I wish every man could have as great of a Father’s Day as I had yesterday. Simply put, it’s always great when three generations of my family are able to gather. Unfortunately, Son #2 and his new bride were unable to attend, but Son #1 and his very pregnant wife were there in addition to my father and stepmother. And, every year, I try to tell the kids not to spend their money on a present, yet they always do. I knew we were going to eat at a newer restaurant in a nearby town AND visit a record store in the area, so I was pretty pumped, although my pain level was nearly high enough for me to stay home. Yet, I persisted nonetheless.
Right before we were served our excellent meals, we all gave presents to my dad. After his fun, I got to open my present from my older couple, which of course looked like a record. However, when I opened it, I discovered TWO albums! The first one was one of my all-time favorites, finally released on vinyl toward the end of 2017, Automatic for the People, the 1992 album from one of my favorite bands, R.E.M. Yet, I felt another album underneath R.E.M. So, I slide Automatic out of the way, to find a used album that was something of an Excalibur-type of album for me, you know, something for which I had been searching for years, and, finally, it was in my hands. No, it is not a big collectible album to most music listeners; however, there are those of us that love this one. The album was one of the first non-K-tel compilation albums with songs by different artists. This album was Nuggets: Artyfacts from the First Psychedelic Era, 1965-1968.
For reasons unknown, former rock critic and about to become guitarist for the Patti Smith Group, Lenny Kaye had compiled his favorite songs by what was known in the Sixties as Garage Rock, many of which ended up being one hit wonders. So, Kaye had compiled 20 of his favorite types of these songs and convinced Elektra Records to release this album in the Fall of 1972. Honestly, this album did not sell that many copies. However, using a well-worn rock music cliche, it was said that although the record did not sell many copies, but the people who did buy it all started their own bands who played many of these songs or created their own music in a similar style and sound. As a matter of fact, the liner notes for this album, written by Kaye, of course, were the first to associate the word “punk” with these artists’ sounds. So, when new bands began to pop up around New York City, playing some of these very songs in their sets, punk rock was born.
After some time, the album went out of print, so Sire Records picked up the rights to the music on the album, cleaned up the looks of the album with new album artwork (though I prefer the original) and re-released the set in 1976, just as punk rock and the famous club were the genre was birthed, CBGB’s. This release influenced more would-be artists to jump into the fray, bringing forth more musical sounds, such as post-punk, new wave, power pop, and so on. In other words, this double-album compilation literally changed the course of rock history, allowing younger would-be musicians to discover this musical heritage, thus changing the course of rock music.
But, all great ideas can NEVER be just left alone. Instead, some smart ass always believes they can improve things. In this case, the great innovative folks at Rhino Records got a hold of the rights to this Nuggets compilation and brilliantly and painstakingly expanded the set to meet the needs of the CD Age, creating the four-CD set of this proto-punk music. Of course, during this time period, Rhino was THE compilation label, so when this new box set was released, it influenced a whole new generation of alternative rockers.
Fortunately for music lovers around the world, Rhino never let this Nugget brand name die. Au contraire, Rhino released FOUR more sets of music under the titles Nuggets II – Artyfacts from the British Empire and Beyond, 1964-1969, Children of Nuggets – Original Artyfacts from the Second Psychedelic Era, 1976-1996, Love Is the Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets, 1965-1970 and Where the Action Is! Los Angeles Nuggets, 1965-1968. Then, over the intervening years, one can find several compilations with the Nuggets brand name associated with more songs from the aforementioned time period, though Rhino did release two more collections as Record Store Day-only releases. In 2016, Hallucination – Psychedelic Pop Nuggets was released in 2016 as a double vinyl album set after originally released in 2004 on CD. While the following year, another 2004 CD compilation was released on vinyl for Record Store Day entitled Come to the Sunshine: Soft Pop Nuggets. Who knows how long this will continue, but I believe that we are closing in on the dreaded saturation point. Still, I find this whole sub-set collection remains quite enjoyable as we move closer to the 50th Anniversary of the original set’s release.
And, who would have ever guessed how influential this one compilation would become over the years. However, the music celebrated in these multiple collections has been loved by those musicians who were searching for some alternative to the blues-based jam music, sensitive singer-songwriters and Southern Rock Bands. And, these rebels did so by going back to a time period where playing a simple three minute song that got played in the aftermath of The Beatles and the rest of the British Invasion. So, these outcasts embraced the original double vinyl album of Nuggets and subsequently changed the course of rock history. You can read books and articles where artists such as Ramones, Sex Pistols, The Clash, The Jam, Blondie, Talking Heads, Johnny Thunders, and the rest of the punks associated with the original movement in the mid-Seventies.
And, thanks to these Nuggets albums, CDs and box sets, such songs as “I Had Too Much to Dream (Last Night)” by The Electric Prunes, “Lies” by The Knickerbockers, “Psychotic Reaction” by Count Five, “Open My Eyes” by Nazz, “Seven and Seven Is” by Love. All of these collections are must-haves for any connoisseur of great rock music. Not to mention, what a great history lesson each disc will give the listener. I suggest that you begin with the single CD or double vinyl version of the original collection, then work your way first through the box sets, leaving the Children of Nuggets set for last, since that’s the chronology of the whole collection.
To be perfectly honest, no matter how often I listen to these collections, I continue to discover more great material I have overlooked on previous listenings. In other words, these are gifts that keep on giving. It don’t get any better than that!