• Cream of The Crate: CD #1 - The Fugs (The Fugs First Album)

      0 Not allowed! Not allowed!
      "That the second album reached number 75 on the sales chart with a roach clip and bullet, shocked me with success" (Ed Sanders - The Fugs)

      Album Cover

      This is
      number one in the series of albums I'm featuring as part of an on-going retrospective of CD albums in my personal collection. Following on from the series called, "Cream of The Crate" (vinyl), these CD's are one's that I believe are of significant musical value because they represent the best of a style or styles of music or because their is something unique about the group or the music.

      I will return to
      Cream of The Crate (Vinyl) in due course. However due to a number of people contacting me in regard to discussing material available either only on CD, or released on CD because the vinyl is now almost impossible to source, I thought it would be appropriate to examine some of these 'unusual' or 'artistically fantastic' CD's in my crate at home.

      Now one of the most difficult choices I had to make was deciding on what was going to be the first CD, because the closer I looked the more I realised that there were some potentially really interesting CD's to discuss. The material ranges from the really well known, such as "Dylan", to black material such as "Robert Johnson's" complete works. I have a fantastic boxed set released by the "Byrds"and the "Rolling Stones" boxed set of all their 'Singles' releases. Then there is the really unusual such as the little known groups who had a profound effect on the future development of music. One such example is the embryonic rappers - "The Last Poets".

      The 'bent' side of me cried out, "Don't be safe - go bizarre"!

      So it is that the first "Cream of The Crate (CD) is "The Fugs", also known as "The Village Fugs". The very first release by them was on vinyl, and was titled:
      "The Village Fugs Sing Ballads of Contemporary Protest, Point of Views [sic], and General Dissatisfaction" (1965). I never had this album but I did have two copies, at various times, of their second vinyl release - "The Fugs" (1966).

      However one vinyl copy after another was stolen and eventually I moved across to a CD version of their material!

      Thus we come to this weeks CD, "The Fugs First Album". Released on FUGS records (FCD-9668-2), it is in fact all the material (10 tracks) from that first vinyl album plus a series of an additional 11 tracks from previously unreleased material and 3 tracks from their live performance, "Napalm" (1965) and one more bonus track from the 'Tuli Tapes'.

      Rear cover

      I guess one advantage that the CD media has (if I put aside my own preference for the sound of vinyl over CD), is that in addition to those original tracks that formed a given vinyl album, we oftenget bonus tracks that may never have otherwise been released!

      So with this album/CD, we end up with 21 tracks that run for a total of 63:00 minutes and really, these tracks represent the 'best' and certainly the most hilarious and 'off-the-planet' tracks. I was going to write ever recorded by The Fugs - frankly they are the most off-the planet tracks ever recorded by anyone!!!.

      Who are The Fugs?

      The Fugs (1966)

      In the initial group were two poets, Szarbo and Al Fowler, who were good writers and that helped but according to The Fugs, the requirements to be a Fug, whilst minimal, had to be met. There were in fact three requirements.
      1. A gift for writing.
      2. A thirst for Bacchic rout.
      3. The ability to turn up to gigs.

      It was in fact that third requirement of actually showing up, that meant as brilliant as they were they failed (miserably) and so they were out. After only two rehearsals the Fugs did their first gigs in and around the East Village galleries and theaters. Incidentally, I guess for those of you being introduced to The Fugs for the first time, the guys were natives of the lower east side of New York City - "beat paradise"!

      One of their first gigs was on February 24 1956 at the Peace Eye Bookshop, for which Andy Warhol created wall banners of his famous silkscreen flowers.

      So the Fugs were officially born and consisted of these fine gentlemen below.

      From the left (standing) - Steve Weber & Peter Stampfel, (seated): Ken Weaver, Tuli Kupferberg, Ed Sanders

      Now you will have noticed that there was no requirement to actually play an instrument in the requirements to be a Fug! This meant that the Fugs were not limited by the boundaries created by wearing the label "musician", and some would say this was a good thing. However others would just sit with mouths gaping and heads shaking. Ed Sanders wrote, "the fact that Tuli and I, and later Ken, had not been educated at the Juilliard School of Music did not create any problems, because we had already been fully trained in that very informal but exacting institution one could call the Beatnik Academy of the Outlandish Spectacle…."

      Yet despite their unique approach to music, it needs to be pointed out that both Steve Weber and Peter Stampfel were members of the Group, "Holy Modal Rounders", and in fact that group had a track that was used in the cult movie "Easy Rider". That track was, "If You Wanna be A Bird", from the album The Moray Eels Eat the Holy Modal Rounders (1969).

