Nuggets: Original Artyfacts From The First Psychedelic Era [Box Set, 1998]
Discs 3 & 4
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Disc Three

Best Song: "So What!!" by the Lyrics. Or maybe "Journey To the Center of the NRA" by the Amboy Dukes. Eh, I can't make up my mind.
Most Forgettable: "Falling Sugar" by the Palace Sugar

Weakest disc, overall

The Hombres, "Let It Out (Let It All Hang Out)" -- Three Tennessee rednecks ape Dylanesque nonsense wordplay and lay down one of the funkiest laid-back grooves this side of the Mason-Dixon. It's a hoot'n'a'holler.

The Golliwogs, "Fight Fire" -- Pre-CCR, Tom (not John) Fogerty's singing, guitar work is tasty as expected, trying too hard to ape the Brits because they haven't found their signature sound yet. Not bad or anything, it just ain't Creedence, is all.

New Colony Six, "At the River's Edge" -- Good thumping beat; that's the most memorable thing about this so-so single. With all the great songs on these four discs, you kind of like don't remember much about the average ones.

The Daily Flash, "Jack of Diamonds" -- Wow, the feedback here is highly advanced for 1966. I wonder if the Who/Yardbirds/Hendrix copped a bit of this? I best Hendrix did, since he's from the Northwest, too.

Lyme & Cybelle, "Follow Me" -- Unmistakably Warren Zevon on counterpoint vocals with some hippy chick. A psychedelicized Sonny & Cher, for what that's worth.

The Choir, "It's Cold Outside" -- Pre-Raspberries, and as good as your average Raspberries single, for what that's worth.

The Rare Breed, "Beg, Borrow, and Steal" -- The rhythm rips off "Louie, Louie" a bit too obviously for comfort. Plus there's a Plimsouls song of the same title that's better, with a similar feel. Later mutated into Rare Earth, who had several hits in a sub-Detroit rock sub-Motown vein.

Sir Douglas Quintet, "She's About a Mover" -- Its rinky-dink keyboard sound and loping stride coined the musical subgenre known as Tex-Mex rock, which is entertaining in its highly limited rave-up way, like beef tamales. I really miss Mexican food. Do you know how hard it is to find decent Tex-Mex dishes in Asia? Freakin' impossiblo, amigo! Pundits claim mop-top inspiration, but what my ears detect is Ray Charles -- "hey hey, what I say".

The Music Explosion, "Little Bit O'Soul" -- Bubblegum Soul, the title of the great lost Monkees album.

The "E" Types, "Put The Clock Back On The Wall" -- Why this wasn't a bigger hit than the previous track is a mystery to me, since it has radio potential written all over it, with its stop-start arrangement and soulful shout of the title chorus.

The Palace Guard, "Falling Sugar" -- Two brothers want to hit it big as pop stars, but have no musical talent, so they move to California, hook up with some Hollywood hacks who do possess basic competence, dress up in snazzy 19th-century uniforms, finagle their way onto a variety show, and score an almost-hit.

The Gestures, "Run, Run, Run" -- The most frequently recycled title chorus of the '60s (undoubtedly because it trips off the tongue so obviously), this pleasant surf-style ditty from Minnesota came out in 1964, which probably means Pete Townshend ripped off it off for the Who song, that is if Pete were aware who these guys were.

The Rationals, "I Need You" -- Carbon copy adds nothing to the already perfect Kinks stomper.

The Humane Society, "Knock Knock" -- Now this is one of the reasons why this compilation is necessary: one of the darkest, most twisted B-sides ever recorded, it's nothing less than a trip inside the mind of a stalker. The lonely soul begs the object of his obsession to love him, hanging outside her house crying in the rain with a menacing undercurrent of possible violence if she doesn't let him in. He can't take it anymore, and this moody, draggy dirge jerks and shakes along as he goes berzerk, frothing at the mouth, pounding at her door, collapsing into a paroxysm. As creepy as those 15 answering machine messages from that weird quiet guy who always seems to turn up in the same places you do, as if he's following you or something...

The Groupies, "Primitive" -- Lower East Side scum-rock two decades before Pussy Galore and Sonic Youth, snobbishly bohemian NYC hipsters cooler than you because, hey, they're bohemians from the Lower East Side and you're not. Later covered by the snobbish NYC rockabilly-revivalist hipsters the Cramps.

The Sonics, "Psycho" -- The Great Northwest's finest proudly wear their Little Richard influence on their sleeve, only with heavy distortion and fuzz amps. Wow! Baby! You're drivin' me CRAZY!!!!!!!!

The Lyrics, "So What!!" -- This jawdroppingly vitriolic putdown of a spoiled rich girlfriend gains its power from its simple-minded fury and passion, as the singer rips to shreds lines sneering at bomb shelters & electric typewriters & other signs of the decadent rich life, while the band relentlessly pounds its hard harmonica-wailing punk-blues.

The Lollipop Shoppe, "You Must Be a Witch" -- No other single on this compilation so clearly betrays your average teenage '60s boy's fear and frustration with opposite sex, the underlying virgin blues tension beneath most of these tracks. Trembling with fear and lust, he hurls insults at the object of his thwarted desire, claiming that she "pushes people with your touch", sexual attraction and nervousness palpable in one powerful hard rock package.

