“A sixth-floor walkup band”: The Fugs in Sweden, 1968 (photo: Jan Persson)
The Dope-Thrill Fugs
Recommendations by R.C. Baker
July 3rd, 2007 Village Voice
‘Fuck for Peace: A History of the Fugs’
195 Tenth Avenue Through September 8
‘Celebrate Independence Day with flagrant free speech and populist ridicule of the ruling class at this bracing exhibition of protest ephemera. An example of the former: songwriter Ed Sanders’s 1967 poetry collection, Fuck God in the Ass; of the latter: a photo of Nelson Rockefeller flipping the bird, which adorns the cover of bandmate Tuli Kupferberg’s Less Newspoems, a chapbook that sold for “70 cents (2 for 69).” With music self-described as “anti-war/anti-creep/anti-repression” and “dope-thrill chants,” the Fugs (whom Lester Bangs characterized as “not a garage band so much as a sixth-floor walkup band”) represented a major fault line in the cultural tectonics of the ’60s. Somehow they signed with Frank Sinatra’s Reprise label, though they often parodied the hep cats of yore (Kupferberg did a rousing rendition of the “Goldfinger” theme, substituting “Stink-fingaaaaah . . .”). It’s fascinating to see the men’s magazine Cavalier present the band in East Village dishabille near an ad touting a swell in top hat and tails fondling a “Life-Size Instant Party Doll.” The times were certainly a-changin’, and in that grim year of 1968, with the Vietnam War grinding on and Nixon newly elected to lead it, one reviewer, a World War II vet, confessed to surprised admiration for the group in an article headlined “Cause to Worry: Fugs Make Sense.” Album covers such as Star Peace anticipated the Day-Glo tubular stylings of the Blue Man Group, while It Crawled Into My Hand, Honest features Wagnerian costumes worthy of Bugs Bunny’s “What’s Opera, Doc?” Just as wandering through Rome’s Santa Maria del Popolo, surrounded by Caravaggios and Carracis, can sweep you back to the Baroque era, this bookstore’s walls—plastered with mimeographed flyers, loopy fan mail, smutty posters, and FBI surveillance files—truly capture the ’60s at street (or perhaps more accurately, gutter) level.’
link courtesy Michael Simmons!