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The Shaggs (1988)

The Shaggs kobieca grupa muzyczna założona w Fremont, New Hampshire, USA w 1968 roku przez siostry Wiggin: Dorothy "Dot" Wiggin ( wokal / gitara prowadząca), Betty Wiggin (wokal / gitara rytmiczna), Helen Wiggin (perkusja. Do zespołu dołączyła później Rachel Wiggin (gitara basowa).

Zespół powstał z inicjatywy ojca sióstr - Austina Wiggina, który uwierzył w przepowiednię swojej matki. Jedyny studyjny album grupy - "Philosophy of the World" ukazał się w 1969 roku. Nie przyniósł on sławy wykonawczyniom, mimo to The Shaggs stały się popularne w kręgu muzyki alternatywnej, określanej jako outsider music, do którego zalicza się też m.in.: kompozycje zespołu The Residents oraz twórczość Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band. Zespół rozwiązał się po śmierci Austina Wiggina w 1975 roku.

Po latach the Shaggs zdobyły uznanie i cześć ze względu na niepowtarzalny, amatorski styl, zupełny brak talentu muzycznego jego członkiń, a także pretensjonalność tekstów piosenek.

Powstanie The Shaggs, podobnie jak to, że Austin Wiggins ożeni się z rudą blondynką i będzie miał dwóch synów, wywróżyła mu z dłoni matka. Gdy dwie pierwsze przepowiednie się spełniły, Austin postanowił dopomóc tej ostatniej, która dotyczyła założenia przez jego córki popularnej grupy muzycznej. Zabrał dzieci ze szkoły, kupił instrumenty i opłacił lekcje muzyki i śpiewu.

Nazwę grupy zaczerpnął z określenia popularnego w latach 60. uczesania "shag hairstyle". W 1968 roku zespół grał regularne sobotnie koncerty w Fremont Town Hall. Charakterystyczny dla The Shaggs styl przejawiał się w przewrotnym traktowaniu melodii, rytmu i harmonii, oraz nieregularnych wersach w tekstach piosenek, czyli we wszystkim, czego zwykle wykształceni muzycy się wystrzegają. W 1975 roku Austin Wiggins zmarł na atak serca, co położyło kres działalności The Shaggs.

W 1980 roku Terry Adams i Tom Ardolino z zespołu NRBQ, fani The Shaggs, którzy posiadali oryginalny album grupy, namówili szefów wytwórni Rounder Records do wznowienia "Philosophy of the World". Wtedy to magazyn Rolling Stone przyznał wydawnictwu miano "Comeback of the Year". W 1988 roku na płycie CD ukazała się składanka zawierająca utwory z debiutanckiej płyty The Shaggs oraz dodatkowo piosenki z wydanej w 1982 kompilacji utworów z niewydanego z powodu śmierci Austina Wigginsa drugiego albumu grupy - "Shaggs' Own Thing". Kiedy w 1999 roku wytwórnia RCA Victor dokonała kolejnego wznowienia "Philosophy of the World", w recenzjach na łamach pism Wall Street Journal, czy The New Yorker zaczęto określać zespół mianem klasyki awangardy. Sam Frank Zappa powiedział ponoć, że The Shaggs są lepsze od Beatlesów.

W listopadzie 2003 roku w John Anson Ford Theatre w Los Angeles miała miejsce premiera musicalu o The Shaggs pt. "Philosophy of the World" autorstwa Joya Gregory'ego, z muzyką Gunnara Madsena, w reżyserii Johna Langa.

Perkusistka The Shaggs Helen Wiggins zmarła w 2006 roku. (wikipedia)

The Shaggs were an American all-female rock group formed in Fremont, New Hampshire in 1968. The band was composed of sisters Dorothy "Dot" Wiggin (vocals/lead guitar), Betty Wiggin (vocals/rhythm guitar), Helen Wiggin (drums) and, later , Rachel Wiggin (bass).

The Shaggs were formed by Dot, Betty and Helen in 1968, on the insistence of their father, Austin Wiggin, who believed that his mother foresaw the band's rise to stardom. The band's only studio album, Philosophy of the World, was released in 1969. The album failed to garner attention, though the band continued to exist as a locally popular live act. The Shaggs disbanded in 1975 after the death of Austin.

The band is primarily notable today for their perceived ineptitude at playing conventional rock music; the band was described in one Rolling Stone article as "...sounding like lobotomized Trapp Family singers." As the obscure LP achieved recognition among collectors, the band was praised for their raw, intuitive composition style and lyrical honesty.

Philosophy of the World was lauded as a work of art brut, and was later reissued, followed by a compilation album, Shaggs' Own Thing, in 1982. The Shaggs are now seen as a groundbreaking outsider music group, receiving praise from mainstream artists such as Kurt Cobain and also from Frank Zappa after he called the Shaggs "better than the Beatles". Terry Adams of NRBQ compared the group's melodic lines and structures to the free jazz compositions of Ornette Coleman.