The Balloon Farm, "A Question of Temperature" -- With its dot-dashes sounding like buzzing synth-loops, its cool leering Soft Cell-ish vocals coldly dissecting sexual attraction as a question of Fahrenheit, anticipates '80s electronica a good two decades early.

Mouse & the Traps, "Maid of Sugar-Maid of Spice" -- Despite a few obvious attempts at Zimmeresque turns of imagery, with its breakneck Texas gallop and amped guitars proves that the Mouse & Co. aren't mere Dylan imitators, but a fine band in their own right.

The Uniques, "You Ain't Tuff" -- One menacing, deep-fried growler of a north Louisiana put-down, with a measured, tough groove.

The Standells, "Sometimes Good Guys Don't Wear White" -- The Standells made themselves over as poor boys born in the rubble with this musically simple but lyrically smart working-class anthem, asking for respect for the underclass because they're just as good people as the white collar guys. "If you don't dig this long hair, get yourself a crew cut, baby!"

The Mojo Men, "She's My Baby" -- "Talks like my sister, walks like my brother, looks like my father, but cooks like my mother." Everyone's ideal female, yes?

Unrelated Segments, "Story of My Life" -- Message: fellas, if a girl wants your love, give it to her, but if she wants your money, tell her no! No! No! No!

The Third Bardo, "I'm Five Years Ahead of My Time" -- Arrogant, sure, as the title implies, but so were the Doors, and this is an excellent moody trip through the doors of perception.

We the People, "Mirror of Your Mind" -- Kind of muddy, but cool chorus.

The Shadows of the Knight, "Bad Little Woman" -- Oh no, not these guys again. Well, it ain't that bad, but it's not anything memorable, either.

The Music Machine, "Double Yellow Line" -- The followup to "Talk, Talk" couldn't possibly be as good, but this is a fine, snappy-rhythmed organ-drenched warning for drivers at night.

The Human Expression, "Optical Sound" -- Eerie little psychedelic ballad, the recurring wet slapping sound (an electric jug? synths?) and sitar-ish reverbing guitars giving it an unsettling flavor.

The Amboy Dukes, "Journey to the Center of the Mind" -- Rock's wildest right-wing RepubliKKKan hitches his guitar to the sissy-fied hippy "mind expanding" movement, charging through the slight power-flower anthem with his guitar fat and growling like a Harley.

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Disc Four

Best Song: "Louie Louie" by the Kingsmen. Like duh.
Most Insipid: "Stop-Get a Ticket" by the Clefs of Lavender Hill
Somewhat less pop, more dark rock for the final disc

The Chocolate Watchband, "Are You Gonna Be There (At the Love-In) -- The world's best Stones imitators are at it again, belying the hippy-dippy sentiments of the title by making the anthem sound like a punk threat.

The Leaves, "Too Many People" -- WILL EVERYBODY QUIT PUSHING ME AROUND!

The Brigands, "(Would I Still Be) Her Big Man" -- Guy's got this girl he's keen to impress, so he spends a lot of money on her. He doesn't want her to realize he's just an average Joe, so he pulls double shifts at the factory during the day so he can have enough money to take her out to fancy restaurants, hoping all the while she'll never catch on.

The Barbarians, "Are You a Boy Or Are You a Girl?" -- Pertinent and timely question for the dawn of the era of long-hairs.

Sam the Sham & the Pharoahs, "Wooly Bully" -- Like "Louie, Louie", its brilliance is that no matter what native language you speak, it is equally intelligible and stoopidly danceable to all. As we speak, there's probably some Zulu singing along with the "uno, dos, tres, cuatro, one, two, three!" intro with his native click-tongue sounds.

The Strangeloves, "I Want Candy" -- Made redundant by Bow Wow Wow's early '80s version, which turned an innocent piece of bubblegum fluff into a phallic metaphor by the simple expedient of having a girl sing it instead of a boy (if you've seen the Bow Wow Wow video, you'll know exactly what I'm talking about. Suck on that lollipop, baby).

The Kingsmen, "Louie Louie" -- "dflsdiSgurn erbbblawahh sweqw ma gwwwioon poipqa wawahmawuiuiui louie louie oh yeah now we gotta go yeah yeah yeah ueyiweo qwoooo lloosverwshiq bnierdfjord mamahoohoo wei-sum-ma wo hao gan ni ma gan-na-nininia gao summa x}W jungwanna gwanna mamahoohoo wanna gwanna sadkiflu jyyyiyyiyyiyyyi louie louie oh yeah now we gotta go yeah yeah yeah

The Knickerbockers, "One Track Mind" -- This ode to fat German "cultural tourists" of Thailand "night life" has a catchy chorus. But trust me, never, ever, ever buy a Knickerbockers album. Also, if you are a fat German tourist eager to "get in touch" with the "very friendly" Thai people, remember to always wear "protection", "nudge nudge wink wink".

