Classic Album Review
They only pressed one thousand copies of The Shaggs’ Philosophy of the World and nine hundred of them disappeared before anyone important had the chance to hear it.
The group was made up of Dot, Betty and Helen Wiggin and they never even wanted to be in a band. Their father, Austin, made them form a band, decided that they didn’t need to learn to play properly to be musically free and forced them to practice all day, every day locked in the family basement anyway.
Austin would help them settle on a song and then he would make them rehearse it until he thought it was perfect. It was him who gave the band the name “The Shaggs” too.
And at first glance, Philosophy of the World is possibly every bit as bad as that sounds. And if you read the comments on YouTube, you’d realize that many people never get further than a first glance.
The Wiggin’s sisters do not have easy to listen to voices, the guitars are not well made and appear never to have encountered “in key”, even Helen’s drums have no real rhythm.
But that’s not the point, and that’s not why Philosophy of the World is a much, much better album than the bio would suggest, the lyrics are a dark testament to the unhappy nature of the girls’ upbringing.
And in 1980, when the album was unexpectedly re-released it was brought to a whole new audience, who not only loved it, but proclaimed it ahead of its time.
Kurt Cobain, in fact, said that this album was one of the five greatest records of all time, and no, he wasn’t joking.
You’ll have to experience it for yourself and you’ll have to work a little harder than you might with other albums, but this is a truly great record.
Check out our other album reviews here.
The first time Nicholas went to a live gig, 31 years ago, it turned out to be an Iron Maiden secret gig and he became hooked on the music scene. He was one of the founding writers for Astro Zombie a heavy metal and new world techno-inspired zine and his interview with Rob Caggiano of Anthrax brought in over 300,000 readers. He’s based out of Southeast Asia now, but his love of music is as strong and diverse as ever.