Aug 152011

What’s the Best Song on the Original Nuggets LP?

That’s the question members of popular rock music discussion blog Rock Town Hall are set to tackle. Rather than simply providing an opportunity to simply cast votes for a favorite song, with or without explanation, the Hall has been sanctioned by the International Rockolympic Committee to conduct a week-long playoff series, beginning on Wednesday, August 17. Initial details follow. Please hold your votes, but feel free to add analyses of the divisional match-ups and other related comments as we anticipate the start of this historic showdown!


  64 Responses to “Once and for All: Rock Town Hall Announces Playoff System to Determine Best Song on the Original Nuggets Compilation”

  1. hrrundivbakshi

    Sheezus — I’m surprised how many of these trackkksss I don’t remember. Is that perhaps because they suck? Hmm?

    For the record — in true rock nerd/asshole stylee — I’m going to say, just once, that the “Nuggets II” box set is better than the first. THOSE songs, I remember.

  2. tonyola

    I do agree that the Nuggets concept has been overworked with Beneath the Planet of Nuggets and Return of the Sun of Nuggets. There was also a whole series of Nuggets CDs issued in the 1980s by Rhino that included the Monkees of all things – a non-Nuggets band if I ever heard one.

    However, the UK Nuggets box set is actually pretty good. If you really want to plumb the depths of 1960s garage, there’s the Back from the Grave series. Stoned, inept teenagers barely able to play their instruments yeowling about being screwed over by their real or imaginary girlfriends. Fascinating stuff.

  3. mockcarr

    Wednesday? Is there an impending lockout of these songs than needs to be negotiated?

  4. No, but as you can imagine there are a lot of logistics to work out: lodging, travel, YouTube and mp3 samples…

  5. pudman13

    The original version of this album was one of THE key records of my youth, so unlike a lot of people I remember it very specifically as what it is and not as one of many variations that came years later. This poll will be difficult, because unlike most comps it was so expertly assembled that some of the songs I like best were great in part because of context. (“Baby Please Don’t Go” is an example.) That said…my #1 fave on it is absolutely no contest–very easy for me, so it’s just going to be a countdown until we get to that side (which also has what is probably my second favorite…)

  6. alexmagic

    I have a pretty good feeling that the song that should win this tournament will win it, as I think it has the benefit of starting in the weakest division and should still be able to walk into its conference championship game as the favorite.

    Biggest upset of Mod’s petty (but ultimately wise, to keep this thing managable) decision to keep the rest of the box out of contention: The Sonics do not make the field. “Strychnine” not being allowed to compete for the crown is a travesty and a total game-changer.

  7. I know what you’re saying pudman13, and I think that’s why the “divisional play” mode will really help us make the right choice. Looking forward to your contributions, campaigning, etc!

  8. I think I’d like to be remembered by the phrase “petty, but ultimately wise.” Thanks, man.

  9. Weird. I got a Nuggets album in high school but it was a single album. It had a bunch of these songs but had some that are not on the original double like I See The Light, Question of Temperature, and, instead of Moulty by the Barbarians, it had Are You A Girl Or Are You A Boy. And I can’t find any reference to it on the internets.

    I concur with HVB. I like the American Nuggets a lot, but that first disc of the British version kicks a tremendous amount of ass if only because of My White Bicycle and Sorry.

  10. BigSteve

    Yeah and I think the other songs are lucky that Talk Talk by the Music Machine isn’t eligible. I was *sure* it was on the original LP, but no it’s the first track on the second disc of the boxset.

  11. That is on my single album version but man does that song stink.

  12. Townspeople’s enthusiasm for alternate versions of this collection is commendable, but it’s important – once and for all – that we stay true to Holzman and Kaye’s original vision. They made some tough decisions when they selected the original songs for inclusion. It’s only right that we abide by their original decisions in making this ultimate decision.

  13. I agree, although I think this is a slam dunk.

  14. mockcarr

    Yeah, but the Nuggets of my youth had about twelve “volumes” on vinyl. Maybe after this, we can have the best Nuggets song that didn’t appear on the original double album.

  15. Sure, we can throw in Pebbles, etc when we get through with the tough job of selecting the best of the original Nuggets comp. The Lord’s work is never done.

  16. mockcarr

    It wasn’t Pebbles though, those never had enough decent things on them to merit a purchase. You could get one of those Nuggets, Vol. Umpteen albums for the price of two singles.

  17. I’ll say it now, once and for all, at least as far as I’m concerned: “Spazz” is the great song in the Pebbles series!

  18. I heartily concur!

  19. 2000 Man

    Really? I think that’s a great one!

    That Nuggets boxed set is essential for my good mental health. They played that stuff on the radio when I was a kid and listening to WIXY 1260 and CKLW out of Canada. I seemed to remember those as the best songs, but they seemed to disappear to everyone else. Nuggets 2 is pretty amazing in that I think most people that bought it only knew a handful of songs on it. I know I only knew ten or so, but the first box was so good, I just bought the other one. I bought the Children of Nuggets, too. I like that one as much as the other two.

