Is it the best album ever made? Is it the worst album ever made? No one knows.
In rural New Hampshire 1968, three teenage sisters, Dot, Betty and Helen Wiggin, became The Shaggs and began writing possibly the most confounding music in pop history. It was all for their father, who just wanted his mother’s prophecy that his daughters would be rockstars to come true. The girls were homeschooled and practiced their instruments nonstop. They wrote songs with sweet titles like “My Pal Foot Foot” and titles like “Why Do I Feel?” that would worry any child psychologist. They played their innocent, offbeat, wonky songs every weekend in the local community center, to a usually very unappreciative audience.
The band lasted seven years, until the death of their father. They made a single record— Philosophy of The World, which was largely ignored by the music world at the time of its release. It was rediscovered in 1980 and re-released, and it would be an understatement to say it received mixed reviews. Rolling Stone called it “stunningly awful,” while Frank Zappa seriously referred to the band as “better than the Beatles” and Kurt Cobain named the album his fifth favorite of all time. The album instantly became an outsider hit, and hipsters everywhere still, erm, enjoy, The Shaggs’ honest attempt as musicianship (or the biggest troll album ever).
This September, Philosophy of The World is getting another reissue, per Pitchfork. Almost 50 years later, Light In The Attic Records has remastered the album, and is releasing it on special edition “shag carpet” patterned vinyl. The reissued album will come with new liner notes by Patti Smith guitarist and writer Lenny Kaye. The deluxe edition includes a book of never-before-seen photos (the sisters wore fabulously awful matching outfits for performances), a poster and a “Foot Foot” pin. Light in The Attic has also commissioned a t-shirt design sure to spur conversation.
To celebrate the reissue and all that The Shaggs were, a tribute show will occur at New York’s Le Poisson Rouge, featuring Shagg covers by the Monks, Bush Tetras, Dresden Dolls and members of the B-52’s on Sept. 9. On Sept. 17, one of two surviving Shagg members Dot Wiggin will appear at Harvard Square’s Newbury Comics in Boston to sign copies of the album.
Philosophy of The World will be re-released on Sept. 9. You can preorder the album here, and if you’ve never experienced The Shaggs for yourself, check out the title track from the album below.