Aug 172011

Rock Town Hall’s playoff series to determine—once and for all—the best song on the original Nuggets compilation begins with a determination of the Best Song on Side 1. This part of the process is surprisingly simple, provided you can handle the turmoil that may come with selection a BEST SONG from each of the original Nuggets‘ 4 albums sides. I, for one, will experience tremendous turmoil over my choice for Side 1’s BEST SONG. What a killer top 5–seeded songs, if you ask me!

Before you place your vote and/or you lobby on behalf of a particular song, please take some time to review each of the songs in this division. Then, you are encouraged to state your choice for BEST SONG on Side 1 in the Comments section (you must be registered to add comments, if you’re not already registered, please do so: the more chatter the merrier) and place your vote in the poll associated with this thread. The winner of this album side will move onto a playoff against the eventual winner of Side 4. One day at a time, my friends, one day at a time…

What is the BEST SONG on Side 1 of the original Nuggets LP?

  • The Electric Prunes, "I Had Too Much to Dream Last Night" (35%, 13 Votes)
  • The Standells, "Dirty Water" (24%, 9 Votes)
  • The Knickerbockers, "Lies" (24%, 9 Votes)
  • The Strangeloves, "Night Time" (14%, 5 Votes)
  • Mouse, "A Public Execution" (3%, 1 Votes)
  • The Vagrants, "Respect" (0%, 0 Votes)
  • The Blues Project, "No Time Like the Right Time" (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 37

Loading ... Loading ...

Following are audio-only YouTubes of Side 1’s songs. Please review these selections carefully and do your part to determine a division winner. Voting for the BEST SONG on Side 1 will run through Friday, August 19, 2011. In the following days voting will begin to determine the BEST SONGS on Sides 2 through 4. Enjoy!


  60 Responses to “Once and for All: Round 1, Rock Town Hall Determines the Best Song on Side 1 of the Original Nuggets Compilation”

  1. A good side, with the only weak tracks being the Vagrants’ weak attempt at soul (think of what the Rascals would have done with this) and the overly-blatant Dylan copying of Mouse. The standouts:

    “Lies” – These guys sure knew their Beatle stylings, but even the Fab Four didn’t always show this much sheer exuberance. Fine song that sweeps you along.

    “Dirty Water” – As kids, we thought this song was dirty: “along with lovers, fuckers, and thieves. Nice punky street-rat attitude makes for a good song in isolation, but it’s not the best here. Maybe too familiar?

    “No Time” – The most sophisticated song in the set. These guys seemed to be more serious musicians. Points for ability but it falls short in pure energy.

    “Too Much To Dream” – Demon-hornet-from-hell intro. Drenched to saturation with fuzz, echo, and tremelo all driven at a manic pace. Gratuitous guitar crash. Foreboding minor chords. Otherworldly guitar soloing. Desperate sexual frustration. Nothing else on the radio sounded like this in December 1966.

    The Electric Prunes get my vote.

  2. I’m going with The Standells, BECAUSE of the punky street-rat attitude….and the stick-in-your-head guitar line. Close second for me would be The Prunes cut – great, cheesy psych. The Knickerbockers and Mouse are just a little too purposely derivative of their respective sources, The Strangeloves were a studio concoction, not a real band (to the best of my recollection), and the other two are just kinda dull.

  3. 2000 Man

    I think Dylan could have used some of the humor Mouse had. What gets me about that song and Lies is how easy it seemed for some people to write songs that would have been fan favorites if the artists they sounded like had recorded them. Sure they couldn’t duplicate it, but both of those songs just sound effortless to me.

    The Standells will probably get my vote. I think it’s funny that a band from LA made what is probably still the de facto Rock song about Boston, loved by all of Boston even more than their own beloved bands, and probably unknown to most of Boston that The Standells come from LA, of all places. But I do subscribe to the “backstory has nothing to do with the song” theory, and I’ll just say that the riff, the sneering vocals and sexually frustrated women make this one of the all time classic rock songs. If you can’t shake your ass to this one, you can’t shake your ass to anything.

  4. Sound thinking, Bobby B!

  5. I put my vote in for the derivative “Lies” just because it so nicely encapsulates the sound of the early Beatles with some swarthy New York rock behind it. It’s a great SONG. I will say that it was really hard for me to vote for that one over “I Had Too Much to Dream Last Night,” “Dirty Water,” and especially “Night Time,” the last of which is built around one of my favorite musical devices: the stomping riff and 4-on-the-floor beat. Really tough side to pick. I know there are lots more comments and votes to come, but I figured I’d come clean with my vote at this time.

