“Turn on, tune in, and drop out”: Timothy Leary’s famous slogan may serve as a good motto to keep in mind while listening to this box of precious artyfacts from the first psychedelic era. So turn on the volume, tune in to the music coming out of your headphones or speakers, and drop-out for a while from the square-world’s grayness – because with Nuggets we are taken on a trip through the sounds of the 1960s in all their exuberance. Compiled by Lenny Kaye, music critic and guitar player in Patti Smith’s Group, this 1972 compilation does an excellent job offering a condensed experience of some the greatest underground rock songs recorded between 1965 and 1968. Listening to these 4 CDs is similar to embarking on a train down memory lane, to a journey through the 1960s musical landscape, especially all that happened below the surface, in the underground currents of an age that was being massively inspired and shaped by the music of The Beatles, The Stones, Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, The Who, The Kinks, Cream, Janis Joplin, Jefferson Airplane, Grateful Dead, The Doors – and many others.
Kaye’s collection offers an historical document of some of the best music being made by then. Most of these bands didn’t quite make it to the top, or ended up being just one-hit-wonders. But, in the efervescent years leading up to Woodstock and the Summer of Love, when hippies and LSD became widespread cultural phenomena, many of these groups were pioneering fields later to be fully explored by future artists: The Sonics and The 13th Floor Elevators, for example, were somewhat proto-punk and also precursors of what will emerge decades later, the garage rock à la The Cramps and Jon Spencer Blues Explosion. Many bands in the mid-sixties are already doing what the Stooges or the MC5 will soon start attempting: kicking out the jams with raw power. But here there’s also a lot of pop-inclined and melody-ridden groups trying to sound like The Beach Boys; trippy and hippy folk-rock sounding like electrified-Dylan; and some examples of noisy experimentalism with no particular regard for commercial interests. Influential and cult figures – like Love or Captain Beefheart – contribute with great tracks to this amazing collection. I’ve been listening to it for years and keep coming back to this fountain of the 1960s exuberant lyricism and enthusiastic rock’n’rolling.
Enjoy the music! You can listen to three quarters of the whole collection in the videos below, or download HERE the whole bunch (torrent at Pirate Bay).