Rhino Records 74639
In a world of iPods, mp3 players, and multi-disc CD players on shuffle, variety has become the desire for a world that can barely pay attention for more than several minutes at a time. Combine that with the resurgence of garage rock and Little Stevens Underground Garage radio show devoted to such artists — past and present — and the timing couldnt be more right for the invaluable Children of Nuggets: Original Artyfacts from the Second Psychedelic Era, 1976-1995.
Like the 100 performances here, the box set becomes the natural descendent of the previous two box sets, Nuggets and Nuggets which chronicled the First Psychedelic Era from 1964-1969 that occurred in America and elsewhere. While many of the songs use that compressed 80s production, there are moments that match the rough and raw setting from those earlier recordings. Whats more important is that much of the material mines no-frills rock n roll gold, bearing down on you with sweaty, grinding riffs and rhythms set for dingy clubs on the shakiest parts of town that are considered the best places to party.
Few of the artists may be familiar to those who arent devotees to the garage and psychedelic genres. And out of the known (The Smithereens, The Bangles, The Church) pleasing surprises await for those who question their inclusion in this grouping. Besides, band names only really matter for the purposes of discovery, which is what happens on a frequent basis on each of the four discs. It begins with a spot-on nod towards the psychedelic pop from the First Psychedelic Era in the form of Vanishing Girl by The Dukes of Stratosphear (a.k.a. the members of XTC). Thats equaled on disc two by the perfect pop of The Las and There She Goes. From there, its a trip around the world and introductions to those who should not remain on the lips of only the geekiest of music geeks Laika & The Cosmonauts, The Chills, The Wondermints, The Dream Syndicate, Lipstick Killers, The Rain Parade, The Lime Spiders…
My only complaints, and its tiny when you consider the hefty weight of the undertaking, is that its a little low on the psychedelic content. Other than truly wonderful moments from The Soft Boys, The Dukes of Stratosphear, The Jigsaw Seen and Julian Cope, there arent that many more additional excursions on hand to counterpoint the garage goods. Of course, some of this can be attributed to my view of what is and isnt psychedelic music, which should have some degree of hallucinatory quality to it. Giving a change up to the proceedings could have been particularly effective on disc three when an early single by The Church is chosen over one of the bands more expansive moments.
What makes it problematic is that the next several numbers after it dont sound that different. Still, thats a tiny chunk out of the overall package. Speaking of which, besides the hours of goodness found on the CDs, the creators of the set put together a booklet with informative essays as well as background on each track. Its enough to allow you to match wits with that know-it-all music snob who still talks about the virtues of vinyl and sneers when you havent heard of any of the bands hes mentioned as the greatest at this moment in time.