LOCATION: Playhouse, Newcastle
DATE: Saturday 4 April, 2009
WITH: Mary and Keryl
This was a complete hoot and at times I laughed so much I thought I would explode! I cannot remember the ladies name, but it was a one woman show about bad vinyl. And bad it was, some of it so bad it was good, but bad all the same. She was incredibly dry and had great delivery and her record collection (well the ones we saw) was something to be seen...I was impressed, and you know I do not impress easily. She divided the vinyl into sections, and I am struggling to remember the actual phrases she gave them, as they added to the humour, but they were things like Australiana, Christian, perverts and so on. She had a slide show and played tracks on her ipod- it was a really clever and sparse production, but totally showed you what you needed.
I really cannot recall all of the songs, albums now, but there were a lot of tv shows singing songs - very 80s, some of it good, most of it not, lots of John Laws in tight cream pants and large chested women clinging off him on covers with very sexual, and supposedly macho tracks. Lots of songs with very dodgy lyrics, including a lot of what could only be described as child porn imagery. Yes, Garry Glitter was included, also the Bay City Rollars.
The night rolled on and you really did not want her to stop, her delivery, the songs, the album covers were just funny and sad at the same time! Some songs were a blast from the past, some were not, some you were happy to hear despite the dagginess, others were an unpleasant reminder of things long gone :)
But the highlight of the night, was her highlight, I suspected it was coming, I hoped it was coming and came it did, we got to be incredibly impressed (ok I got to be incredibly impressed and VERY envious) at fact she had her very own vinyl copy of The Shaggs. Now I knew The Shaggs well, they are referenced in a lot of music reading I have done and there is a whole section in one of my favourite books, Vinyl Junkies, dedicated to them - the worst band in the history of the world. I have seen photos, read the stories online and in print but had never heard them. Well, we got to hear a few tracks off their seminal album, Philosophy of The World, and as the comedienne said, once you hear them, you just cannot unhear them, and she was right. Oh my, I have never heard anything so unrhythmic and unmusical in my life, not only could not play their instruments and I really mean not play their instruments, they truly had the most horrendous voices - it was absolutely fabulous, I was grinning ear to ear.
So, for the uninitiated The Shaggs are a female girl group of sisters formed in the late 60s, emulating the girl groups of the days, dressing similarly with fabulous Shagg haircuts, with a svengali father who truly believed they were destined to be the next big thing! No one could be more wrong, ahhh the love of a father. Their songs were truly unique and they have attracted high praise from people like Lester Bangs and both Kurt Cobain and Frank Zappa who named them in their top 5 albums of all time! You can see Frank's attraction, as they played in crazy time signatures, although one could not really say they played in time. Not only was their playing and singing completely nuts, but their song subjects and lyrics were something else all together! Songs about made up whimsical characters took on a life of their own. Anyway, if you want to know more...and you know you do...hook up with their official website...it is totally for real and unashamedly heartfelt. Plus you get to see photos of the Shaggs in their heyday (or as their father said while they were hot - not sure if her was referring to their looks or playing, or both.....)
I am tempted to join their fanclub or purchase a CD copy, but I will hold out in the hope that one day I come across a vinyl copy of Philosophy of the world. What an ambitious album title!