Various Nuggets II

The latest Nuggets box set of '60s rock is stickered with the unusual selling point of "contains virtually no hits!," implying these four CDs are crammed full of nothing but obscurities, which is certainly not the case. Nuggets II follows the first Nuggets box of American garage punk and psychedelia from the '60s with a similar collection that explores the rest of the world, with an appropriate focus on the UK between 1964 and 1969. Though most of the bands here were following in the musical wake of the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Yardbirds, the Who and the Kinks, they have become torchbearers in their own right. Included in this great collection are garage punk heroes the Troggs, R&B turned psych signposts the Pretty Things, along with mod stalwarts like the Small Faces, the Creation, the Move, the Action, the Eyes and the Easybeats. The selection is fantastic, with only a few duds among these 109 tracks. The liner notes are exceptional, detailing each track's history, impact and context, along with great photos. Bands from outside the UK featured in this set include folks from New Zealand, Australia, Holland, Germany, Spain, Peru, Mexico, Czechoslovakia, Iceland, Japan, Sweden and Brazil. Canada is represented appropriately by Winnipeg survivors the Guess Who, with early Bachman rock out "It's My Pride," along with Toronto's Stones-inspired Ugly Ducklings, with the 1966 track "Nothing," as well as lesser knows like Winnipeg's garage punks the Jury and Montreal's harmonica-driven outfit the Haunted. One of the best features of this collection is its display of early works by those who would later become household names, including T. Rex's Marc Bolan, featured here in John's Children, with his unmistakable warbling vocals, Van Morrison performing a killer take of Them's garage R&B staple "I Can Only Give You Everything" and David Bowie during his mod days, then still Davy Jones. Other notables include ELP's Carl Palmer's early work in freak-beat band the Craig, the Rolling Stones' Ron Wood, in England's the Birds (they sued America's Byrds), Dutch band Golden Earring, of "Radar Love" fame, when they were a beat group called the Golden Earrings, Rockpile's Dave Edmunds, in the psychedelic Love Sculpture, Deep Purple members Ian Gillan and Roger Glover creating harmonic baroque pop in Episode Six and the Bee Gees during their days as superior Australian pop craftsmen, featured here with Aussie vocalist Ronnie Burns. The best tracks with well known names attached come from Jeff Lynne's Idle Race, before he formed ELO, the great psychedelic band Tomorrow, featuring pre-Yes guitarist Steve Howe (other Yes members Peter Banks and Chris Squire are also captured here in the Syn), Strawbs member Dave Lambert, when he was in a band called Fire, and Dantalion's Chariot, featuring guitarist and songwriter Andy Somers, later Andy Summers of the Police. There's also quite a range of seriously obscure gems from those whose moments in the spotlight were rather brief. The best of the under-known recordings in this set come from Australia's the Masters Apprentices, Sweden's the Tages and Peru's We All Together, along with the UK's the Mickey Finn, Wimple Winch, Timebox, the Factory and the Open Mind. (Rhino)