      According to the Fugs, they drew inspiration from a variety of sources which included, but was not limited to, 'prancing dances of Dionysus', 'Dadaism', the 'jazz-poetry of the Beats', 'Charlie Parker', 'John Cage' (particularly his silences). They tied all this up with cultural and religious traditions commingling beautiful Yiddish/Hebrew melodies with radical tunes of the New York Anarcho-Left.

      If that was not enough they have been quoted as saying, that into all of this they blended three-chord hymns of the First Christian Church with Chuck Berry and Hank Williams. Then they hit the audiences with it all, declaring that, "there was oodles of freedom guaranteed by the United States Constitution that was not being used."

      They used it regularly and they used it powerfully!

      Now there is so much that can be said about The Fugs. It is easy to forget that this is actually a retro-review of their first album. So it really is time top actually look at the music. If you are interested in more history of the group, just click onto the picture below.

      Back to to the music on this album. Here we have a problem! I mean how could you be invited to review the art in the Louvre, and be limited to 4 or 5 pieces? This is the problem with this album.

      It is absolutely one of those albums that you connect with in its entirety or you hate! It's simple, either you get it,or you don't. The thing is, there is actually no right or wrong with how you hear this album. That's not the way the Fugs work.

      Lets start with a track listing.

      1. "Slum Goddess" (Ken Weaver) – 1:58
      2. "Ah, Sunflower, Weary of Time" (William Blake, Ed Sanders) – 2:15
      3. "Supergirl" (Tuli Kupferberg) – 2:18
      4. "Swinburne Stomp" (Sanders, A.C. Swinburne) – 2:50
      5. "I Couldn't Get High" (Weaver) – 2:06
      6. "How Sweet I Roamed" (Blake, Sanders) – 2:11
      7. "Carpe Diem" (Kupferberg) – 5:07
      8. "My Baby Done Left Me" (Sanders) – 2:18
      9. "Boobs a Lot" (Steve Weber) – 2:12
      10. "Nothing" (Kupferberg) – 4:18

      CD bonus tracks
      11. "We're the Fugs" (Sanders) – 1:25
      12. "Defeated" (Kupferberg) – 3:25
      13. "The Ten Commandments" (Kupferberg) – 2:59
      14. "CIA Man" (Kupferberg) – 2:52
      15. "In the Middle of Their First Recording Session the Fugs Sign the Worst Record
      Contract since Leadbelly's (Petitos) - 2:49

      16. "I Saw the Best Minds of My Generation Rot" (Ginsberg, Sanders) – 4:51
      17. "Spontaneous Salute to Andy Warhol (From Rehearsal at the Peace Eye Boo)" (Sanders) - 1:23
      18. "War Kills Babies" – 1:41
      19. "The Fugs National Anthem" (Kupferberg, Sanders) – 1:16
      20. "The Fugs Spaghetti Death (No Redemption No Redemption) – A Glop of Spaghetti for Andy Warhol From
      the Tuli Tapes" (Sanders) - 3:54

      21. "The Rhapsody of Tuli" (Kupferberg, Sanders) – 8:35

      In an effort to provide a decent cross-section of the music, I'll start with track #1. "Slum Goddess" is one of the Fugs most popular songs. The east side of New York, whilst known for its fantastic counterculture, was in fact in this period seen by most New Yorkers as indeed, a slum! This made it a perfect reason to become the focus of what the Fugs describe as, "a really hot song."

      "Sherry ran away, come to live in the slums
      Her parents hired detectives, they were posing as bums
      Taking acid in a crash pad again
      Slum Goddess from the lower East Side
      Slum Goddess won't you please be my bride
      She organized a commune on Avenue A
      She swears the revolution's just a pamphlet away
      One Big Union with peacock feather dues
      Dope sex revolution pretty paisley hues
      Slum Goddess from the lower East Side
      Slum Goddess won't you please be my bride
      It was the summer of love, 1967
      She said, come lie with me and we'll check into heaven
      There were 16 mattresses, a candle-wax floor
      And posters from the love-in on her day-glow door
      All the poets want to be with her, Sherry
      Dionysus wants to dance with her, Sherry
      All the pacifists want to love her, Sherry
      ooo Sherry Sherry Sherry
      ooo Sherry Sherry Sherry
      Slum Goddess from the lower East Side
      Slum Goddess won't you please be my bride
      She walks through the park, all the hippie hearts melt
      Her skirt's not much wider than a farrison belt
      She says history's no mystery
      Blast the past
      It's the hour of power for Blake's sunflower
      Slum Goddess from the lower East
      Side Slum Goddess won't you please be my bride
      Slum Goddess from the lower East Side
      I'm going to make her my bride"

      Slum Goddess

      I would have definitely added "I Couldn't Get High" to list of tracks to play, but I was actually able to find a video of a live performance so that track is below in the video section. Instead we move onto track #9 and "Boobs A Lot". This is a great song, a fun song. I even have a close female friend, who June (my wife) and I see regularly. Born in the States she remembers 'discovering' the Fugs in College and also remembers getting very stoned and heartily singing along with this track (and most of the Fugs tracks). You know what? she still sings along today!