  6. mockcarr

    I’m going with Lies, anyone who sounds like Lennon is ok with me, and I think it’s actually the best song of these seven. Dirty Water has the best riff, but I can’t shake the Red Sox connotation, I know that’s not their fault, but there it is.

    Too Much To Dream is stuck is a tough draw. I have to hand it to that guy for having the guts to be sporting those glasses in performance.

  7. There are no bad choices on Side One. This is the strongest side of the four in my opinion. I even like Public Execution, partly because it’s a good song and partly because it’s so absurdly derivative. (If we ever have a Once and for All to determine the most derivative song of all time, surely Lies, Public Execution and Suspicion by Terry Stafford would take the top three honors)

    I was torn between Dirty Water and Too Much To Dream. If I was hearing these songs for the first time ever, Dirty Water would win hands down. But, unfairly or not, I burned out on it long ago and so I voted for Too Much To Dream.

  8. alexmagic

    I’m still giving this one a lot of thought, but you hit on something I was feeling: I’m probably going to eliminate “Dirty Water” – which really is great – from contention because of the Red Sox thing, too. At least we’re being honest about it!

  9. BigSteve

    I need to think more before I vote, but I despise Dirty Water. In general I don’t like songs that take a simple riff through a blues progression (even Birthday, the Beatles’ parody of this style), but I also find the singer’s ‘punk attitude’ fakefakefake. The only halfway decent thing about that track is the drums.

  10. Good point about the Red Sox tie-in tarnishing “Dirty Water.” I’m curious to see how regional loyalties tie in through this series. We’ll see where misterioso and bostonhistorian come down on some of these album sides, for instance – and how the hell will The Great 48 sort things out if he decides to partake in this historic decision?

  11. And I’m the one who got a time out for calling bullshit on Talk Talk? You need to do some soul searching Big Steve.

  12. pudman13

    This was a really tough choice for me—other than the Vagrants, this is a perfect album side. I eliminated in tihs order:
    Vagrants…One of Kaye’s two mistakes was choosing to include a few not especially interesting cover versions (the exception is “Baby Please Don’t Go,” which I’ll discuss later.) His other mistake was picking a remarkably wimpy piece of crap as the album’s token “pop” song, also something I’ll discuss later.
    Mouse…fun song, but not as substantial as the others.
    Strangeloves…great garage rock to be sure, but kind of a one-trick song, so a bit lesser than the others.
    Standells…I think “Dirty Water” is great, but to me the Standells are one of the very best bands in the entire genre, and I could name at least seven or eight songs by them I like better than this one, which has a bit of a gimmick (naming a city always is…trust me, I live in Cleveland where we still hear Ian Hunter on the radio daily.)
    Blues Project…I like this one a whole lot; it’s kind of a sleeper on NUGGETS. I just happen like the next two better.
    Knickerbockers…Wow, was it hard to not pick this one, which as mentioned above isn’t just a perfect Beatles-soundalike but is a totally great song on its own. Would you believe that the first time I heard the song was on a televised Linda Rondstadt concert?! When I bought NUGGETS and discovered this was the same song my mind was blown. Anyway, this easily could have been my choice, but…
    Electric Prunes. This to me is the epitome of psychedelic garage rock in a 3-minute form. They have a lot of cool songs, and I suppose over the years they have gotten, if anything, more praise than such an erratic band deserves, but this song delivers for me every time.

  13. pudman13

    Jeez, guys, we’re choosing *songs* here, and it’s unfair to blame them for how they have been used in subsequent years. The Red Sox excuse is really lame.

  14. I’m sure we all know it is, but at least we’re being transparent in our process to make history.

  15. mockcarr

    I don’t. I also don’t blame the singer for not sounding like Lennon. I guess the first sentence didn’t count somehow.

  16. BigSteve

    Lies may in fact be the best song and/or record in this batch, but I don’t see it as being garage or psych in any sense. Is the fact that it’s not representative a problem?

  17. tonyola

    If we were voting on the best psych/garage song, you might have a point. But we’re voting for the best song on Nuggets so it’s eligible. Besides, if famous-artist copying is disallowed, then Mouse has to go to.

  18. cliff sovinsanity

    There is no accompanying clip that I’m seeing for the The Blues Project’s No Time Like The Right Time.
    Here is a link for those considering this nugget–S8ZjI8_hM

  19. tonyola

    The video clip of the Electric Prunes almost made me question my vote. Now I know better than to expect studio quality in a 1967 live performance, but damn, that’s bad.

  20. Completely valid argument, but I see the comp as more than a strict “garage” or “psych” collection, which is what it’s become known as. I think it was more an effort to give value to some then-soon-to-be-forgotten 1-hit wonder-type singles that upheld the last vestiges of a pre-psychedelic, pre-hippie rock ‘n roll aesthetic. By that line of thinking, I felt comfortable going with the better song – not to take anything away from the other songs and not to say I am not goin to shy away from selecting a more archetypal “Nuggets”-style song, as we’ve come to think of the album’s legacy.

