The Fugs

The Fugs First Album

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A loping, ridiculous, and scabrous release, the Fugs' debut mashed everything from folk and beat poetry to rock and rhythm & blues -- all with a casual disregard for sounding note perfect, though not without definite goals in mind. Actually compiled from two separate sessions originally done for Folkways Records, and with slightly different lineups as a result, it's a short but utterly worthy release that pushed any number of 1964-era buttons at once (and could still tick off plenty of people). Sanders produced the sessions in collaboration with the legendary Harry Smith, who was able to sneak the collective onto Folkways' accounts by describing them as a "jug band," and it's not a far-off description. A number of songs sound like calm-enough folk-boom fare, at least on casual listening, though often with odd extra touches like weirdly muffled drums or out of nowhere whistles and chimes. Others, meanwhile, are just out there -- thus, the details of the perfect "Supergirl." Then there's "Boobs a Lot," the post-toke/acid lament "I Couldn't Get High," and the pie-in-the-face to acceptable standards of the time, "Slum Goddess." Throughout it all, the Fugs sound like they're having a perfectly fun time; the feeling is loose, ragged, but right, and while things may be sloppy around the edges, often that's totally intentional. Certainly little else could explain the random jamming and rhythmic chanting/shouting on "Swinburne Stomp." Good as the original album is, the CD version is what any serious fan needs to find, thanks to the inclusion of 11 bonus tracks. Some come from the original sessions, including the signature tune "We're the Fugs" and "The Ten Commandments," while others appear from various live jams. Then there's the self-explanatory "In the Middle of Their First Recording Session the Fugs Sign the Worst Contract Since Leadbelly's."

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