Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

The Fugs: The Fugs First Album [Fantasy, 1994]
If I had any principles I'd carp as usual. Why not excise what a neutral observer would reasonably judge unlistenable--tuneless "Ah, Sunflower," contract discussion, Warhol raspberries--and fold in the undeniable likes of "Kill for Peace" and "Morning Morning" from the The Fugs Second Album, which comes complete with echo, vocal harmonies, actual lead guitar? Or better still, let Rhino mine the un-CD'ed Warner catalogue for a best-of permanently establishing their right to make fun of Andy, whose gossip squad still disses these latter-day beatniks with catty bohemian-sectarian condescension. Well, sometimes history is its own reward. The counterculture the Fugs inhabit is fascinating even when it isn't entertaining, and educational both ways. Not only do they bury most Kerouac, but their prerock music--with Peter Stampfel chiming in, Ken Weaver not yet a burlier Spencer Dryden, and (crucially) Tuli Kupferberg's songs at the forefront--rides the homemade charm and unsullied aura of discovery lo-fi sentimentalists think they're living for. A-