Review #405: Nuggets: Original Artyfacts from the First Psychedelic Era, Various Artists

Karla Clifton
3 min readJun 17, 2023

#405: Nuggets: Original Artyfacts from the First Psychedelic Era, Various Artists

When I saw this one on the list, I was intrigued by the inclusion of a compilation album. Why would a compilation album matter enough to be included on a list of the Greatest Albums of All Time?

As it turns out, it was one of the first compilation albums that achieved significant success, a collection of Sixties garage rock songs that achieved legendary status among Seventies punks. In fact, the liner notes for this record is one of the first places the term “punk rock” was ever used. What’s more, it was compiled by Lenny Kaye, who later rose to prominence as Patti Smith’s guitarist.

Kaye later said that his intent was to highlight local music scenes, saying they each had “their own personality.” I’ve experienced local music scenes in three cities now and I can say that’s absolutely true.

There’s a lot to say about all of these bands, but rather than doing a 30,000 word deep dive into each one (and trust me, part of me wants to) I’m going to divide them up by region, and let you all draw your own conclusions about these 27 fascinating bands. We’ll go across the country, starting at the west coast — a mental road trip.

California Bands:

“I Had Too Much to Dream (Last Night),” The Electric Prunes

“Pushin’ Too Hard,” The Seeds

“Let’s Talk About Girls,” The Chocolate Watchband

“Farmer John,” The Premiers

“Hey Joe,” The Leaves (Yes, the same one Jimi Hendrix covers.)

“Sit Down, I Think I Love You,” The Mojo Men

“My World Fell Down,” Sagittarius

“Dirty Water,” The Standells (From LA, but the song is about Boston.)

Highlight: “Psychotic Reaction” by the Count Five. The Count Five were broken up before this compilation was even released, but they had a bizarre afterlife. Lester Bangs (aka Philip Seymour Hoffman’s character in Almost Famous) wrote an essay about them titled “Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung.” And Bangs decided to straight up make up a new discography for them, crediting them with the release of records like Cartesian Jetstream and Snowflakes Falling On the International Dateline and, yes, Carburetor Dung. But as puts it, “none of these albums actually existed, except in Bangs’ own imagination.” Just … what an insane fact.

Texas Bands:

“A Public Execution,” Mouse and the Traps (My boyfriend thought this was Bob Dylan.)

“You’re Gonna Miss Me,” The 13th Floor Elevators

Minnesota Bands:

“Liar, Liar,” The Castaways

“Romeo & Juliet,” Michael and the Messengers

Illinois Bands:

“Oh Yeah,” The Shadows of Knight

“Sugar and Spice,” The Cryan’ Shames

Highlight: “Baby Please Don’t Go” by the Amboy Dukes. Ted Nugent’s original band! (He’s from Illinois? I thought he sprang from the depths of hell.)

Pennsylvania Bands:

“It’s-a-Happening,” The Magic Mushrooms

Highlights: “Open My Eyes” by Nazz. Eagle-eyed Karla Clifheads will remember Nazz as Todd Rundgren’s first band!

New Jersey Bands:

“Lies,” The Knickerbockers (My boyfriend thought this was the Beatles.)

New York Bands:

(But really New York City bands.)

“Night Time,” The Strangeloves

“No Time Like the Right Time,” The Blues Project

“An Invitation to Cry,” The Magicians

“Tobacco Road,” The Blues Magoos

“Run, Run, Run,” The Third Rail

Highlight: “Respect” by the Vagrants, just because this is the third time we’ve seen this song.

Massachusetts Bands:

“Don’t Look Back,” The Remains

Highlight: “Moulty” by the Barbarians. It’s about how the drummer lost his hand. The DRUMMER. This is the Sixties iteration of Def Leppard.

Lenny Kaye has said that Nuggets is about “keep[ing] records alive … And maybe who knows who’s going to listen to one and be inspired … to become that person that they admire and then become themselves.” I don’t know why that quote hit me like a huge rock, but it did. We listen to music to become ourselves.

Fun Fact: This album was so popular that they released it again in 1998, but with 70 extra songs. Believe it or not, I don’t want to be reviewing these albums for the rest of my life, so I’m not touching that one.

Review #404: Rapture, Anita Baker

Review #406: 69 Love Songs, The Magnetic Fields