ago) Permalink

I think about The Shaggs only in musical terms: their music is very very curious: it's the free jazz concept carried to pop music format. This album is unique! I don't know another band that make that thing.

antonio, Sunday, 26 February 2006 11:01 (twelve years ago) Permalink

Philosophy of the World kind of reminds me of Trout Mask Replica in a way.

xgurggleglgllg (xgurggleglgllg), Sunday, 26 February 2006 18:42 (twelve years ago) Permalink

Thesis: "Painful Memories," the best song by the Shaggs, wasn't a "take or leave" throwaway but was the best song released anywhere in the world in whatever month it was released.

Experiment: Find out the year and month of the "Shaggs' Own Thing" LP's initial release; compare to every song released during same month.

Of course, this is all assuming one needs empirical evidence to substantiate one's beliefs. Personally, I don't need the scientific method: My heart vouches for the truth of my belief that "Painful Memories" is a legitimately great song, and woe unto him (forgive me, but "woe unto him-or-her" just ain't righteous enough) who says otherwise.

Okeigh, Monday, 27 February 2006 00:32 (twelve years ago) Permalink

They were both Gods and LIs because in all probability they had no idea of their own genius. They are absolute 'outsider' in that they write from a point of view that is almost alien in its naivete and lack of self-consciousness.

I wonder who their favorite bands/artists were when they were recording those albums.

Aaron A, Monday, 27 February 2006 01:42 (twelve years ago) Permalink

too much attention is given to it. if they had played your junior high school talent show they would have come in 18th place behind the guys covering 'paranoid'. maybe that is the charm, the idea that they had no idea how awful they were and went ahead and set it free to take over the world anyhow. perhaps they knew it would be lapped up by certain types, the sorts who buy dead c records i imagine. it's an artifact for people to pull out to play for their friends and when their friends say it sucks they think to themselves 'they just don't get how subversive this is and how very sad for them'.

keyth (keyth), Monday, 27 February 2006 03:14 (twelve years ago) Permalink

I saw YOU
a huggin' and a kissin' and a holdin' her tight
Let me tell ya fella
it was a terrible sight
Sneakin' off with my girl
and thinkin' she was your girl
and doin' it
YEAH doin' it
a huggin' and a kissin' her and
holdin' her tight
with all of your might
in the bright

Joe (Joe), Monday, 27 February 2006 03:21 (twelve years ago) Permalink

Yeah, keyth, you're essentially saying the same thing corey c says above. Very judgemental and presumptuous, if you ask me. I don't like the record because it's subversive. I like it because I think a lot went into the creation of the music and I find the songs to be very charming. I would have felt the same way seeing footage of them playing a talent show at their junior high school where they "came in 18th place behind the guys covering 'Paranoid'."

Tim Ellison (Tim Ellison), Monday, 27 February 2006 05:52 (twelve years ago) Permalink

you might as well listen to metal machine music.

And why not? It's great!

I agree that "charming" is the best word for the Shaggs - a quality I personally never discerned in the early works of, say, Half Japanese (among other bands doing the total-incompetence thing), which explains why Half Jap gave me none of the enjoyment that the Shaggs did.

Coupla minor notes: 1. I can kinda understand the "Trout Mask" comparisons, but they remind me more of The Slits, which leads me to suspect that S. Osborne liked 'em a lot. 2. I'm curious whether Nitsuh's ancient throwaway Frank Zappa remarks allowed for the fact that Zappa liked the Shaggs (albeit for extra-musical reasons, one suspects.)

