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Keepin' It Surreal

03 JAN 13 DAVID SHANNON

In 1965, The Fugs released The Village Fugs Sing Ballads Of Contemporary Protest, Point Of Views, And General Dissatisfaction, later renamed and re-released by Fantasy Records as The Fugs First Album. For the uninitiated, picture The Fugs as a jug band fronted by lost beat poets, or maybe as Zappa's roadies doing drunken spoken word, or perhaps most apt, as the pit orchestra for the Firesign Theatre. Absurd, counterculture, satirical... The Fugs are all of these, but they are much more.

Legend holds that the FBI kept a file on the band, citing the "suggestive" nature of their lyrics. It doesn't take a federal investigation to recognize that The Fugs' music delves much deeper than mere suggestion.

Possessed of a say-anything id and 5 vocalists, for its first release the band recorded 21 songs that skewer '60s-era American culture, politics, and music, and on many tracks, the band itself. At times you'll realize that the joke's on us; either way you'll be smiling.

Take "Supergirl," The Fugs' take on the time-honored ode to a primal urge: "I wanna girl that can/bend like a sapling/bark like a beagle/bite like a bagel." Don't take The Fugs for a joke band, though. Their versions of Blake and Ginsberg poems set to music reveal a serious sense of lyricism. Beneath the veneer of humor on this album lies a deep grain of song craft and musicality.