  20. pudman13

    Wow,…so I’m not the only one who was completely floored by “Spazz” back in the day. I’m not entirely sure I’d still say it’s the one, but I must say that when I was in my teens it was my fave 60s garage song of all.

  21. tonyola

    “Talk Talk” is a great song.

  22. I know I’m in the minority on Talk Talk but that one have never done it for me, starting with the ham-fisted stops in the very beginning and continuing through the whole over-the-top performance. My issues with it are not unlike my issues with War, Uh!, What Is It Good For by Edmund Star (?)

  23. Although, since 2k Man and I often see eye to eye on things, I’ll try to listen to it with fresh ears.

  24. alexmagic

    “Spazz” makes my Top 5 for the entire Nuggets box set, no question. Possibly Top 3.

  25. tonyola

    You have issues with Edwin Starr’s “War” too? Good God, y’all. That’s one of the gutsiest songs Motown has ever made. You really do hate smart music, don’t you?

  26. mockcarr

    I would not feel comfortable predicting a winner judging by the comments.

  27. I, too, am troubled by cdm’s admission here. Nevertheless, I’m sure we’ll weather this storm and come out better people for it.

  28. alexmagic

    I really like Talk Talk. I think there are little fills in there instead of it being full on stops at the beginning, and that makes all the difference in the world.

    Also, the lead singer of Music Machine and his goofy single black glove is probably the second best of the Nuggets-band backstories, behind only the amazing story of Moulty running around the record company’s office smashing albums over his head with his claw hand, which happens to be the greatest story in the history of music.

  29. Wait a minute… Gutsier that “My Guy”?!?! I don’t think so…

  30. mockcarr

    Actually, it seemed like a pretty consistent deal-breaker for cdm. I don’t know what’s so smart about ham-fisted stops if that’s what bugs him.

  31. mockcarr

    Back story alert!

    That’s going to make it really hard for me to NOT vote for Moulty. But I think I can resist.

  32. I know Moulty had a hook for a hand but I haven’t heard that story. Or the story about the black glove. Can to elaborate or do I need to block out some googling time on my schedule?

  33. Now people are starting to see the benefits of the few days of advance notice that have been provided. Remember, if you haven’t done so yet, please forward notification of this upcoming series to your garage-rock friends who don’t typically visit the Halls of Rock. We don’t want to leave them out of this important decision.

  34. BigSteve

    Cdm, you’re on probation until further notice. The black glove thing is on full display here btw:

  35. mockcarr

    The Sonics should be the ur-Nuggets band. Now Strychnine has some good and grubby saxophone on it.

  36. tonyola

    “My Guy” is a fine song but gutsy it ain’t. When I think of gutsy Motown, I think more along the lines of the Contours and “Do You Love Me”.

  37. cliff sovinsanity

    It pains me to no end that I won’t be able to defend The Amboy Dukes’ Journey To The Center Of The Mind. Although Baby Please Don’t Go has it’s merits, it’s more of a Nugent workout…or is that Nugget workout.

  38. tonyola

    There are lots of fine songs out of the running:

    Syndicate of Sound – “Hey Little Girl”
    Balloon Farm – “A Question of Temperature”
    Strangeloves – “I Want Candy”
    Love – “Seven and Seven Is”

    ….just to name a few.

  39. cliff sovinsanity

    I worry that Side 2 is going to cost many a townspeople their friendships. Bloody lips and hurt feelings for sure.

  40. cliff sovinsanity

    Syndicate of Sound – Little Girl
    Human Beinz – Nobody But Me

  41. cliff sovinsanity

    Duh, you just mentioned Little Girl

  42. tonyola

    Even though it’ll be a tough fight, there is but one winner for Side 2, and that will be revealed at the proper time.

  43. tonyola

    When I was a kid, everyone who was starting out on guitar just had to learn the alternating-note riff in the Nightcrawlers’ “Little Black Egg” and every local band covered the song. They were a Daytona Beach group and the song was a pretty big hit in the Orlando area.

  44. Yeah, for me Side 1 is going to be a dogfight, although I can see battles developing on Side 2 – hometown loyalties may play a great role on this side. Side 3 poses a personal battle for two sides of my soul; I will need to meditate on the split – or see if I can’t satisfy one side of my soul with a selection from another album side. Side 4 is like the NL West (or AL West, for that matter) as far as I’m interested. Some team playing .530 ball could win the division.

  45. tonyola

    There are a couple of contenders on Side 4 that, despite being interesting songs in themselves, don’t really fit the Nuggets garage-cheese-amateur spirit.

  46. After conducting a modest search on the internet, it turns out that there IS no story about the black gloves other than they just wore them. And that’s fine. But much like their music, I thought there was going to be something exciting behind the black glove thing and as it turns out, there was nothing there.

