This compilation is a ‘best of' highlighting recordings from the ‘80s reincarnation of the Fugs. Along for the ride are founding members Tuli Kupferberg and Ed Saunders. Although this disc doesn't contain any previously unissued material, there are a few tracks from Star Peace -- which is currently out-of-print on CD. Songs From A Portable Forrest also gathers key tracks from Refuse To Be Burnt-Out -- Live In The 1960s and No More Slavery. The ‘80s Fugs remained an amalgam of Dadaist beat poetry and reckless abandon garage rock with a message promoting all that is sensually pleasurable. Perhaps due to the sheer volume of new compositions Saunders added to the ‘80s cannon, Songs From A Portable Forrest is a bit heavier on his, rather than Kupferberg's contributions. That said however, two of Tuli's finest are included here. "If You Want To Be President" from Refuse To Be Burnt-Out as well as an adaptation of "Dover Beach from No More Slavery -- which was actually written by 19th Century Oxford poet Matthew Arnold. Kupferberg's bold touch can be heard in the unique arrangement that couples the poem with a traditional Jewish melody. Chief among Saunders compositions are works incorporating pivotal motifs during the initial revival of the Fugs name and spirit. "Keeping The Issues Alive" and "Refuse To Be Burnt-Out" -- the latter of which is an apt cenotaph to "those guys in the Fugs who have since died," according to Saunders. Speaking of the past, only a revamped "Nova Slum Goddess" is offered on this collection from the ‘60s Fugs repertoire. While Songs From A Portable Forrest is a good launch pad, enthusiasts keen on hearing more should also be aware of the 1995 live release The Real Woodstock Festival -- which also features guest appearances by "Country" Joe McDonald and Allen Ginsberg.
AllMusic Review by Lindsay Planer