“Nuggets” is a compilation of songs, some from the ‘underground’ and some that were top 40 hits, that collectively took on a representation of specific rock and roll characteristics that seemed to have been abandoned as the ‘70s set in.
As Lenny Kaye writes in the original liner notes, these songs were compiled in an attempt to signify a movement “only noticeable in retrospect by the vast series of innovations it would eventually spawn.” In the interim since the songs’ original release dates (1965-1968, according to the sub-title) and the album’s creation, the 45 RPM single yielded to albums, AM yielded to FM, and culturally speaking, innocence yielded to experience. In that period of time, our culture underwent an unprecedented degree of change, with music as a primary driving force. The point of “Nuggets” was to roll back just a few short years to reflect on that change, and to celebrate the spirit that drove it.
It is worth noting that every one of the twenty-six tracks appearing on “Nuggets” are credited to a group, rather than an individual. In the ‘60s, the very notion of a self-contained group harbored the contrary notions of rebellion and camaraderie. For the most part, these were amateur kids rehearsing in their parents’ garage or basement, following an ideal inspired by The Beatles or The Rolling Stones. That inspiration ignored (and when successful, thwarted) the previously enforced system that determined who, what, where, why and how music should be created. The industry consisted of songwriters, studio musicians, A&R men, and production teams. The harsh reality is that almost none of the artists on “Nuggets” would have seen the inside of a recording studio had it not been for a subtle yet fundamental shift of power. The Monkees capitalized on the fantasies of American kids everywhere, about working and living with your best friends while accruing respect for your talents as a musician. Of course, it was a dream based on falsehoods, but that didn’t stop an entire generation from running wild with creative ideas that most major labels would have dismissed as ‘uncommercial’. Some called it ‘garage rock’, soon replaced with the moniker ‘punk rock’, an earlier but appropriate designation for what was to follow in its wake.
One absolutely crazy fact about ‘Nuggets’ is its chronological proximity to the album’s contents. It was released a scant four to eight years after the target dates of its content. It re-presented songs that were less than a decade old, but it felt more like reinvention rather than regurgitation. Interpreting the songs from the vantage point of the early ‘70s, they took on a collective meaning that was not immediately apparent in their own time. Each of these tracks were made by one-hit wonders (or in some cases, no-hit wonders) who might otherwise have been neglected and then forgotten. Much like the bandmembers who created them, the songs themselves were liberated by being ‘grouped’ together. The group aesthetic once again served as inspiration to witness an underground movement that eluded us even while it happened.
Featured tracks are:
I Had Too Much to Dream – The Electric Prunes
Dirty Water - The Standells
Night Tome – The Strangeloves
Lies – The Knickerbockers
Respect – The Vagrants
A Public Execution – Mouse
No Time Like the Right Time – The Blues Project
Oh Yeah - The Shadows of Knight
Pushin’ Too Hard – The Seeds
Moulty – The Barbarians
Don’t Look Back – The Remains
Invitation to Cry – The Magicians
Liar Liar – The Castaways
You’re Gonna Miss Me – The 13th Floor Elevators
June 1972 – Billboard: Did Not Chart
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