Wailers, "Out Of Our Tree" -- Seminators of the Seattle sound way back in the 1958, this catches these proto-Mudhoneys near the end of the line, not as good as the Sonics, but still mega-ok.

Harbinger Complex, "I Think I'm Down" -- Fine loping post-Brit, pre-country rock ballad of woe.

The Dovers, "What Am I Going To Do" -- A shame this band never released any other singles, or that little is even known of their personnel, for this faux-Brit melancholy wonder is as gemlike as wistful mid-'60s singles get.

The Charlatans, "Codine" -- Pre-sagers of the early '70s West Coast country rock sound, dressed up like 19th century saloon dandies a good two years before the Band, for what that's worth.

The Mystery Trend, "Johnny Was a Good Boy" -- He was a nice quiet type, kept to himself mostly....who would have suspected such a mousy little man could have committed such a horrible crime....

Clefs of Lavender Hill, "Stop-Get a Ticket" -- Hey, chipper is fine every now and then in pop songs, but this is ridiculous.

The Monks, "Complication" -- The Monks were GIs stationed in Germany who stayed and kept their band there after their term of duty was up, subsequently becoming big stars in the Federal Republic. Their harsh, brutal sound with the absurd barking lyrics sounding like a parody of goosestepping German taste proved very popular among the native audiences -- "People die! People kill! People go to their deaths for you!" I'm happy I'm not German.

The Sonics, "The Witch" -- Crucial point is when the vocal's slurred so that the inevitable rhyme, "she's an evil ________" can easily be mistaken by radio censors for "ditch" (which of course makes no sense, but it didn't cause too many sleepless nights for censors since it wasn't a big hit outside of the Northwest).

The Electric Prunes, "Get Me To the World On Time" -- The followup to "I Had Too Much To Dream Last Night" couldn't possibly match the brilliance of their first single, but it's a fine, throbbing electric rocker.

The Other Half, "Mr. Pharmacist" -- Blatantly pro-drugs anthem later covered by the Fall, whose style this crude, grubby stomp fits perfectly.

Richard & the Young Lions, "Open Up Your Door" -- A group of studio hacks muck around a little and amazingly come up with a dead-on facsimile of a raw teenage garage band stumbled onto a decent song.

Paul Revere & the Raiders, "Just Like Me" -- Tight and crunchy and breathy, one of the Raiders' crowning achievements.

We the People, "You Burn Me Up and Down" -- After all this time, a teenage garage boy finally gets laid! "You satisfier!"

The Lemon Drops, "I Live In the Springtime" -- Typically swirling twee-pop-psych, pretty and repetitive.

Fenwyck, "Mindrocker" -- With its Left Banke reference, flanged guitar solo, & smooth pop chorus, an excellent lava-lamp single.

The Rumors, "Hold Me Now" -- If it's good enough for a McDonald's commercial, it should be good enough for you, and it's not bubblegum, interestingly enough, just a fine midtempo pop/rock single.

The Underdogs, "Love's Gone Bad" -- Well, doesn't it always? At least in my experience. Bummer, dude.

The Standells, "Why Pick On Me" -- Since it's 1967 and not 1966, the Standells slip in a slight Eastern influence to keep up with current trends. Still, not bad.

The Zakary Thaks, "Bad Girl" -- Barely out of junior-high, this proto-Squirrel Bait from a Rio Grande border town hop up at a furious pace some fetching proto-thrash.

Gonn, "Blackout of Gretely" -- According to the liner notes, flirted with Nazi imagery a whole decade before Siouxsie & the Banshees. Doesn't make them any more than a generic Iowa garage band, though. Fairly good overamped bloozy vamp in a sub-Yardbirds vein, just like "Psychotic Reaction" but not quite as good.

The Bees, "Voices Green and Purple" -- Where did they find this?! A true find, this very obscure single (personnel mostly unknown) represents the true underground, unhinged, paranoid, deranged, under 2 minutes, in a completely different universe than what was going on around at the time -- if you want a genuine freak-out, here it is.

Davie Allen & the Arrows, "Blues Theme" -- The thudding roar of a Harley leads us out as this cool surf instrumental chugs along. A nice way to end anticlimactically.

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Now for a rating, which should be obvious: ***** freakin' stars. It took me a year to absorb all of these songs, so you'll have plenty of material to occupy yourself with for a long, long time -- there's so much here, and it's all by different bands, so unlike most box sets you won't get sick of it easily. A little pricey, like all box sets, but worth every penny. If you buy only one box set in your entire life, buy this! And now! Your knowledge of classic rock is simply incomplete without at least a cursory listen to about 1/4 of the classics contained herein. My only complaints so far are: 1) Where's "96 Tears" by ? and the Mysterians?; and 2) when's the followup box set? There's surely enough great material from '60s garage singles to ensure at least 10 satisfying discs of similar quality. Heck, the Pebbles series has reached passed 100 already! Though I doubt I'd shell out for that many discs, given my limited time and funds -- what its means, however, is that there are plenty of more goodies hidden from the general public view just waiting for me, and you, to discover.

Want to see that review of Discs 1 & 2 again?

You gotta get me to the world on time


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