    Good drummer though.

  47. alexmagic

    You just don’t know how to google well, cdm. They all wore black gloves to cover up they they had transplants after loosing their hands in a record pressing machine, the insidious Music Machine that the band was named after.

  48. alexmagic

    I especially like Little Black Egg and Spazz because of how (differently) weird they are with no explanation.

    The weirdness of Spazz comes from the music and performance, and how much the lead singer just goes for it on this completely bonkers song. It’s like the musical equivalent of Manos, The Hands of Fate, and I mean that in a very complimentary way.

    Little Black Egg, meanwhile, sounds really basic and innocent, but what’s actually going on in that one, lyrically? There’s some creepy Stephen King stuff going down with that egg, and no doubt Mary and Lee wound up dead shortly after the song ends… because The Little Black Egg commanded it be so.

  49. tonyola

    We wracked our brains as kids trying to figure out what “Little Black Egg”‘s lyrics were about. “Little black egg’s gonna tell on you.” Is that ominous or what?

  50. Goddamn that’s a hell of a story! I’m definitely going to give that song another listen.

  51. It is nice that the Rhino guys got a full double album in order on the 1st CD of the box set. Can’t predict a winner but I’m fairly sure about the final two the way you have the sides seeded.

    We can’t have a wildcard, play-in for some of the Nuggets-related tracks mentioned above? If so, I nominate “Blackout of Gretely”. Insane.

  52. tonyola

    Rhino did a pretty great job on the US Nuggets box set. They even kept Lenny Kaye’s liner notes from the 1972 original.

  53. tonyola

    But “War” isn’t ham-fisted. Two sets of precision hits (three and two), then the music drops out except for the kick drum and a couple of baritone sax burbles just before a slam-against-the-wall massed horn blast. Deftly handled and smart.

  54. Side 4 — may have the winner in my book.

  55. I’ll agree that the ham fisted stops are executed with aplomb.

    It doesn’t surprise me that you and I disagree about the merits of War or Talk Talk, tony. There is something vaguely math-like about those songs that seems like it would appeal to your love of prog. Maybe on a subconscious level.

    I on the other hand don’t like them because you can’t whistle them.

    By the way, were you here when we had the sexiest prog rocker cyber-pageant? It was quite entertaining.

  56. machinery

    This is a hard one for me, because I believe (truly believe) that the greatest Garage song is off of Nuggets II

    Nothing can top that solo and scream.


  57. Well, this is a new one. Motown power-funk and pissed-off teen-garage angst are lumped together with King Crimson and Gentle Giant because they’re “math-like”. Any other connections you see that you wish to stretch to the breaking point? Maybe you’re just not good enough at whistling.

    Sorry I missed out on the cyber pageant. I’ve looked at posts before my time here and sadly I’ve missed out on a lot of interesting stuff.

  58. BigSteve

    Ton, check out the pageant and the John Wetton interview:

  59. 2000 Man

    I like that it sounds like everyone in the band is playing their instruments with their fists.

  60. I said “vaguely math like”. There’s something very stilted about the precision with which those breaks are played which I find annoying.

    And I never said that they should be lumped in with Gentle Giant. I’m just suggesting that there is a precision and aggression in those songs that seems like it would appeal to a Rush or UK fan.

    I agree that War is “deftly handled and smart”. There just doesn’t seem to be much going on at the core of it.

  61. tonyola

    “There’s something very stilted about the precision with which those breaks are played which I find annoying.”

    It’s called professionalism. Maybe you would prefer the Shaggs to have backed Edwin Starr, hm?

  62. Exactly. The only two choices are the Shaggs or cold, soulless professionalism. Whew, I’m glad we got that cleared up.

  63. When I was a kid, cdm, that single sent shivers up my spine. I still get the chills when I think about the chills that song used to give me – and I still love “War” (the song, not the act of armies fighting or the U2 album). It’s a totally manly performance (although NOT containing the manliest BVs in rock). It’s got social consciousness out the whazoo. It’s got an awesome rhythm, including those stops. I’m so down with that song that I apologize for letting tonyola do most of the heavy lifting in its favor all this time. Despite your not liking “War” or the band X, I still think you’re A-1 Steak Sauce, but you’re missing out on some killer arrangements in the tradition of The Temptations’ “Cloud Nine.”

  64. tonyola

    Right, Mr. Mod. By 1969, Motown was trading some of the sweetness of its earlier songs in favor of a more rock-funk-influenced, heavier sound – they saw what was happening with artists like Sly & The Family Stone and James Brown. Sometimes the approach didn’t work very well, like the Temptations’ “Psychedelic Shack”. But with “War”, Motown perfected the style with both precision and awesome power. Motown also displayed uncharacteristic courage in releasing “War”. The label was fairly circumspect for the time in terms of social criticism, but “War” was blunt and direct – no wonder it became an anthem in the Vietnam era. It still is a spine-chilling song.

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