      Now if you are a 'politically correct' modern person, you wouldn't like this track, let alone sing along. This is a 'throw-back' to the days when we didn't watch our "ps'', and "q's" and we had FUN! Here are just some of the lyrics (so you can't say you weren't warned!).

      "Do you like boobs a lot?
      (Yes, I like boobs a lot.)
      Boobs a lot, boobs a lot.
      (You gotta like boobs a lot.)
      Really like boobs a lot.
      (You gotta like boobs a lot.)
      Boobs a lot, boobs a lot.
      (You gotta like boobs a lot.)

      Down in the locker room,
      Just three boys,
      Beatin' down the locker room
      With all that noise,

      Singin' do you like boobs a lot?
      (You gotta like boobs a lot.)
      Boobs a lot, boobs a lot.
      (You gotta like boobs a lot.)"

      Just listen out for the plaintif cry toward the end .... "I'll tell you one thing, I sure do like boobs a lot!"

      Boobs A Lot

      Track # 10. "Nothing"! Why would you sing about nothing? Well, you would if you believed in Nhilism? It is a song about futility of life, when you have nothing and you live in the lower-east side of New York, and you see rampant capatilism all around you, and, you ARE the Fugs, then it all suddenly makes sense. In fact the song was based upon an old Jewish song. According to Tuli, "
      Nothing" was taken from an old Jewish song called "Potatoes," which went "Monday potatoes/Tuesday potatoes/Wednesday, Thursday, potatoes/Friday for a change, potato kugel/Saturday again it's potatoes."

      Now it does boarder on what might best be described as a 'dirge' but we look past this, because this is a deliberate ploy by the Fugs, to reinforce that life can be a dirge, that it all means nothing, unless you are having a ball, like the Fugs are.


      "Monday, nothing
      Tuesday, nothing
      Wednesday and Thursday nothing
      Friday, for a change
      a little more nothing
      Saturday once more nothing

      Sunday nothing
      Monday nothing
      Tuesday and Wednesday nothing
      Thursday, for a change
      a little more nothing
      Friday once more nothing

      Montik gornisht,
      Dinstik Gornisht
      Midwoch an Donnerstik gornisht
      Fritik, far a noveneh gornisht pikveleh
      Shabas nach a mool gornisht

      Lunes nada
      Martes nada
      Miercoles y Jueves nada
      Viernes, por cambia
      un poco mas nada
      Sabado otra vez nada

      January nothing
      February nothing
      March and April nothing
      May and June
      a lot more nothing
      July nothing

      '29 nothing
      '32 nothing
      '39, '45 nothing
      1965 a whole lot of nothing
      1966 nothing

      reading nothing
      writing nothing
      even arithmetic nothing
      geography, philosophy, history, nothing
      social anthropology a lot of nothing

      oh, Village Voice nothing
      New Yorker nothing
      Sing Out and Folkways nothing
      Harry Smith and Allen Ginsberg
      nothing, nothing, nothing

      poetry nothing
      music nothing
      painting and dancing nothing
      The world's great books
      a great set of nothing
      Audy and Foudy nothing

      fucking nothing
      sucking nothing
      flesh and sex nothing
      Church and Times Square
      all a lot of nothing
      nothing, nothing, nothing

      Stevenson nothing
      Humphrey nothing
      Averell Harriman nothing
      John Stuart Mill nil, nil
      Franklin Delano nothing

      Karlos Marx nothing
      Engels nothing
      Bakunin and Kropotkin nothing
      Leon Trotsky lots of nothing
      Stalin less than nothing

      nothing nothing nothing nothing
      lots and lots of nothing
      nothing nothing nothing nothing nothing
      lots of it
      Not a God damn thing"

      Finally I have chosen a track that wasn't on the original album, but is one of the bonus tracks. I was really, really tempted to choose track # 15, I mean a track titled "In the Middle of Their First Recording Session The Fugs Sign the Worse Contract Since Leadbelly's" just begs listening to. In fact they signed for 3% of Royalties - basically 'pissing' away their music for nothing!

