Album: The Fugs

Final CD, Rykodisc

Friday 09 January 2004 01:00

The Fugs were crucial catalysts of Sixties bohemianism, their barnstorming blend of folk, filth, psychedelia and poetry providing a pre-Zappa rallying-point for disaffected beatniks and similarly displaced weirdos. Their musical peak was reached in late-Sixties outsider anthems but they've continued to release intermittent salvos ever since - their venerable status affirmed here by Tuli Kupferberg's "Septuagenarian In Love", which unflinchingly adapts "Teenager In Love" to the ravages of age. The group's song-poems deal with a range of social and political issues, from the links between the Bush and bin Laden families ("Go Down Congress"), and the messianic attitude of Attorney General John Ashcroft ("Government Surveillance Yodel"), to Clinton's claim, "it all depends what the meaning of 'is' is," here acclaimed as a philosophical maxim equivalent in status to "To be or not to be". It can get a bit laboured particularly in Ed Sanders' "Perpitude", but reflections in pieces like "Burn, Bridges, Burn" and "Poem by Charles Bukowski" on the problems ageing radicals face, are illuminating, as are the aphorisms in "Advice From the Fugs", the best of which runs: "Pursue the small utopias: nature, music, friendship, intimate love." Can't top that.

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