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Album Review: Philosophy of the World [Remastered] by The Shaggs
Excellent, Based on 3 Critics
Pitchfork - 86 Based on rating 8.6/10
The Wiggin family of Fremont, New Hampshire were an all-American bunch. Father Austin Wiggin Jr. and Mother Annie were blessed with a lovely brood of six: Two boys, Robert and Austin III, and four daughters, Dorothy (Dot), Betty, Helen, and Rachel. However, in Austin’s eyes, his traditional-seeming clan was anything but—their existence was actually a case of cosmic circumstance.
Depending on your perspective, the Shaggs’ Philosophy of the World either represents the very ideal of creative expression and naiveté in its purest form or an unlistenable mess of an album lionized ironically by the underground cognoscenti—notably hailed by both Frank Zappa and Kurt Cobain—and at the expense of the performers. And while there are certainly valid points for either side, it is nonetheless one of the more fascinating albums to come from the decade that changed the face of popular music. Often referred to as the holy grail of private press releases, having initially only been released in a run of 1,000, the Shaggs’ Philosophy of the World sounds utterly unlike anything else before or sense.
The Shaggs’ 1969 album is back for its first western issue since the 90s. The sturdy RC ratings system broke under the strain, for how does one rate an album that is both a one star and a five star item at the same time? The legendary private pressing originally disappeared without trace, and a couple of minutes of the ham-fisted playing and discordant vocals is enough to explain why. Don’t believe anyone who says they meant it to sound like that – even they say they didn’t.