The Fugs are a psychedelic folk, garage rock band formed in New York City in 1964. They were known for their lewd lyrical content, had a very comical spin to them, and were vehemently against the Vietnam war and wrote songs and protested against it throughout the sixties. Their name was a euphemism for the word f_ck, and some claim it was the first time an expletive word was used in recorded music. The main members in the Fugs were Tuli Kupferberg, Ed Sanders, and Ken Weaver, as well as many different incarnations throughout the years.
The Fugs first album was originally titled a gawdy The Village Fugs Sing Ballads of Contemporary Protest, Point of Views, and General Dissatisfaction. It was eventually shortened to The Village Fugs or The Fugs First Album.
To be honest, when I first heard The Fugs First Album, I was not impressed at all. As a matter of fact, I couldn’t get through it. But like many people who try beer for the first time and hated it, such as myself, trying again and again, was able to ultimately come to appreciate them. They are an aquired taste. Many consider them to be the very first underground band.
The first song on the album, Slum Goddess, starts off well enough. It is a catchy tune and actually one of the better songs on the record. So my very first exposure to The Fugs was somewhat positive. By the second song, Ah, Sunflower, Weary of Time, which is a song based on a poem by William Blake, I was getting weary. This was not the kind of music I was accustomed to listening to. I didn’t really like the vocals.
The next song, Supergirl, was much better, both musically and vocally, and the lyrics were a bit out there, to say the least. An interesting song with semi poetic lyrics, and a funny bend to it, was probably one of my top two favorites on the record. It took some people by surprise to be sure, as this was some of their most wild and trashy lyrics. Though The Fugs may have sounded a bit odd, and looked a little rough around the edges, they were not a bunch of uneducated vagrants. Kupferberg was a poet, guitarist and composer, and Sanders owned a bookstore called Peace Eye, where the rehearsed their material. Though maybe what they lacked in musical talent at the time time, they made up for lyrically.
The Swinburne Stomp, I can truthfully admit, I find unlistenable, even now, and tend to skip over the song when listening to the record. An acquired taste that I never acquired with this tune.
I Couldn’t Get High is a good song, very entertaining both musically and vocally, if not sounding a bit drunk and stoned, which is what they were going for. They achieved a nice classic sounding garage rock tune with this one.
How Sweet I Roamed From Field To Field works well as a country sounding folk piece. A bit slow, but enjoyable, if you like that kind of down home country twang.
Carpe Diem is good enough musically, but vocally falls short in my opinion. My Baby Done Left Me is your song if you like like yodeling, and a play on the word sh_t. Not one of my favorites.
Boobs A Lot is hilarious, if not a bit obscene and quirky. I don’t think it a great song, however it puts a bit of humor at the end of the album. The album ends on a low note with Nothing, a song about a whole lot of, well, nothing. Sort of bleak and morbid.
The 1993 reissue has a lot more material if anyone is interested. Not great, not horrible, but much of the same as the album, but I am sure there are many people that will like it. At the end of the day, this is not a record that I would put on, but it is interesting, and in some respects, groundbreaking for the times in the mid sixties. Check it out and see what you think.