Being in a garage band these days is a piece of piss. A few half ideas, an internet connection and some ripped recording software (there's a programme called Garageband, helpfully), and within days the whole world can feel the same undeniable energy you did during that first rehearsal; girls in deepest middle America can be singing lyrics by boys from Coventry minutes after pressing record. A romantic notion? I think not - there's four fellas from Sheffield who would disagree and. with any luck, there’s some group that everyone will care about even more around the corner. Maybe even by the time you read this.
In the early-'60s, with rock’n’roll's seismic impact at its height, there were more kids in garage bands than there have ever been, before or since. The so-called “British invasion" spearheaded by the Stones' sexually-charged reappropriation of the blues, was permeating the mainstream and exposing young America to music who, until then (despite it being on their doorstep - no MySpace, you see), were unaware of. It made them think, “Hey, forget getting a job, this is what it's all about! And all I gotta do is grow my hair, learn the guitar and I can get girls too! I can do this!"
Of course, just like today, a lot of them were shite. But even shite bands are capable of one moment of genius - maybe even more. And anyway, it's all about the collective desire; the attitude. That is what’s exciting. And that's what ‘Nuggets' - lovingly-compiled by future Patti Smith Group guitarist Lenny Kaye - documents. None of the 27 bands here are professional, many are barely even competent. Few were taken seriously by record companies scared by this new force, and thus their output was mainly restricted to local radio and seven-inch singles unlikely to ever be repressed, due to their creators' here-today-gone-tomorrow nature. Today, every musician’s most insignificant utterance is forever-archived in cyberspace, but these songs could easily have been lost in history forever. Thank fuck they weren’t, for this is rock'n’roll at its most naive, primal and therefore perfect. Yes, Mouse's ‘A Public Execution’ or Count Five's ’Psychotic Reaction' may be blatant rip-offs (the latter from ‘Like A Rolling Stone’, the former from ‘I'm A Man'); yes. The Knickerbockers' ‘Lies' may be karaoke Beatles and yes, the likes of The Electric Prunes' T Had Too Much To Dream Last Night' may have been written by professional songwriting teams. But these are records that perfectly capture the energy and frustration of youth, far more so than the ones that inspired them. ‘Nuggets’ is punk’s DIY spirit a good decade before it happened, and much more besides. Check the LSD-drenched perfection of The 13th Floor Elevators’ ’You're Gonna Miss Me', the sophisticated harmonies of 'My World Fell Down' by Sagittarius or The Amboy Dukes’ ear-piercing take on 'Baby Please Don't Go’: recordings with urgency and immediacy, but recordings that are ambitious - that push things forward. All these tracks are vital.
Forming a band? Don't do anything until you've absorbed 'Nuggets'. Everything - everything you need to know is here.
1. I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night) (Album Version) - By The Electric Prunes
2. Dirty Water (Single/LP Version) - By The Standells
3. Night Time - By The Strangeloves
4. Lies (Single/LP Version) - By The Knickerbockers
5. Respect - By The Vagrants
6. A Public Execution - By Mouse
7. No Time Like the Right Time - By The Blues Project
8. Oh Yeah (LP Version) - By The Shadows Of Knight
9. Pushin' Too Hard (Single/LP Version) - By The Seeds feat. Sky Saxon
10. Moulty - By The Barbarians
11. Don't Look Back - By Remains
12. An Invitation to Cry - By The Magicians
13. Liar, Liar (LP Version) - By The Castaways
14. You're Gonna Miss Me (Single Version) - By The Thirteenth Floor Elevators
1. Psychotic Reaction (Single Version) - By Count Five
2. Hey Joe (Single Version) - By The Leaves
3. Romeo & Juliet - By Michael & The Messengers
4. Sugar and Spice - By The Cryan' Shames
5. Baby Please Don't Go - By The Amboy Dukes
6. Tobacco Road - By Blues Magoos
7. Let's Talk About Girls - By The Chocolate Watchband
8. Sit Down I Think I Love You (Single Version) - By The Mojo Men
9. Run, Run, Run (LP Version) - By The Third Rail
10. My World Fell Down - By Sagittarius
11. Open My Eyes (Album Version) - By Nazz
12. Farmer John (Edit Version) - By The Premiers
13. It's A-Happening - By Magic Mushrooms