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.

Gary Shearston – Songs of Our Time – 1964 – CBS

Gary Shearston - Songs of Our Time - 1964 - CBS

I first read about Gary Shearston in Craig MacGregor’s book People, Politics and Pop. I found a copy of Songs of Our Time for $1. Its cover was ripped cover and the record had so much surface noise that the crackle was as loud as the recording. This LP is one of my all time favourites and features the best version I’ve ever heard of Dirty Old Town. I’ve since bought two other copies in much better condition and one copy on CD. Listening to Gary Shearston taught me that singing in an Australian accent, singing in your own voice, was cool. Over here in Australia the whole culture is living so much in the shadow of America and England, American movies, American and British television, American music and so on that it is nice to be hear performers who aren’t trying to sound either American or British. There is nothing wrong at all with music from the States or from England, some of the best music ever comes from those places but to try to be something that you are not just comes across as false. Shearston had a great voice, it was instantly recognizable. In many ways he was like an Australian Pete Seeger, an anti-war activist, singer and a leftie. Bob Dylan’s manager, Albert Grossman, was going to manage him but Shearston wasn’t allowed to enter the United States of America due to his anti-Vietnam war activities. Later in life he became an Anglican priest. He kept performing and recording and his voice never aged. Sadly Gary died a few weeks back. I’m glad I got to see him perform once. I loved his work but Songs of Our Time remains my favourite record of his. It is great stuff.