The Shaggs – Philosophy of the World

9bc38e6cI found this album on my harddrive and realised I’d never listened to it. I’d have remembered for sure. Beyond the band name that brings on a smile, the music itself send you into a giggling fit for a long while.

The album is well-known in music circles. Made in 1969 by three sisters at the behest of their overbearing father, it’s been touted as one of the most original or worst albums you’ll ever hear. I am listening to it again as I type this.

Everything about it is wrong. The rhythm section is so out of synch you can’t help laughing. It’s like hearing a performance at a special school. The drumming is completely monotonous and bizarre. The shifts within the tunes (if you can call them that) never match. There isn’t a seamless movement within them. They clearly had no producer when recording the album. The lack of complexities leave you perplexed. Is that it? I thought.

But like beginners, the album does get better as it goes along. They were learning all along. The chords gain variety and the sound becomes more dense. Alas the drummer never quite makes the adjustment. The lyrics concern parents, religion, driving to school and their portable radio. It’s ineptitude is charming after a while. You start to care and feel proud when they put on a half-decent song. By the end of the album, you are smiling and want to encourage them along.

I could never say this is a great album. It’s stubborn amateurishness is astonishing. This isn’t an album of brilliance. There is no redemption. Yet the simplicity of the whole affair is endearing. Despite their lack of talent, you feel their earnest effort. And by the end, you do give it another listen. You never know what you’ll hear.


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