      But I didn't choose that track, I have chosen track # 14. Being an old hippy-activist from way back, I couldn't go past "CIA Man". Now on radio I would have to give you a warning about the use language' - but hell you would be expecting it by now and this isn't radio. This is certainly a great recording! There is a (good) attempt to sing two part harmonies and I utterly love the guitar work. "Fucking - A Man!" (CIA Man!)

      CIA Man

      Oh hell, I usually only review a maximum of 4 tracks per review, but I can't finish off this album review without going to a REAL rocker, and that is track # 16 - "I Saw The Best My Generation Rock". Possible the most 'coherent' musical track on the album, please don't let that put you off, it is still worthy of inclusion.

      I Saw The Best Minds Of My Generation Rock

      So we come to the end of the review. In fact The Fugs are still playing today, however with the death of Tuli in 2010, even they had to admit that it left a hole hard to fill. In fact there have been no less than 10 line-up changes of the Fugs with Tuli, Ed and Ken being the mainstay of the eight changes between 1963 and 1969 and Tuli and Ed between 1986 and 2010.

      A Promotional photograph from 1966

      Anyone who is a serious collector of music, particularly from the 1960's, must have a copy of either a vinyl or CD of the first or second Fugs album. They are so seriously different while exemplifying the wondrously rich 'counter-culture' music of the day.

      Their albums are available on eBay, both original and re-releases, vinyl and CD.

      VIDEOS - There are very, very few live clips of the Fugs from the early days. Not surprising when the mainstream press, radio stations, television, promoters, record companies, venue owners (and even audiences), didn't know what to make of them.

      However, here are three clips that do show some of the wonderful anarchic and brilliant talent of The Fugs!

      I Couldn't Get High

      Kill For Peace

      Fugs on Swedish TV

      Previous Cream of The Crate Albums

      #1 – Howling Wolf: Real Folk Blues

      #2 – Otis Redding: Otis Blue/ Otis Redding Sings Soul

      #3 – Dr John The Night Tripper: Gris Gris

      #4 – Spectrum: ROYGBIV

      #5 – Son House: The Real Delta Blues

      #6 – Cruisin ‘61

      #7 – Live At The Station Hotel

      #8 – Crosby, Stills Nash & Young: Dιjΰ Vu

      #9 – Moon Mullican: Rock it to the Moon

      #10 – Billy Thorpe: Time Traveller

      #11 – Bobby and Laurie: Cum Sum Ambulant (Hitch Hiker)

      #12 – Jimi Hendrix: Electric Ladyland

      #13 – The Beatles: The Beatles Collection

      #14 – Johnny O’Keefe: 20th Anniversary Album

      #15 – Jimmy Cliff (and others): The harder They Come (The Soundtrack from the movie by the same name)

      #16 – Frank Zappa: Roxy and Elsewhere

      #17 – Junior Walker & The All Stars: Roadrunner

      #18 - The Moonglows, Flamingos & The Orioles: Jump

      #19 - King Federal - Rockabillys: Various Artists

      #20 - Max Merritt and The Meteors: Max Merritt & The Meteors

      #21 - Planet Gong: Camembert Electrique

      # 22 - Earth, Wind & Fire: Head To The Sky

      #23 - Ellen McIlwaine: We The People

      #24 - The Easybeats: Absolute Anthology

      #25 - Rainbow Generator: Dance Of The Spheres

      #26 - Martha and the Vandellas: Greatest Hits

      #27 - Buddy Holly: A Rock and Roll Collection

      #28 - The Who: Quadrophenia

      #29 - Elvis: The legend (1954 - 1961)

      #30 - Col Joye: Let's Rock With

      #31 - The Yardbirds: For Your Love

      #32 - Eddy Cochran: The Singles Album

      #33 - Krozier & The Generator: Tranceformer

      #34 - Pink Floyd: Boxed set of LP's

      #35 - Jackie Wilson: Jackie Sings the Blues

      #36 - Cream: Wheels of Fire: In The Studio

      #37 - Masters Apprentices: Masterpiece

      #38 - The Dead Kennedys: Fresh Fruit For Rotting Vegetables

      #39 - Billie Holiday: The Original Recordings

      #40 - MPD LTD: The Wild Side of Life

      #41 - Solomon Burke: Greatest Hits

      #42 - Nina Hagen: Unbehagen

      #43 - Various Artists: Rockabilly Stars Vol.3

      #44 - Louis Jordan: The Best of

      #45 - Various Australian Artists: Decade Volume 1

      #46 - Led Zepplin: Zepplin II

      #47 - Donavon: Open Road

      #48 - Dick Dale and The Del-Tones: King Of The Surf Guitar

      #49 - Various Artists: Black Gospel

      #50 - Various (Australian) Artists: The Raven EP-LP

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