Myonga Von Bontee (Myonga Von Bontee), Monday, 27 February 2006 17:11 (twelve years ago) Permalink - The Shaggs OnlineMusician
Frank Zappa once reportedly called the Shaggs "better than the Beatles." He was kidding, certainly, but their fame continues to grow. ... Site_of_the_Week/The_Shaggs_Online/ - 53k - Cached - Similar pages

mark grout (mark grout), Monday, 27 February 2006 17:19 (twelve years ago) Permalink

If you like this title, we also recommend y bhekhirst - hot in the airport

milton parker (Jon L), Monday, 27 February 2006 22:22 (twelve years ago) Permalink

The Shaggs are the only musical act ever that totally give me the creeps.

darin (darin), Monday, 27 February 2006 22:36 (twelve years ago) Permalink

I still don't get 'em. Lord knows I've tried to find them interesting, but, my God, the drums. The drums are just so goddamned wrong. They don't just trip up my internal metronome, they smash that fucker with a mallet and then jump & down on the pieces. Unlistenable.

Tantrum The Cat (Tantrum The Cat), Monday, 27 February 2006 22:40 (twelve years ago) Permalink

"but they remind me more of The Slits"

Which is funny because parts of the Slits, or even other groups like the Raincoats and Kleenex had things about their music that reminded me of Beefheart.

xgurggleglgllg (xgurggleglgllg), Tuesday, 28 February 2006 04:28 (twelve years ago) Permalink

five years pass...

off-Broadway musical opening next month:

your generation appalls me (Dr Morbius), Tuesday, 12 April 2011 16:32 (seven years ago) Permalink

sounds a laff....

Mark G, Wednesday, 13 April 2011 12:44 (seven years ago) Permalink

CMD+f "foot" not

five gone cats from Boston (underrated aerosmith bootlegs I have owned), Wednesday, 13 April 2011 13:03 (seven years ago) Permalink


What a lovable band. I took part in a rock lottery once, where a ton of people, many of whom didn't play instruments, threw their names into a hat and were placed into impromptu bands that were to perform in a month or so. I had hoped that they would all sound like the Shaggs! One or two did, and totally lit up the night of performances. The duds were all the bands that had people that "could really play", and thus didn't try to do anything fun or dynamic really. Life really just lacks more Shaggs-like resources, and I am truly glad that I have this one at least.

grandavis, Wednesday, 13 April 2011 17:47 (seven years ago) Permalink

four weeks pass...

That was awesome. Thanks for posting it!

Kevin John Bozelka, Thursday, 12 May 2011 05:32 (seven years ago) Permalink


Mark G, Thursday, 12 May 2011 08:51 (seven years ago) Permalink

Thanks for posting that. I didn't see it in that short doc, but Terry Adams owns film footage of them playing the town hall back in the day (no sound though, unfortunately). Irwin Chusid showed it when he was touring around for the Songs in the Key of Z book/cd maybe 10 years ago.

city worker, Friday, 13 May 2011 17:00 (seven years ago) Permalink

Kinda sneaky how he stresses the absence of musical influence - they are called "Caspar Hausers", when it's clearly stated on the album that they carry their radio everywhere they go.

everything, Friday, 13 May 2011 19:37 (seven years ago) Permalink

they did have musical influences though -- not very hip ones, but still. they weren't raised in a cave. i think they were into herman's hermits.

Nardil the Human MAOI (get bent), Friday, 13 May 2011 19:47 (seven years ago) Permalink

Great wee piece. I wanted to hear more from the Wiggs though. Did they hate every minute of making this music? Do they actually hate their Dad for what he did? Its hard to tell. We need to know more about the father. Seems like a pretty bizzare fellow- calling time on these tracks cos he knew they were done. Also would have liked questions about the lyrics - naive they may have been but also beautiful and true.

Hinklepicker, Saturday, 14 May 2011 08:17 (seven years ago) Permalink

Playwrights Horizons and New York Theatre Workshop will co-produce the New York premiere of the musical The Shaggs: Philosophy of the World in the spring of 2011. The show will be presented off-Broadway at Playwrights Horizons, directed by John Langs

A musical!

curmudgeon, Saturday, 14 May 2011 21:14 (seven years ago) Permalink

two years pass...


dyl, Tuesday, 29 October 2013 16:00 (four years ago) Permalink



Mark G, Tuesday, 29 October 2013 16:27 (four years ago) Permalink

holy hell

Tip from Tae Kwon Do: (crüt), Tuesday, 29 October 2013 16:33 (four years ago) Permalink

