• Shaggs
  • Philosophy of the World (Third World) 1969  (Red Rooster/Rounder) 1980 
  • Shaggs' Own Thing (Red Rooster/Rounder) 1982 

There’s always room for dada in rock, and New Hampshire’s three Wiggins sisters virtually define ingenuous amateurism on their first album, a home-brew oddity originally released in 1969. This startling treatise tears down every skill-related barrier that generally precludes musically unskilled children from making records and boasts that perennial candidate for worst song of all time, “My Pal Foot Foot.” Philosophy of the World is truly inspired awfulness: incompetent drumming totally unrelated to the song under attack, two not-quite-tuned guitars and clumsy vocals offering Hallmark card platitudes. In toto, a triumph!

After reissuing the first album, NRBQ’s Red Rooster label saw to the Shaggs’ creation of another batch of tunes, this time making a concerted effort to achieve a semblance of musical acceptability. To that end, another Wiggins was brought in to play bass, the selection of material encompasses some non-originals, and both the sound and playing is several hundred times improved. (The benchmark is a swell remake of “My Pal Foot Foot.”) Shaggs’ Own Thing gives up a lot in terms of ear-wrenching misery, achieving instead a simple Jonathan Richman-like sweetness — a piece of true rock primitivism.

[Ira Robbins]