New Series: Garage for Beginners.

Before I get on with the article in question, I’d like to take this time to help out some good friends of mine over at VIC Radio. VIC radio is the Internet-based Radio Station over at Ithaca College, and it’s where I got my start toward being a DJ. They helped me put together “Off the Deep End,” and fostered a love of music for me (even if it wasn’t something I was necessarily interested with to begin with) that makes me believe again in the communitarian power of music. It brings everyone together, despite individual tastes, because it all crosses over at some point. And as they have helped me, and as much as I tried to help them, they need your help as well.

Every year, they hold the 50 Hour Marathon, wherein two of their DJs stay up on the air for 50 hours straight. Last year, I was a member of the Street Team — a DJ who, while allowed to sleep, made the attempt to keep the other DJs awake. And they do this daring stunt for the sake of raising money for a local charity. This year, the benefactor of the marathon is the Loaves and Fishes organization, a soup-kitchen that helps feed the destitute in the upstate New York area. I highly encourage you to visit their website, where you can tune in to the live feed, find out about everything you wanted to know about their DJs, the realm of Indie Pop music (a lot of which, constitutes as modern garage rock!) and make donations. Please help them out, it’s all for a very worthy cause. Likewise, don’t be afraid to help just spread the word about VIC Radio, which it bares mentioning, is at the best school to learn how to excel at radio broadcasting. I in turn will be helping them out by donating, and I encourage everyone to do so as well.

Now then:

A new feature I’ve been meaning to put in place (and include in the multi-page update I’ve been planning) is strictly for the beginners. I, by no stretch of the imagination, do not claim to be an expert on what I’m talking about. However, I would like to make music collecting, and specifically garage rock proliferation, a more open and interactive experience. As such, I want to help novice listeners and collectors know what albums they should find and tune into if they really want to start a love for this music. As with all musical choices, these are completely subjective; however, I want newer listeners and fans to foster a deeper love for this music as I have by pointing them to the specific titles and bands that helped me ‘get it.’

Without further ado, the first entry into the article, tentatively titled “Garage for Beginners:”

Various Artists – “Nuggets: Original Artyfacts from the First Psychedelic Era 1965-1968.”

Nuggets Album Cover.

Ladies and gentlemen, the bedrock for all things garage rock, psychedelic, punk, jangle, paisley underground, retro-rock, etc. etc. etc.. The mother of every band that doesn’t have classically trained members carefully studying Lennon-McCartney tunes, or penning essays on the interesting use of counterpoint by Robert Johnson. The album that dared to compile every guy (and the occasional girl) who looked at the Rolling Stones and said “Shit, even I can do that!”

Compiled by Lenny Kaye and Jac Holzman, the original album featured twenty-seven tracks over four sides of music from bands that had rather modest national hits (usually their only one), or were, at best, popular regionally. Featuring classics by now-venerated bands, such as the 13th Floor Elevators, the Blues Magoos, the Blues Project, the Seeds, and the Barbarians, Nuggets proved the psychedelia and the origins of punk were not just relegated to specific scenes or to the hippie movement, but that rock and roll was everybody’s music, and they could do with it whatever they damned well pleased, as long as they had something universally appealing to say, and usually uniformly appalling in their amateur musical approach. The original album features at least two songs that steal the riff from the Who’s “I Can’t Explain,” three songs from bands whose singers’ approach is influenced by Bob Dylan, and all of whom look to the British Invasion bands for inspiration on how to make the rock and roll of only ten years ago their own.

In 1998, Rhino Records re-released the original collection to compact disc, and expanded the volume to over 100 tracks. The tracks expanded the definition and feeling of both punk and psychedelic, included detailed liner notes, and showcased a plethora of bands that may have never had a chance to get their music since their original releases. Twelve year since this re-release, garage rock and psychedelia has never been more direct and influence for so many indie groups, and has spurred new-found interest in the original bands. Though this re-release seemed a little desperate (at the time) due to the inclusion of tracks like “Louie Louie,” “Woolly Bully,” and “Incense and Peppermints” that were certified hits in their day, but justified the all-encompassing influence and spirit that rock and roll has on all modern music.

As somebody who owns the it, I highly recommend getting the original album on vinyl, if you have the means to find and obtain it. It is so very choice. And though the CD reissue is a fantastic collection, who knows what future compilations may find. If Nuggets were to stay its original self, it would still be just as influential to punk, neo-psych, and retro rock, and (chances are) everything that the new Nuggets expanded into would have been released through Sundazed’s Garage Beat ’66 series, which is just as thorough and engaging.

And yet, as having the reissue has exposed me to the Hombres, Captain Beefheart’s earliest singles, We the People, and the Monks, I cannot emphasize enough just how important that release is as well.

In short, it is the Rosetta Stone for everything great, well, and good in rock, and should guide us all in our understanding of what true rock and roll should be.


(Just another reminder: VIC Radio’s 50 Hour Marathon is happening this weekend, April 9-11! Donate to help feed the homeless! )

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