Nuggets: Original Artyfacts From the First Psychedelic Era

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Nuggets: Original Artyfacts From the First Psychedelic Era is a compilation album of garage rock from the mid- to late 1960s, assembled by Jac Holzman, founder of Elektra Records. Assisting him was Lenny Kaye, who later became the guitarist for the Patti Smith Group. Together, the two men assembled a 2-LP set of American garage rock cuts. The album was originally released by Elektra Records in 1972, and reissued, with a new cover design, in 1976 by Sire Records. The liner notes, penned by Lenny Kaye, gave a brief biography of each band.

The stripped-down music of groups like the 13th Floor Elevators, the Electric Prunes, the Blues Magoos and the Chocolate Watchband resonated with budding musicians of the 1970s, who were tired of slick, corporate rock. Many credit the influence of these groups on the punk movement that was to soon explode in both the UK and the US. Jon Savage, in his history of the UK punk movement England's Dreaming, cites Nuggets as a major influence, and includes it in his essential punk discography, alongside Iggy and The Stooges' "Raw Power".

Nuggets gained credence with rock music critics and was on the Rolling Stone "Top 200 Albums" list. Infamously, unlike the other 199 albums, Nuggets took quite a while to appear on CD. Many labels marketed some of the songs on the original LP in compilation discs like Rhino Records' Nuggets series and the Pebbles series, but none of them ever compiled the original LP, with the exact same songs in the original sequence.

It wasn't until 1998 that Rhino brought the original LP to CD, keeping the original song sequence and liner notes intact. 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 LP. Like the original LP, each disc featured obscure garage rock. Some groups in the boxset, like Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs and the Strawberry Alarm Clock had made an impact with one or two hits, before fading away, but most of the bands were unknown to a casual radio listener.

The box set was very successful, successful enough that in 2001, Rhino released another four-disc box set, caled Nuggets, Vol. 2: Original Artyfacts From the British Empire & Beyond. While the original Nuggets LP and the first box set concentrated on the American garage rock scene, the second Nuggets box shifted its focus to the rest of the world, collecting rare cuts from the United Kingdom (such as the Pretty Things and the Small Faces), Japan (The Mops), Iceland (Thor's Hammer) and Brazil (Os Mutantes).

Many other compilation albums took their cue from Nuggets, including "Pebbles" (mentioned above), "Rubble" - 20 volumes of mainly UK psychedelia released in the 1980s - and the "Back From the Grave" series. In retrospect, it can be seen that this record eventually spawned an entire cottage industry of small record labels dedicated to unearthing and releasing obscure but worthy rock music from the 1960's. The advent of the compact disc only made archiving and distributing such forgotten recordings easier than before. New compilations of this type are still being released today, with dedicated archivists combing the corners of the world to bring the latest found treasures to a small but committed group of collectors.


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