The Fugs – Fugs 4, Rounders Score – 1975 – ESP Disk

The Fugs - Fugs 4, Rounders Score - 1975 - ESP Disk

From its glorious abstract cover art painted by Jezebel, a chimpanzee from the Portland Zoo, to the feverish, outrageously anarchic songs on the record, this is a joy.
This album is a wild romp of sex, drugs, anti-war sentiment and glorious satire.

This is a compilation. The material was recorded in 1966 and this record was released in 1975. Six of the recordings on side one were previously unreleased. It is a Fugs record but Steve Weber and Peter Stampfel who play on this album were also the two members of the Holy Modal Rounders, hence the title.

The album opens with the totally silly and deliberately juvenile Boobs A Lot, a song that both satirizes a high school football jock’s boob obsession whilst simultaneously revelling in the same obsession. The song is infectious and amusing. It is a good opener.

The Fugs were great at pushing past what was considered decent and then at times pushing past what was considered indecent into the obscene. They didn’t take themselves too seriously even when they were being serious. They were hilarious, prurient, absurd, thought provoking and teetering on the edge of lunacy most of the time. It was great stuff.

My favourite tracks on this are C.I.A. Man, Defeated, Slum Goddess and the beautiful Morning, Morning (which Richie Havens covered on his Mixed Bag album). If you’ve seen Burn After Reading and sat through the credits you’ll have heard his harshly satirical song C.I.A. Man which features on this record, though in a much earlier recording. Kill for Peace is good too.

I can’t remember for certain where I bought this album but I think it was from my friend Cody who used to have a record stall at Gorman House Markets in Canberra. I could be wrong. I never realized how scarce it was until I thought I’d lost it moving house and tried to find a copy online. It wasn’t available anywhere. Eventually I found my copy. That was a relief. It’s a record that means a lot to me.

Advertisements

Peter La Farge – On the Warpath – 1965 – Folkways

Peter La Farge - On  the Warpath - 1965 - Folkways

I was initially aware of Peter La Farge from listening to Johnny Cash and Bob Dylan cover his songs and from reading about him in biographies on those two artists. The first recordings I heard of his were this album and As Long As the Grass Shall Grow which I bought when I was about 19 years old from Yesterday and Today Records, a shop that was in Parramatta which specialized in country records but also had some folk, blues and 60s psycedelia. They were both on one CD released by Bear Family Records.

There was a precision to Peter’s writing that I liked immediately, the songs were so well crafted. There was also something in his voice I could immediately relate to and that I have never heard before or since. Listening to Peter taught me a lot as a singer. I liked his rough hewn playing style too.

It took me about 18 years to get a copy of this on vinyl. Peter La Farge records aren’t exactly easy to find in Australia. In all my years of trawling through second hand record shops, op shops and specialty record stores I only ever found one album on of his on vinyl (a reissue of ‘Sings Women Blues’ on Verve) at Yesterday and Today Records back in the 90s and one album that had a track of his (As Long as the Grass Shall Grow on An Anthology of North American Indian and Eskimo Music, Folkways) at Discovery Records in Hornsby, again back in the 90s. In both of those instances I didn’t have the money to buy them at the time so I just looked at the covers and had a read of the song titles and wished I could afford them and in both instances I went back a couple of days later to buy them when I had the money but they were sold already. It’s funny when I can remember exactly where I saw records that I didn’t even get to buy.

Ebay has altered my record buying habits lately and I now mainly shop online. I found this album there. It took about three weeks to ship to me and I was so happy to see that the cover was in mint condition and that the record had hardly been played. This is probably my favourite album cover. The photograph by David Gahr and the design by Ronald Clyne is striking. It hits the right balance of anger, defiance and pride. Like all Folkways LPs it is cheaply manufactured but it is designed really well and it comes with a nice booklet packed with notes, lyrics and musical notation of the songs.

This was the final album from Peter La Farge. He made five albums in five years. His first was on CBS and the rest were on Folkways. They are all good. He was an actor, a playwright, a rodeo rider, artist and a Korean war veteran. He committed suicide in October 1965. He was 34 years old. He packed a lot into a short life.

If you want to hear his recordings, four of his albums are available from Smithsonian Folkways and if you want to find out more about Peter, film maker Sandra Hale Schulman has made a documentary about him,┬áThe Ballad of Peter La Farge and she’s written a biography Don’t Tell Me How I Looked Falling: The Ballad of Peter La Farge.