Original Artyfacts from the British Empire and Beyond
Nuggets Volume I, which highlighted American garage bands, served as a lending library of the greatest of homegrown, underground, one hit visionaries. Volume II, which finds the noise the rest of the world was making from 1964 to 1969, is just as illuminating. Four discs of mostly unheard pleasures, they range from solidly Yardbirds-influenced guitar rock to the strange expressions of artists such as Brazil’s Os Mutantes. As a historical document, the set is invaluable in tracing the origins of many of rock’s larger names. For example, Ron Wood’s first recordings with The Birds are here, as well as early David Bowie (as Davy Jones). How about Carl Palmer (of ELP) with The Craig? Jeff Lynne (ELO) with The Idle Race? Steve Howe (Yes) on the freakout classic “My White Bicycle” by Tomorrow? Best of all are the several John’s Children cuts included. This was the starting point for Marc Bolan of T. Rex, and it’s probably safe to say, glam rock as well. “Desdemona” features Bolan’s singularly odd backing vocals, and wouldn’t sound out of place on later T. Rex releases. The entire globe seems to be represented, in some way or another, from Sweden (The Tages) to Peru (We All Together), Spain (Los Bravos) and dozens more. The 100-page book is worth the price all by itself, and by the time you finish listening to the hours of music here, you want to rush out and form a band. Or take some acid.
What’s amazing is that only a handful of “known” songs are included, such as Status Quo’s “Pictures of Matchstick Men” or “Friday on My Mind” by Australia’s The Easybeats — the sheer volume of incredible music collected is amazing. Of course, a sampling of this stuff can only end up frustrating the serious listener — where in the hell are you gonna find more material by, say, The Syndicats, whose “Crawdaddy Simone” is some serious rock action? Gee thanks, all of you at Rhino. Like I needed another obsession.
Rhino Records, 10635 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90025-4900; http://www.rhino.com