We’ve had the Nuggets, Pebbles and Rubble compilations when most of the kids – like the groups here – have just wanted to be a rolling stone. Heck, even adults just want to be Mick Jagger (or at least perform his moves). From the atrocious busker that’s often seen around Haymarket to the skinny-jean-wearing hipster types. You know who you are.
Down Under Nuggets: Original Australian Artyfacts 1965-1967 is a compilation that coincides with the 40th anniversary of the collection that kick-started it all. Nuggets: Original Artyfacts from the First Psychedelic Era 1965-1967 was compiled and released in the early seventies. The curator was Patti Smith guitarist and rock critic, Lenny Kaye. It combined an influential bunch of American garage rock and psychedelic singles that would prove both ground-breaking and enduring.
This home-grown version uses the same idea as its predecessor. It’s a primer containing back-to-basics sixties rock of the fuzzy, echo-laden and snarling guitar variety. The location is once again in the garage although the scene was predominantly considered underground. This is the Australian contingent producing their own take on The Beatles and The Stones; hits like “Green Onions”; and the skiffle, blues, surf, rock, folk, pop and jazz schools of thought that were popular at home and abroad.
The Bee Gees are easily the most famous artists on this set but they appear as you’ve never heard them before. The brothers Gibb are spitting out vocals like ol’ Mick on “Like Nobody Else”, while performing some fine rock ’n’ roll. At times this could be from another planet when you consider how different it is to their more famous hits, “Spicks & Specks” and “Stayin’ Alive”.
Another popular group are The Easybeats with “Sorry”. This is an amazing song with an equally breathtaking and scratchy lead guitar riff. Like most of the tracks on this compilation it’s positively electric and so short, sharp and punchy. The Loved Ones’ “The Loved One” also fits this category to a tee and is a master exercise in creative tinkering where musicians should take multiple notes.
There was also a fair bit of cross-pollination between the different beat groups. Guitarist, Lobby Lloyde appears in The Purple Hearts’ “Early in the Morning” where he bends and twists his guitar like a snake charmer. He also plays in The Wild Cherries who are represented here with “Krome Plated Yabby”.
Another highlight is The Throb’s sludge and feedback-ridden take of an original folk tune. Barrington Davis meanwhile, borrows some guitar-work from men with a similar surname (Ray and Dave Davies of The Kinks). The guitar may reign supreme here but the Hammond organ is another key feature in various tracks. In The Missing Links’ ”Wild About You” the sound of it warming up creates a space-vibe while The Master’s Apprentice’s “Buried” boasts lots of harmonica and Theremin.
Down Under Nuggets won’t change the world or even the current musical landscape. And it does cover similar ground to Nuggets II and other like-minded compilations from the era, but it still an interesting and worthy listen of some underrated Australian talent. If nothing else it will make you want to plug an old guitar into a fuzzy amp and scream “C’mon Aussie, C’mon!”
Originally published on 7 March 2013 at the following website: http://www.the59thsound.com/nuggets—down-under-07032013.html
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