Happy Chanukah and welcome to night one. I have a habit of kicking things off with a bang, but this one may not be as much a revelation as from years prior. Why? As far as box sets go this one is relatively common for starters (albeit completely out of print, even in the realm of digital vendors). Secondly, to our ears, this album contains a bevy of relatively household names (key word being relatively).
Children of Nuggets is likely the gold standard for various artist compilation box sets. It's consistency is nothing short of staggering, and it's scope encompassing, even though it technically purports to being genre specific(ish). The back story on Nuggets originates to 1972, when rock scribe Lenny Kaye was commissioned to compile a double albums worth of songs from the first era of rock, representing overlooked artists just shy of surfacing on the mainstream radar. That meant no one on the level of the Stones, Floyd, or even Jefferson Airplane were eligible. Instead, Kaye honed in on the grittier side of psychedelia, angling for groups with a rougher, garage rock bent like the Electric Prunes, the Seeds, and The 13th Floor Elevators. Mystique was a watchword, and when the record fell into the proper hands upon its release, it's slowly snowballing popularity never quite exceeded that of a cult classic, but it became a totemic one at that. So much so, the original 27 track Nuggets double LP comp was quadrupled to a four disc box in 1998, featuring scores of other relevant artists circa 1965-68. And in the intervening years before the box, dozens of other like-minded obscuro psych/garage compilations (the Pebbles series comes to mind) scratched the itch Lenny Kaye initially tickled. 2001 gave rise to a sequel Nuggets box, another four disc counterpart from roughly the same era, only with an emphasis on British and international acts.
Children of Nuggets, the third in Rhino Records box set series, and more comprehensive than the previous two in more ways than one. Not so much in the way of quantity (still a manageable four CDs), but in the case of Children... a far greater swath of time is covered - 1976-96 to be exact, though bands from the '80s are the vast majority are who are covered here. For the most part, the roughly eighty bands that comprise this collection are not out-and-out revivalists of the psych/garage form, rather artists that purloined a trick or two from their Baby Boomer elders. Turns out the punk/post-punk movements in the late '70s that had displaced the beatnik underground hadn't entirely eschewed some of the previous generation's trippier inclinations, rather massaged them into something new.
Combos such as The Last, Barracudas, The Optic Nerve, Milkshakes, Hoodoo Gurus, XTC's alter ego project the Dukes of Stratosphere and even the rootsy Long Ryders all in earn their rightful place in Children's sprawling orphanage, given their almost obvious psych delineations. But going back to what I said about expanding definitions. On one level it's a little difficult to wrap your head around the inclusion of seemingly straitlaced power pop troupes like the Smithereens, Spongetones, Plimsouls, Posies and even early Chris Stamey & the dB's being accorded seats at this table. Then again, a good number of that lot owed more than a wink and a nod to the Byrds, eh? This box set's tentacles cull even further than that, bringing aboard Oceania leading lights The Lime Spiders (yep, "Slave Girl" is present) The Stems, Died Pretty, The Church and Chills. We even dip over to the other side of the pond for C86-era gems from Primal Scream, The Dentists, Bevis Frond, and the farfisa-addled Inspiral Carpets.
And of course, what would Children of Nuggets be without a couple of choice numbers from godfathers like The Flamin' Groovies, not to mention art punk prodigies the Soft Boys? The segues from song-to-song can get a tad awkward given this collection's sheer diversity and scope, but it's consistency across all four discs is near-breathtaking - and best of all, near-perfect. So much gold to be had here, but don't take my word for it. Click on the pic of the underside of the box directly to your left for the entire tracklist with download links to follow. Sorry no FLAC.
Disc 1 Disc 2 Disc 3 Disc 4