    I haven’t read the original liner notes in years; I wonder if they speak to the comp’s “mission” or whatever you want to call it.

  21. cliff sovinsanity

    I’m completely with Pudman for Side 1. As much as I like “Lies” it seems out of place on the record. We may run into this problem on Side 2 with The Remains.
    So, it all came down to The Electric Prunes and The Standells songs. I thought I was alone with my tepid feelings towards Dirty Water. It goes beyond my Motown allegiance. It always came across kind of lazy. Where’s the fun? The Prunes at least went for it. Ridicule be damned, at least they’re into it.
    The title of the song is the icing on the cake. My vote is for I Had To Much To Dream Last Night.

  22. Thanks for pointing that out. That was the link I had in there. I don’t know what happened. I found another YouTube posting that seems to be working. Sorry, The Blues Project!

  23. BigSteve

    I wasn’t suggesting disallowing anything, just things people might want to consider in their voting. I know I’m reading the various discussions before I decide what to vote on.

    I’m just imagining that if Lies were to win the first round and then go on to defeat its four rivals, that would be a really weird outcome. That would say more about the voters than it would about Nuggets.

  24. alexmagic

    OK, I’ll give it a shot. I’m not very far out of step with what’s been said so far. I’ll go least to greatest:

    7. Mouse, “A Public Execution”
    Ann enjoyable Dylan parody/pastiche, but in the end, it just kind of elicits a “Heh” reaction out of me and that’s not nearly enough to be in this fight.

    6. The Vagrants, “Respect”
    I do like this one, especially transposing the horns over to the organ, which is the perfectly rational bargain basement cover move to make, and gives it the “garage” sound. But it still just reminds me that the Otis original remains the only version of “Respect” I ever need.

    5. The Blues Project, “No Time Like The Right Time”
    Better than both below because it’s good and it stands on its own. I like the faux-raga/tambourine break in the middle. I think if Veronica had managed to score some really good weed off one of her family’s chauffers and got the rest of the band totally off their shit high, this might have been the cool, heavier direction The Archies could have taken,until Reggie and Jughead would eventually get into harder stuff and an enraged Reggie would have stabbed Archie over hogging both girls, while Jughead would have freaked out and tried to eat his own hand.

    4. and 3. The Strangeloves, “Night Time” and The Standells, “Dirty Water”
    Divorced from the unfortunate Red Sox baggage Dirty Water has picked up, it stands up as a pretty great song. Opens strong, excellent scumbag lead vocals, acceptable use of
    harmonica, the drums and keyboard carry it to the finish line and all in support of sleazy lyrics. There’s nothing to not like about it. Where it loses points in this competition is that there are still a number of Nuggets that end up doing the same kind of thing nearly as well as Dirty Water, and Night Time is one of them. Night Time hits harder, but Dirty Water’s committment to being such a shady song gives it the edge.

    2. The Knickerbockers, “Lies”
    Man, I hate hate hate not being able to give this the win, because it’s amazing. So many people tried to go out and replicate the Beatlemania formula, but these guys did it, they
    pulled it off and recorded a perfect uptempo Beatles number that doesn’t seem like it’s ripping off anything directly, it just gets the hard-to-reach It. It’s a flat out great song. And I think it becomes even better – and an even better Nuggets song -that this is all these guys are known for now. Lies is like Captain America – someone accidentally got the formula to work perfectly just once, but then no one else was ever able to recreate the experiment again.

    1. The Electric Prunes, “I Had Too Much To Dream Last Night”
    Ultimately, I had to pick this one. If you were to be aware of the general idea of psychelic music and the fear of the dangers of the olde-timey bicycle horn-accompanied guy singing about grandfather’s flying train places where the style can end up, seeing the dual threat of a name as dumb as The Electric Prunes and a song with that kind of pun would send up all kinds of warning signals. A song called this by a band called that should be awful.

    But it’s not. Instead, I Had Too Much To Dream is everything you want all weirdo ’60s psych to be and it comes down to working that just-shy-of-sinister ominous vibe. It feels big but it doesn’t go on forever and keeps the right pace. The vocals have just the right amount of effect on them, the guitars exactly fuzzy enough. The bass and drums are perfect. Tony’s “demon hornet from hell” line is a perfect description of that intro, and ending in that looping fadeout captures the “might be trapped in a nightmare” hallucinogenic state the rest of the song creates. With Lies, it’s hard to figure out how the Knickerbockers pulled it off, but it’s clear what they were trying to pull off. With this song, it’s hard to figure out where this thing even came from. It may not win this competition – in fact, I don’t think it will get my vote at the end – but honestly, is there any other Nuggets song that could have been the first track? If not the best Nuggets song, is it at least the most Nuggets song?

