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The Fugs Greatest Hits I

The Fugs

The Fugs, Greatest Hits 1, Proto-Punk

Greatest Hits 1, Proto Punk

LP, PVC/Adelphi, PVC 8914, AD 4116 (1982)

Transcribed and annotated by Lester Bangs Archive management.


From the back cover:[1]

I remember the first time I heard the Fugs.[2]  It was 1966, I'd just graduated from high school, and the suburban Southern California town I lived[3] in didn't carry lots of the albums on obscure levels by the far-out underground rock groups who all seemed to be from San Francisco, Texas, or the East Coast. I used to have to ride the bus into downtown San Diego to this place called Ratner's, where the year before I'd come to buy jazz albums, blues and ragas. Now I was buying sh*t.

I'd come in there and ask to hear something like the 13th Floor Elevators, the woman there would put it on for me (them being the days when you could still get people in record stores to actually play the discs for you without being expected to buy them), I'd listen to about 16 seconds of clamor and say "I'll take it" while everybody in the place snickered. One day I walked in and bought the second Fugs album, took it home and was astounded, came back and asked the clerk what the first Fugs album sounded like. "Oh, just a little more primitive," she smiled, a bit sarcastically I thought. I couldn't imagine at the time how anything could possibly be more primitive than the second Fugs album (when I heard The Fugs First Album, of course, I found out). When I played "Virgin Forest" on that second album for my nephew,[4] he had a word for the Fugs: "The people are sick," he said.

No, they weren't. They were poets, with a bedrock primitive folkie guitarswatter of two thrown in to round out the hairmoon pie. Ed Sanders and Tuli Kupferberg had enjoyed quite respectable careers as beatniks on the Lower East Side for several years before forming the band with Ken Weaver, Peter Stampfel, Steve Weber and several others who shifted from album to album. So don't ever make the Seventies mistake of thinking they did this stuff just to get famous. They did it to EXPRESS THEMSELVES (let us recall that the cover of the later Fugs Four, Rounders Score was painted by a chimp)!

Notes: Lester Bangs, 1981


[1] The insert The Fugs Story contains a longer and more colorful version of these liner notes. While this unedited version is currently unavailable, the following quote from it included in an on-line article by Bangs's biographer Jim DeRogatis probably demonstrates the main reason why a redacted version was needed for the album cover: 

"Now’days, when Hustler features a pic of a naked woman being ground into hamburger on its cover, it’s easy to forget (or, if you weren’t around for the Sixties, wonder) how gestures like the lipfart scatology and yubba dubba doo boudoir bomp of these songs could be thought of as rallying war cries for a new and more humanistic social order. The idea being, of course, that if we all balled three times a day after each meal, and scarfed our righteous Owsley Pink Wedge, mass liberation was just around the corner… [But] don’t ever make the Seventies mistake of thinking they did this stuff just to get famous. They did it to EXPRESS THEMSELVES!"

[2] The Fugs banded in New York City in 1964. The group's name is an homage to The Naked and the Dead, by Norman Mailer, who was pressured by his publishers to adopt the euphemism instead of the word "f**k".

[3] El Cajon, California lies on the eastern outskirts of the cities of San Diego and La Mesa in what locals refer to as "East County" (the east regions of San Diego County). Technically speaking, El Cajon is a suburb to San Diego. However, Bangs writes "suburban" here for its literal definition, rather than to invoke the now stereotypical image of a sleepy enclave of middle to upper middle-class residences. El Cajon today does have its affluent neighborhoods, but, in 1965, Lester's El Cajon was predominantly a working class town with a population of 45,000 with the same municipal issues and ideals as its major metropolitan neighbor.

[4] Nephew Ben Catching became the executor of Lester Bangs's estate. 

Last Updated: 08/27/2016
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