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Philosophy Of The World Original recording reissued

155 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Original recording reissued, February 23, 1999
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

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No Track Information Available
Media Type: CD
Artist: SHAGGS
Street Release Date: 02/23/1999

When listening to the Shaggs (the Wiggin sisters--Dorothy on lead guitar and vocals, Betty on rhythm guitar and vocals, Helen on drums), one needs to jettison conventional notions of song structure, what is "in tune" or not, even what constitutes suitable subject matter for a pop song ("My Pal Foot Foot," "Who Are Parents?"). Originally issued on a small, dodgy label in 1969, the guileless sounds of Philosophy cast a long shadow nonetheless; the group was one of Frank Zappa's favorites and their music inspired rock primitivists Beat Happening as well as sublime archivists NRBQ and Yo La Tengo. On Philosophy, the teenaged sisters' delirious, playfully constructed music has everything you least expect: loopy polyrhythms that follow no external law, off-kilter singing conducted in unison that sounds like the hit parade broadcast from Jupiter, and bizarre, elementary-school guitar playing. Best enjoyed in small doses, this enchanting, accidental music approximates the highly personal charms of so-called "outsider" visual art. To paraphrase a saccharine song of yore, the Shaggs' music is very beautiful--in its own way. --Mike McGonigal
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (February 23, 1999)
  • Original Release Date: 1969
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Original recording reissued
  • Label: RCA Victor / BMG Classics
  • ASIN: B00000I0QQ
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (155 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #237,367 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

164 of 174 people found the following review helpful By Travis Miller on November 7, 2003
Format: Audio CD
You either "get" this record, or you don't. The naysayers complain that people only like it because it's hip to do so - and there are undoubtedly some people who are guilty of that charge - but I think the naysayers are mostly just missing the point.
No one's denying that this is a terrible album, at least from the customary perspective of music appreciation and criticism. Technically speaking, these are probably the worst musical performances I've ever heard. But you have to look beneath the surface to truly appreciate the Shaggs - an effort which usually isn't made by the typical music listener. There are a number of things to love about this album.
First of all, it's just *fun*, in a delirious and incoherent sort of way. With only the barest rudiments of musicianship (actually, that's being generous), the Wiggin sisters effortlessly created a Dada masterpiece. Granted, it was entirely accidental, but what could be more Dada than that?
But the deeper importance of this record doesn't lie with the notes that are played, but rather what's *between* the notes, at the meta-level. Forget the out-of-tune guitars, the drunkenly meandering tempo, and the nonsensical lyrics. Listen to the naïve, adolescent earnestness, unrestrained by self-doubt or the straightjacket of musical convention. The Shaggs were inept, but they didn't know or care. And it's that unpretentious honesty - so rare in pop music - that makes this music meaningful.
Many others here have compared this recording to a child's crayon drawings, and that's very apt: you don't appreciate such artwork for its technical accomplishment, but for its honesty, for the *human* element - you simply appreciate the creative act in and of itself.
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45 of 50 people found the following review helpful By Kenneth T. Ward on August 23, 2000
Format: Audio CD
Almost all modern music leaves the listener with absolutely no feelings whatsoever. Not so of The Shaggs. You do not so much listen to them as endure their total assault upon the concepts of melody, harmony, rhythm, and logic. Your first play-through will be a cathartic experience of sorts - disbelief turns into incredulity, incredulity mutates into speechlessness, speechlessness transforms into a deeply-rooted hatred of the life force within you, and before you know it your lower intestine is snaking up through your neck trying to strangle you. This is the music your dogs would make if they could strum guitars and speak English. And this is the beauty of The Shaggs - they are so mind-bendingly, death-defyingly horrible in every conceivable way that they grab your viscera, shove them through a turbocharged garbage disposal, and put them back inside of you in random order. Buy this CD (or rather inflict it upon yourself) and marvel at the amazing variations found within the human species. Besides, you have probably done something unspeakably evil in your life - this will be your punishment. You DESERVE this.
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 23, 1999
Format: Audio CD
When I started reading the reviews for this CD (first led to The Shaggs by an article in the September 27th issue of the New Yorker. Read it; very interesting) I was struck by the number of times the word 'genius' appeared in the reviews. After having checked out this music, I think it is safe to say that The Shaggs and genius are two mutually exclusive ideas. Whereas groups like The Velvet Underground and The Mothers of Invention employed disharmony, atonality, and primitivism in the name of musical experimentation, The Shaggs employ these ideas out of necessity; they are musically illiterate in the most profound way. The singing is appalling, the guitar work execrable, and the drumming laughable. Truly, truly rudimentary musicmaking.
Yet...the stuff is strangely beguiling. As much as this is a CD to be endured as opposed to enjoyed, there are moments when these three musical hominoids actually manage to make some sort of sense, when the din of their music suddenly and surprisingly, for a few seconds, gives way to a strangely beautiful form of musical expression. Whether these moments are intentional or unintentional is debatable, and, probably, in the end, wholly unimportant. What is important is that these little epiphanies are there.
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42 of 49 people found the following review helpful By Fez Monkey on December 17, 1999
Format: Audio CD
The consensus seems to be that the music of the Shaggs is one of the great modern paradoxes: It is juvenile, awful, inept, and unlistenable while being creative, beautiful, sophisticated, and progressive.
The truth is that the Shaggs were likely nothing more than overly indulged girls, whose father believed them to have far more talent than they really did. If the other possibility is correct, and they WERE geniuses, then surely they would still be producing music, and we never would have heard of Laurie Anderson.
Still, there is something so compelling about the album. Hearing these girls attempt to play their individual instruments is mesmerizing. They are actually the proof to the old idea that putting a million monkeys at a million typewriters for a million years will eventually produce "Henry V". If you were to put three other musical novices in a room together and ask them to play their instruments, you'd get nothing more than bad noise. The Shaggs, however, managed to hit that magic point where their racket actually combined to create a unique and haunting sound.
However, in my opinion, the real triumph of the Shaggs is that even though they will forever remain an asterix in history, their music will have been more influential than anything put out by the Satan-spawned Mariah Carey, Backstreet Boyz, Celine Dion and countless other artistically retarded, vapid, musical opiates.
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