Nuggets: Original Artyfacts From
The First Psychedelic Era 1965-1968
Released: December 1972
"Remember those fabulous '60s?" That's the premise of a hilarious track on the National Lampoon comedy album. Bob Dylan selling a volume of protest songs á la Rosemary Clooney and Jambalaya. Funny idea, right? But guess how many people are digging out their checkbooks and calling their local DJ to find out where to send for this non-existent album. Well, fret no more nostalgia freaks. Elektra Records has filled the void. Nuggets comes closer to putting its finger on the pulsebeat of "those fabulous '60s" than anything by the Beatles, Stones or Bob Dylan.
The subtitle of Nuggets is "Original Artyfacts From the First Psychedelic Era: 1965-1968." The two-record set includes 27 groups and songs that have been locked up in our memory cells for years aching to be free once again. This album is the great emancipator. It documents the soundtrack to that portion of our lives when we were making the transition from straight to hip, innocent to experienced, AM to FM, whatever.
Sure, Dylan, the Beatles, et al, are monuments to the cultural revolution, but what about the forgotten landmarks that led us to those albums? Well, a lot of them have been gathered on this album. Some you'll remember and love. Some you'll wonder how you missed. But the point is that a record company has performed an admirable consumer service. Putting these gems into a single package required great energy, perseverance, research and inconvenience. This is not your run-of-the-mill oldies package.
What more can I say? Thrill again to those sounds of yesteryear? Nonsense. This is simply a collection of wonderful music by people who made a singularly impressive contribution to a historically significant period and then moved on to other things or just faded from view. I can hardly wait for Volume II.
- Peter Fornatale, Words & Music, 1/73.
That spontaneous combustion of high-tension testosterone, reckless guitar adventure and seven-inch-vinyl pith which was 1960s garage rock is also the last music I want to hear ringing in my head when I shuffle off this mortal dance floor. No other brand of electric teenage kicks from pop's last three decades has survived with such raw, radiant aplomb and has defied the tyranny of cheese-ball nostalgia. And no long-playing album documented the naive spunk and AM-radio genius of America's First Punk Rock Era better than Nuggets.
Compiled and annotated by critic and future Patti Smith Group guitarist Lenny Kaye, the original Nuggets -- a twenty-seven-track double LP released by Elektra in 1972 -- was the first great reissue anthology of the modern rock era and the first serious treatment of a mutant strain of 45 rpm fun all but buried by rock's rush to maturity in the late Sixties. Rhino's '98 update is a truly glorious beast: 118 songs on four CDs, including all of the '72 album, and a booklet fat with scholarship. But Nuggets, in any form, endures because it captures the hellbent-for-joy aesthetic that gripped teen-combo land after the British Invasion and celebrates rock's most basic democratic ideal: that anybody can cut a record, put it out and maybe even have a hit. And between '65 and '68, damn near every pimply kid within arm's reach of a Rickenbacker guitar or Vox organ gave it a try.
Born at the crowded mid-Sixties intersection of Beatlemania, the folk revival, surf music, Motown and psychedelia, garage rock wasn't a style of music; it was a nice bunch of styles, puréed into something else entirely. You can hear the obvious templates in the Remains' atomic jangler "Don't Look Back" (the Beatles), the Litter's raging-hormone grenade "Action Woman" (the Stones) and "Jack of Diamonds," by the Daily Flash (Dylan via the Byrds). But it's the way things got twisted, often torched beyond recognition, that makes these singles so astonishing: the shotgun marriage of the Beach Boys and the Who in "Going All the Way," by the Squires and "Stop -- Get a Ticket," by Clefs of Lavender Hill; the Stones-go-goth ferocity of the Lollipop Shoppe's "You Must Be a Witch"; the high-octane rewrites of Van Morrison's "Gloria" by the Five Americans ("I See the Light") and Richard and the Young Lions ("Open Up Your Door").
Nuggets also recalls a time when rock & roll, like politics, was truly local. There are big names here caught in fine, formative gear: Ted Nugent (the Amboy Dukes), Todd Rundgren (Nazz), all of Creedence Clearwater Revival (the Golliwogs). But many of the best entries are regional smashes and neighborhood hits: "At the River's Edge," by New Colony Six (Chicago); Kenny and the Kasuals' "Journey to Tyme" (Dallas); the Woolies' explosive reading of Bo Diddley's "Who Do You Love" (Detroit). Which may be why these records still sound so fresh, uncorrupted by endless recycling. There will be no VH-1 Behind the Music special on the Third Bardo, no burger commercials using "Strychnine," by the Sonics (neat idea, though). Nuggets, after all this time, is still loaded with secret treasures. It's time to spread the wealth.
- David Fricke, Rolling Stone, 10/15/98.
A plethora of lost gems compiled by Patti Smith Group guitarist Lenny Kaye, the amazing 1972 original was a must-have for anyone of the psychedelic-rock persuasion. Expanding on the influential producer's concept, Rhino's four-CD reissue is even better, with the likes of The Sonics and The Kingsmen revealing where today's garage bands got their ideas. These acts may not have been the best musicians around but the feeling and power put this collection over the top. * * * * *
- Zagat Survey Music Guide - 1,000 Top Albums of All Time, 2003.
This collection of Sixties garage rock, comiled by rock critic and soon-to-be Patti Smith gutiarist Lenny Kaye, became a touchstone for Seventies punks. The twenty-seven-track, two-LP set was a radical idea in 1972 -- while rock was getting bigger, Nuggets established a new canon out of forgotten AM-radio hits -- brutally simple singles, such as the Standells' "Dirty Water," the Shadows of Knight's "Oh Yeah!" and the Count Five's "Psychotic Reaction." Rhino expanded Nuggets into a sprawling four-CD box in 1998.
Nuggets: Original Artyfacts From the First Psychedelic Era, 1965-1968 was chosen as the 196th greatest album of all time by the editors of Rolling Stone magazine in Dec. 2003.
- Rolling Stone, 12/11/03.
Explorers by nature, musicians are often the first to recognize the works discarded by previous generations. Many times their discoveries are private epiphanies, shared with a small circle of friends and fellow obsessives. Not so with Nuggets,: In 1972, the record executive Jac Holzman and guitarist and music journalist Lenny Kaye (later an integral part of the Pattie Smith Group) assembled what they considered the best American garage rock of the middle and late 1960s. Their initial double album (and the much-expanded four-CD box issued in 1998) spotlighted chart-topping singles from one-hit wonders, minor regional bands that barely made the radio, and lots of devilishly inspired music in between.
The very first track, "I Had Too Much to Dream Last Night," by the Electric Prunes, is a good example of the curatorial bent: A Top 20 hit in 1966, it's a snarly Stones-influenced rocker, with a hook that should have made it a classic. Its loose pulsating energy sets the tone for what follows: over a hundred three-minute blasts of attitude and musical acumen. Heard one after another, these disciplined and sometimes deliriously unruly tunes are footnotes to the Official History, the stuff that scholars focused on Great Bands (the Beatles, Cream, the Rolling Stones, etc.) often miss. The Nuggets compilers aren't saying the Swingin' Medallions are as important as Cream, just that the South Carolina band made a few songs like "Double Shot (of My Baby's Love)" that deserve a bit of bandwidth in the big time capsule.
- Tom Moon, 1,000 Recordings To Hear Before You Die, 2008.
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