Nuggets Box Set

Greatly Appreciated


Nuggets: Original Artyfacts from the First Psychedelic Era  is a groundbreaking compilation album of American garage rock singles released in the mid-to-late 1960’s.  It was assembled by Jac Holzman, founder of Elektra Records, and Lenny Kaye, later lead guitarist for the Patti Smith Group.  In 1998, Rhino brought the original LP to CD, reproducing the original song sequence and liner notes.  However, rather than releasing a single-disc release of the original LP, Rhino put the original disc in a box set with three other discs, an extra 91 songs in total that were not on the original.  (More from Wikipedia)
In other words, someone has now written a Wikipedia article on every band on the Nuggets double-album set except one:  The Magicians.  (Actually there are now Wikipedia articles on the great majority of the bands on the entire four-CD Nuggets Box Set). 
(December 2011)
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But Nuggets turned out to be just the beginning.  Many other Nuggets compilation albums would follow that concentrated on the better-known American bands of the garage rock era
Though punk rock had already begun to take off, many critics argue that Pebbles, even more than Nuggets helped launch the raw sounds that kept the movement going into the 1980’s and beyond.  Besides launching a 4-disk Nuggets Box Set covering the original double-LP and other songs of that period, a second Nuggets box set covering lesser known British and continental European music was also released, called Nuggets II: Original Artyfacts from the British Empire and Beyond, 1964–1969; many of these songs originally appeared on the Pebbles albums.  There was also a third box set – Children of Nuggets: Original Artyfacts from the Second Psychedelic Era – 1976-1995 – highlighting the bands (mostly from the 1980’s) that were inspired by the Nuggets and Pebbles music to develop their own sounds.  Perhaps, in response to the Garage Rock Revivalthere might be a Grandchildren of Nuggets box set in the future. 
(January 2013)
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Yet another song on Buffy Sainte-Marie’s album It’s My Way!, “Cod’ine” – adapted from codeine, a compound often found in cough syrup, but pronounced “co-dyne” – is one of the first songs to deal with the dangers of drug use.  


On the box set Nuggets: Original Artyfacts from the First Psychedelic Era is another version of “Cod’ine” by a psychedelic rock band called the Charlatans; they are considered by many critics to be one of the earliest bands to play in what was later called the San Francisco Sound.  Formed in the summer of 1964, the band auditioned for Autumn Records in September 1965 and was later signed by Kama Sutra Records in early 1966.  The Charlatans wanted to release “Cod’ine” as their first single, but Kama Sutra officials vetoed the idea because of its drug connotations, even though the song did not at all promote drug use.  The Charlatans’ version of “Cod’ine” was later used in the soundtrack of the 1999 Hilary Swank film, Boys Don’t Cry.   


The Charlatans’ second drummer was Dan Hicks, who later formed the band Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks.  In the late 1970’sCharlatans founding member Mike Wilhelm joined the Flamin’ Groovies as their lead guitarist for 6 years. 


(August 2013)

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Anyway, the music is the hard part when doing psychedelic rock; for many would-be psychedelic rock bands, just about any lyrics will do, and the stranger the better.  I was planning to come up with some examples of those lyrics, but they were a little scarce on the Internet.  However, this excerpt from the Allmusic review by Todd Kristel of the Pebbles, Volume 3 LP actually does a better job of describing the songs than the lyrics themselves would: 


“This compilation features Higher Elevation’s ‘The Diamond Mine’, a showcase for the nonsense rambling of disc jockey Dave DiamondTeddy & the Patches’ ‘Suzy Creamcheese’, which manages to rip off both Frank Zappa and ‘Louie Louie; Crystal Chandlier’s ‘Suicidal Flowers’, which sounds like the Doors drenched in fuzz guitar; William Penn Fyve’s ‘Swami’, which is such a self-conscious attempt to evoke 1967 that it’s hard to believe it was actually released that year; Jefferson Handkerchief’s ‘I’m Allergic to Flowers’, which was presumably intended as a novelty songCalico Wall’s ‘Flight Reaction’, a fascinating acid-damaged glimpse into the mind of a passenger who’s sitting in an airplane before takeoff and worrying about a possible crash; the Hogs’ (allegedly the Chocolate Watchband under a different name) ‘Loose Lip Sync Ship’, which consists of an instrumental passage that mutates into Zappa-influenced weirdness; the Driving Stupid’s ‘The Reality of (Air) Fried Borsk’ and ‘Horror Asparagus Stories’, which feature precisely the kind of grounded lyrics that you’d expect; the Third Bardo’s ‘Five Years Ahead of My Time’, a genuinely good number even though it doesn’t sound five minutes ahead of its time; [and] the Bees’ ‘Voices Green and Purple’, which made the Nuggets Box Set along with the Third Bardo song . . . ”  

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Two CD’s featuring the Human Expression and also solo recordings by Jim Quarles have been released by Cicadelic RecordsLove at Psychedelic Velocity (1994) and The Human Expression & Other Psychedelic Groups (2000). The first CD is named after their best known song, Love at Psychedelic Velocity (actually more of a garage rock song that has remarkable changes in tempo), which is included on the Pebbles, Volume 10 LP and also the first Nuggets Box Set.  Optical Sound – whose title likely refers to synesthesia, when the human senses are sometimes scrambled during an LSD trip – actually appears on more than twice as many compilation albums.  


(July 2015)


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The Nuggets album collected the garage rock and psychedelic rock hits and would-be hits from the mid-1960’s from bands like the Electric Prunes, Blues Magoos, the Standells, the Seeds, etc. There are some omissions, but Nuggets is as good an overview of this scene as there is. “96 Tears” by ? and the Mysterians, is the missing song that always comes to mind for me (that song didn’t even make the Nuggets Box Set, though it was on the list for the Nuggets, Volume 2 album that was programmed but never released). Interestingly, Wikipedia notes: “One of the earliest written uses of the ‘punk’ term was by critic Dave Marsh who used it in 1970 to describe the group Question Mark and the Mysterians, who had scored a major hit with their song ‘96 Tears’ in 1966.” Here is what I have to say about this album: .
(December 2016)
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The five songs by the Choir on the EP called The Choir, however, did not include their September 1966 release “It’s Cold Outside”, which was picked up by Roulette Records in May 1967, hitting #1 on all three Top 40 radio stations in Cleveland and peaking at #68 on the Billboard charts.  It’s Cold Outside is one of my very favorite 1960’s garage rock songs, and this song has fans across the country and around the world.  It’s Cold Outside gained more attention when it was included on the Pebbles, Volume 2 LP and later in the first Nuggets Box Set
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Sky Saxon is the former frontman for the Seeds, best known for their hit song “Pushin’ Too Hard”; while not among the biggest garage rock hit songs, peaking only at #36 on the Billboard Hot 100, it is likely one of the best known.  Pushin’ Too Hard was included on the Nuggets compilation album and the Nuggets Box Set, and it is featured in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame’s exhibit showcasing “The 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll”.
(December 2017)
Last edited: April 7, 2021