November 7th at the Ottobar in Baltimore. ALL AGES

curmudgeon, Tuesday, 29 October 2013 16:59 (four years ago) Permalink

hell yeah, you go dot wiggin!! this is delightful news

certified skeleton fucker (reddening), Tuesday, 29 October 2013 18:53 (four years ago) Permalink


skip, Tuesday, 29 October 2013 19:55 (four years ago) Permalink

p sure I read about this a few weeks ago? not trying to do firsties here cos I thought it was on ILX!

when I was Ted Croker man I couldn't picture this (DJ Mencap), Tuesday, 29 October 2013 20:09 (four years ago) Permalink

Pfork covered this almost 2 months ago

Ayn Rand Akbar (Shakey Mo Collier), Tuesday, 29 October 2013 20:11 (four years ago) Permalink

You guys ever heard Y. Bhekhirst? He's like a one-man 80's Eastern European version of The Shaggs.

Emperor Cos Dashit (Adam Bruneau), Tuesday, 29 October 2013 22:28 (four years ago) Permalink

one year passes...

I find this album weirdly moving. It's like it's from another world, one uncontaminated with evil, cynicism, unkindness, and oppression. Also, Hypnogogic.

Poliopolice, Friday, 27 February 2015 18:05 (three years ago) Permalink

If you've never actually taken the time to listen all the way through... do it!

Poliopolice, Friday, 27 February 2015 18:05 (three years ago) Permalink

the opening track actually moves me to tears. :(

Poliopolice, Friday, 27 February 2015 18:09 (three years ago) Permalink

yes opening track is great, i also love the drumming on "my pal foot foot", great album

dyl, Friday, 27 February 2015 18:29 (three years ago) Permalink

obviously, this is a favorite

the plight of y0landa (forksclovetofu), Friday, 27 February 2015 20:11 (three years ago) Permalink

eight months pass...

scott seward, Monday, 2 November 2015 13:25 (two years ago) Permalink

Video removed? That was quick..

Mark G, Monday, 2 November 2015 14:12 (two years ago) Permalink

what was it?

a llove spat over a llama-keeper (forksclovetofu), Monday, 2 November 2015 14:42 (two years ago) Permalink

Live film of the Shaggs playing at one of their town hall dances.

Three Word Username, Monday, 2 November 2015 14:45 (two years ago) Permalink

It's gone already? The shots of the crowd "dancing" were amazing.

chr1sb3singer, Monday, 2 November 2015 15:20 (two years ago) Permalink

Not sure if this was the same Terry Adams/Irwin Chusid footage I'd mentioned upthread a few years ago, but it was really sweet to see them in action.

city worker, Monday, 2 November 2015 15:28 (two years ago) Permalink

scott seward, Monday, 2 November 2015 16:01 (two years ago) Permalink

LOL at the dancing

skip, Monday, 2 November 2015 16:23 (two years ago) Permalink

any idea about how many original LPs are thought still to be floating around?

skip, Monday, 2 November 2015 16:26 (two years ago) Permalink

austinato (Austin), Monday, 2 November 2015 16:49 (two years ago) Permalink

Last Sold: Never
Lowest: --
Median: --
Highest: --

austinato (Austin), Monday, 2 November 2015 16:49 (two years ago) Permalink

apparently one sold for 5k on ebay last year:

skip, Monday, 2 November 2015 16:53 (two years ago) Permalink

they did have musical influences though -- not very hip ones, but still. they weren't raised in a cave. i think they were into herman's hermits.

― Nardil the Human MAOI (get bent), Friday, May 13, 2011 2:47 PM (4 years ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

I don't hear that, though. I listen to Trout Mask Replica and go, oh Howlin Wolf, but there isn't a song on Philosophy of the World that sounds like Herman's Hermits. The way the instruments and vocals are structured seems to me like the Wiggins sisters created their music entirely on their own terms.

