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Miscellaneous - Nuggets

  by Geraint Jones

published: 21 / 7 / 2006

Miscellaneous - Nuggets
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Conceived and compiled by Elektra Records founder Jac Holzman together with Patti Smith guitarist Lenny Kaye in 1972, 'Nuggets' is the definitive compilation of 60s rock and pop underground music. Now re-released, Geraint Jones assesses it abiding impact

Originally released as a double LP in 1972, this hugely influential and still essential 27 song set was conceived and compiled by Elektra Records founder Jac Holzman together with Lenny Kaye, the music historian and guitarist, who went on to join the Patti Smith Group soon afterwards. All of the songs featured here had previously been released as 7” singles, and while some of them had enjoyed a modicum of success in the US, most had slipped by relatively unnoticed, however unjustifiably. Now regarded by many, and with just cause, as an enormous influence on the punk scene that would follow on both sides of the Atlantic barely a few years after its release as well as an inspiration to the multitude of independent labels that followed in its wake, ‘Nuggets’ managed to distil the essence, vitality and diversity of the 60s rock and pop underground like nothing else beforehand, providing a collective template that hordes of disciples would follow for decades afterwards, with many continuing to do so whether they’re directly aware of it or not! It’s hard to believe , but outside of the 1998 expanded ‘Nuggets’ 4CD box set, of which the original set comprised disc one, this is the very first time that the original album has been reissued as a single CD with exactly the same running order as the original 1972 double LP. Sadly my basic promo copy lacked the deluxe facsimile packaging or more pertinently Lenny Kaye’s highly regarded original sleeve notes, but don’t fear the commercially released copy definitely features all the bells and whistles! Ultimately though it’s the music that counts however good or bad the packaging might be (and Rhino always do a sterling job on that front), so for anyone even remotely interested in the history of rock and pop music, ‘Nuggets’ is a genuinely fascinating, often thrilling aural document that’s nothing less than essential. While some of it is discernibly of its time, a great deal has aged incredibly well, and is a reminder of rock’s relative infancy as an art form as well as a succinct reminder of just how timeless some of the genre's earliest adventurers still sound and probably will do another 40 years hence – just check out ‘You’re Gonna Miss Me’ by the Roky Erickson-fronted 13th Floor Elevators or ‘Open Your Eyes’ by the Nazz, written by their guitarist Todd Rundgren, for evidence of that. A more appropriate title for the album would be almost impossible to imagine as it’s literally one nugget after another. Whether it’s a track I was already familiar with such as the Electric Prunes’ opener ‘I Had Too Much To Dream Last Night’ – and titles don’t come more psychedelic sounding than that with or without chemical inspiration, via the Standells’ ‘Dirty Water’, through the startling Beatles and Dylan pastiches of Mouse and The Traps’ ‘A Public Execution’ and The Knickerbockers’ ‘Lies’ respectively or brand new finds to me like the Vagrants’ barnstorming version of Otis Redding’s ‘Respect’ or the truly bizarre ‘Moulty’ by the Barbarians, you owe it to yourself and to the toil and hours spent by some of America’s most inspired youth in their parent’s garages to little thanks or remuneration at the time, to invest in this miniaturised replication of one of the most influential compilations of all time. For purists there’s also a vinyl reissue of the original double LP set so you can also buy it as originally intended. I suspect many will be so smitten by what ‘Nuggets’ has to offer that the expanded 118 song, 4CD box set may well be finding its way on to more than a few wish lists very soon afterwards.

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