The conceptual beginning of The Shaggs came from Austin Wiggin, Jr.'s mother. During Austin's youth she had predicted during a palmreading that he would marry a strawberry blonde woman, that he would have two sons after she had died, and that his daughters would form a popular music group. The first two predictions came true, so Austin set about making the third come true. Austin withdrew his daughters from school, bought them instruments, and arranged for them to receive music and vocal lessons. The Wiggin sisters themselves never planned to become a music group, but as Dot later said, "[Austin] was something of a disciplinarian. He was stubborn and he could be temperamental. He directed. We obeyed. Or did our best." Austin named The Shaggs after the then-popular shag hairstyle and as a reference to shaggy dogs. In 1968, Austin arranged for the girls to play a regular Saturday night gig at the Fremont, New Hampshire Town Hall.

On the topic of the album, Cub Koda wrote, "There's an innocence to these songs and their performances that's both charming and unsettling. Hacked-at drumbeats, whacked-aroun chords, songs that seem to have little or no meter to them ... being played on out-of-tune, pawn-shop-quality guitars all converge, creating dissonance and beauty, chaos and tranquility, causing any listener coming to this music to rearrange any pre-existing notions about the relationships between talent, originality, and ability. There is no album you might own that sounds remotely like this one." (emphasis in original) Reportedly, during the recording sessions the band would occasionally stop playing, claiming one of them had made a mistake and that they needed to start over, leaving the sound engineers to wonder how the girls could tell when a mistake had been made.

At this point, the man who had promised to press 1,000 copies of Philosophy of the World reportedly absconded with 900 of them, as well as with the money paid him. The rest were circulated to New England radio stations but attracted little attention, and Austin's dreams of superstardom for his girls were dashed.

Upon closer examination, The Shaggs seem to have a consistent (but highly idiosyncratic) approach to melody, harmony, and rhythm. The songs use highly irregular verse structures, which are emphasized by the melodic structures, which typically accord one note per syllable: the guitar accompaniment attempts to reproduce this pattern as well. Most of the Shaggs' material is made up of eighth- and quarter-notes.

In 1975, Austin Wiggin arranged a second recording session for his daughters, during which time the group recorded several songs. However, when the sessions were forestalled by Austin's fatal heart attack, The Shaggs aborted the recording project and disbanded the group shortly thereafter.

In 1980, Terry Adams and Tom Ardolino, of the band NRBQ, who owned an original copy of the LP and were fans of the music, convinced their record label, Rounder Records, to reissue Philosophy of the World. Upon the LP's release, Rolling Stone magazine accorded the Shaggs "Comeback of the Year" honors. The album was widely—if derisively—reviewed. Adams and Ardolino issued some unreleased 1975 recordings on the 1982 LP Shaggs' Own Thing, but its closer approximation to conventional music caused some to disregard this collection. In 1988 Dorothy Wiggin rediscovered the lost masters of Philosophy of the World in a closet; these and the tracks from Shaggs' Own Thing were remastered and released on Rounder as a self-titled compilation, which had a resequencing of all tracks. RCA Victor released Philosophy of the World (with the original track sequence) on CD in 1999, whereupon it was hailed as something of an avant-garde cult classic. The Wall Street Journal reviewed the CD on the day it was released, and The New Yorker subsequently ran a lengthy profile of the Shaggs, authored by Susan Orlean.

On November 20 and 21, 1999, NRBQ celebrated their thirtieth anniversary with two concerts in New York City; their opening act each night were The Shaggs. Helen, who had been suffering from depression for years, declined to attend, so Ardolino, NRBQ's drummer, was faced with the challenging task of attempting to play Helen's parts. Dot, Betty, Rachel, and Ardolino played the same four-song set both nights. These performances marked the Shaggs' only live stage appearances outside of Fremont.

In 2001, the Animal World label released Better Than The Beatles, a Shaggs tribute album. The title was based on the title of an article by Lester Bangs in which he described the importance of what The Shaggs accomplished musically. The album featured established acts such as Ida, Optiganally Yours, R. Stevie Moore, Deerhoof and Danielson Famille covering The Shaggs' songs.

Artisan Entertainment bought the movie rights to the band's story in 2000, with Katherine Dieckmann assigned to script and direct.[citation needed] Since that time, the project has been acquired by a succession of production companies, but no film has yet been made.

A stage musical about The Shaggs, Philosophy of the World by librettist/lyricist Joy Gregory, composer/lyricist Gunnar Madsen, and co-conceiver/director John Langs, opened at the John Anson Ford Theatre in Los Angeles in November 2003. The LA Weekly Theater Award-winning Scenic Design was created by Brian Sidney Bembridge. The production was staged at Lookingglass Theatre Company in Chicago in the spring of 2004 and at the New York Musical Theatre Festival in September 2005.

The show received its New York premiere starting May 12, 2011 in a co-production between Playwrights Horizons and New York Theatre Workshop.

In May 2011 The Shaggs were the subject of a BBC Radio 4 documentary by Jon Ronson. Helen Wiggin died in 2006. She was survived by her two sons. The widow of Austin Wiggin, Jr., Annie Wiggin, died in 2005. (wikipedia)

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