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Cult all-girl band from the late 60s, whose bewildering debut LP Philosophy of the World is simply beyond explanation.

If you don't despise them outright, the Shaggs' creative incompetence will challenge almost every preconception you have about pop music. Most people will react to the Shaggs as jazz bandleader Carla Bley did when she said: "They bring my mind to a complete halt."

The Shaggs were the three teenage daughters of one Austin Wiggin Jr--Betty (electric guitars and voice), Dorothy or "Dot" (electric bass), and Helen (drums). They lived in Fremont, New Hampshire. Father Wiggin had persuaded his daughters to take music lessons and form a band, and after they spent some time practicing, he decided that they were ready to make an album.

After the studio engineer heard them play, he tried to gently suggest that the Shaggs weren't ready yet. Legend has it that Austin replied, "No, I want to get them while they're hot."

And Philosophy of the World was born. Even though a crooked distributor stole the Shaggs' money and left them with a mere boxful of records, the record eventually became an underground classic thanks to WBCN, a college radio station in Boston, and musician-fans like Frank Zappa and Jonathan Richman.

Eventually, members of NRBQ persuaded Rounder Records to reissue Philosophy in 1980, and finally the rest of the world had a chance to check out the Shaggs. Additional Shaggs master tapes were discovered (which were reissued under the name Shaggs' Own Thing), and the exploits of the Shaggs have been chronicled by Irwin Chusid in a chapter from his book Songs In The Key of Z, which is about outsider music.

So try the Shaggs. No matter what happens, you will never forget it.

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