Retro novelty punk (Dan Peterson), Monday, 2 November 2015 17:09 (two years ago) Permalink

i honestly think a sealed copy of that record is worth five thousand dollars. more priceless than a stupid rolex.

scott seward, Monday, 2 November 2015 17:58 (two years ago) Permalink

yeah, 5k seems reasonable - the guy asking 10k sounds like he doesn't actually want to sell. I wonder if he'd take a 5-6k offer (not because I will make the offer, just wondering)

skip, Monday, 2 November 2015 18:01 (two years ago) Permalink

This sounds like a (quite good) normal radio pop song:

Three Word Username, Monday, 2 November 2015 18:04 (two years ago) Permalink

Yeah, that's quite a bit more conventional than "My Pal Foot Foot."

Retro novelty punk (Dan Peterson), Monday, 2 November 2015 19:38 (two years ago) Permalink

damn, I live about 15 minutes away from Fremont & had considered going on a pilgrimage/drive-by to the old Wiggin homestead, but this doesn't seem too promising:

A few years after Austin died, Betty and Dot married and moved to their own houses, and eventually Annie sold the house on Beede Road and moved to an apartment nearby. After a while, the house’s new owner complained to people in town that Austin’s ghost haunted the property. As soon as he could afford it, the new owner built something bigger and nicer farther back on the property, and allowed the Fremont Fire Department to burn the old Wiggin house down for fire-fighting practice.

scarlett bohansson (unregistered), Tuesday, 3 November 2015 02:08 (two years ago) Permalink

Well, you can't always please everybody in this world.

Mark G, Tuesday, 3 November 2015 07:45 (two years ago) Permalink

ten months pass...

Do we still care? Shaggs' Dot Wiggin Reflects on Divisive 'Philosophy of the World' Album

nickn, Saturday, 1 October 2016 05:57 (one year ago) Permalink

Philosophy of the World was just reissued. I thought they might stick a lot of Shaggs Own Thing on but it looks like it's just the 12 track lp.
I had a copy of the Rounder vinyl reissue I bought in the mid 80s after reading the review in an earlier NME from when it was reissued at the start of the 80s. May need to get the cd.

Stevolende, Saturday, 1 October 2016 07:17 (one year ago) Permalink

Are there any good covers of the band around? Is that possible?
I had a version of My Pal Foot Foot by a Japanese impro group that extended it greatly but not sure how recognisable it was or if I still have it.

Was Shaggs Own Thing worth having?

Stevolende, Sunday, 2 October 2016 08:02 (one year ago) Permalink

Deerhoof - My Pal Foot Foot

skip, Sunday, 2 October 2016 20:04 (one year ago) Permalink

Thinking Fellers Union Local 282 from that same album:

sleeve, Monday, 3 October 2016 06:09 (one year ago) Permalink

Seem to recall some underwhelming versions of Shaggs songs from recent years by some jazz performers.

Berberian Begins at Home (James Redd and the Blecchs), Monday, 3 October 2016 10:18 (one year ago) Permalink

Ah found it. My Band Foot Foot. From 2007, how time flies. Some serious players, but sometimes they miss the point.

Berberian Begins at Home (James Redd and the Blecchs), Monday, 3 October 2016 10:22 (one year ago) Permalink

I even started a thread at the time: My Band Foot Foot

Berberian Begins at Home (James Redd and the Blecchs), Monday, 3 October 2016 10:22 (one year ago) Permalink

Yeah did wonder if the fact that the approximation would be intentional would devalue any musical content and just leave a not very good joke or intentional quirkiness.
But some of those Wiggins drum rhythms always reminded me of the Swans. So did wonder if there was any way of taking a positive influence from them.
trying to d/load that Better than teh Beatles but not sure if it's actually seeded.

Stevolende, Monday, 3 October 2016 10:42 (one year ago) Permalink

one year passes...

God, hadn't heard before how old the sisters were at the time the lp cover photo was shot. I assumed they were years younger, 22, 21 and 18.

Stevolende, Tuesday, 10 October 2017 15:07 (eleven months ago) Permalink

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