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Shaggy – Lessons for Beginners (45th Anniversary Reissue)

Lessons for Beginners (45th Anniversary Reissue)
by Mike McMahan at 13 May 2020, 5:19 PM

Originally formed in Sweden in 1972, SHAGGY is a five piece Progressive/Hard Rock band whose first album, “Lessons for Beginners,” is now in a 45th Anniversary Reissue on Sonic Age Records. Thanks to musician’s musician, journalist, and all-around talented cat Janne Stark (OVERDRIVE, MERRIWEATHER-STARK, BANDOLIER KINGS), there are four additional tracks here which eluded the original 1975 release. The band has been influenced by the likes of DEEP PURPLE and early URIAH HEAP, and that influence certainly rears its head throughout this album.

Destination Nowhere,” the first cut on this record, opens up with a nasty, greasy guitar riff on par with the finest of its day. It is said that Scottish Hard Rockers NAZARETH had wanted to cover this particular song at one point, and it is obvious as to why. The song is a very solid rocker; and checking in at four minutes and thirty-six seconds, it is just long enough to give you a great feel for the musical talent involved without boring you to death. It is unfortunate that after this song, and with very little exception, the band starts to lose me.

The second track, “Vengeance,” while opening promisingly enough, goes into the verse with a lead vocal that feels more like it is chasing its own tail than telling a story. The song feels like the band just threw stuff at it for the sake of filling an empty spot. It is unfortunate, because the band is obviously capable of much more; especially on the musical front.

Two specific highlights for me were the instrumental cuts “Lessons for Beginners” and the solo guitar piece “I Can Feel.” The former is a very clever play on EDVARD GRIEG’s “The Hall of the Mountain King,” and it pulls no punches. The song cranks from the opening licks to the close, showing the musical prowess I have already alluded to. “I Can Feel,” as I stated, is a solo acoustic classical guitar piece, the likes of which might have made the mighty Steve Howe of YES fame begin to stand up and salivate.

The band is not at all terrible, but outside of a few tracks, the remainder I found very forgettable. They seem as musically gifted as most around at the time, but didn’t seem to have the muster to hold it together on this one.

Songwriting: 6
Musicianship: 9
Memorability: 6
Production: 7

3 Star Rating

1. Destination Nowhere
2. Vengeance
3. Bitch
4. No Strings
5. Lessons for Beginners
6. On the Road
7. Nobody Cares
8. I Can Feel
9. Brink of Nowhere
10. I Don’t Know
11. Sea Queen
12. Sunshine
13. Lessons for Beginners (Demo)
Janne Gustavsson – Bass, Vocals
Kurt Kastner – Drums, Backing Vocals
Jan Rognas – Lead and Acoustic Guitars
Thomas Engstrom – Lead Vocals
Thomas J. Ryan – Organ, Backing Vocals
Record Label: Sonic Age Records


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Edited 31 May 2020

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