  25. tonyola

    Thanks for the kudos about the “Dream” intro. The Prunes song is just about as Nuggety as one can get, but there is one other song in the collection that hits the bullseye dead center in capturing the Nuggets ethos. All will be revealed at the appropriate time.

  26. I hear you, BigSteve. I wasn’t trying to squash your point of view, just respond to it with an alternate one.

    One thing this exercise will confirm is that making history is a bitch!

  27. Magicman, you have made a tremendous case for “I Had Too Much to Dream Last Night”! Voting on Side 1 will continue through Friday, but your thorough and passionate analysis of all 7 songs is what makes this place special. That and BigSteve and cdm’s wrestling match for the prized bottle of Mandom!

  28. While I’m thinking of it, some high praise I want to dish out to both “Lies” and “I Had Too Much to Dream Last Night”:

    1. The Knickerbockers’ lead guitarist does stuff on “Lies” that George Harrison could never do on an early Beatles song. That guy, if you ask me, is the band member who puts this song over the top.

    2. On this one song The Electric Prunes fulfill everything The Rolling Stones ever hoped to get out of smoking pot and hash and taking psychedelics. I’ve said before that as much as I love the Stones pot and psychedelics were their kryptonite. Somehow any efforts the Stones made to make “stoner” music sounded half-assed or “charmingly half-assed,” in a few best cases. Compare “…Dream…” with an obvious Stones effort at psychedelia, like “2000 Light Years From Home.” The latter is pretty good, but “…Dream…” incorporates all the psychedelic aspirations of the Stones ever had while retaining all of the early Stones’ cool menace.

  29. 2000 Man

    Boo. It’s not their fault people from Boston can’t even get behind one of their own bands and had to go all the way to LA. Dirty Water kills, and I don’t think about Baseball at all when I hear it.

  30. pudman13

    Great point about the lead guitar on “Lies.” That song definitely has tougher and more exciting lead guitar than on any Beatles song up to that point…it’s almost as if it was played by Paul McCartney.

  31. tonyola

    The closest the Stones came to the Electric Prunes song was the fierce “Have You Seen Your Mother Baby…”. In fact, the Prunes might have been influenced by the Stones’ embracing of the murk since “Mother” preceded “Too Much to Dream” by a couple months. I’ll bet that the Prunes never dressed in drag for a cover shoot, either.

  32. 2000 Man

    Don’t get me wrong, I like Too Much to Dream, but I don’t get the demon from hell thing out of it. I always got the beginning of Green Hornet on a black and white TV with a three insch speaker. I like the guitar solo, it sounds backwards, but I wouldn’t know. But for me, Too Much to Dream works best in a smaller dose. If I hear it too many times because the oldies radio station gets it back in their rotation, I’ll quit listening to it. I never do that with Dirty Water.

  33. BigSteve

    Yeah I’m tempted to vote for Lies purely on the basis of that unresolved chord at the end of the guitar solo.

  34. Bravo, tonyola! “Have You Seen Your Mother Baby” is probably the best stoned (non-narcotic division) Stones song.

  35. OK, I can eliminate Mouse and the Vagrants right off. “Night Time” and “Dirty Water” both get to the same stompin’ garage party vibe. “Dirty Water” does suffer from over-exposure due to the Red Sox connections. Not their fault, but true nonetheless. “Lies” is a great song; everybody tries to copy the Beatles but this may be the only track that could actually fool people into thinking it is a great lost Fab 4 number. Hard to put this at #2.

    “I Had Too Much to Dream (Last Night)” is a key psychedelic track. All the distortion, backwards guitar, mind-bender lyrics have become so ingrained that you here them and think – Psychedelic. This song (and “Incense and Peppermints” and the Beatles and the Byrds) is why.

  36. Damn, forgot #3, with the Blues Magoos. Complicated song and those guys can actually play. Their other song on the box set “We Ain’t Got Nothin’ Yet” is pretty damn good as well.

  37. Most representative of the Nuggets garage/psych axis will come into play on later sides, I’m sure.

  38. BigSteve

    Still doing research before I vote. Did you know Leslie West of Mountain was in the Vagrants? Did you know two women (Annette Tucker and Nancie Mantz) wrote I Had Too Much to Dream? The Strangeloves (whose Night Time is the sleeper of side one … it rocks harder than I remember) were really a production team including Richard Gottehrer, who also produced My Boyfriend’s Back. But did you know they had a made-up backstory to cover up that fact? They claimed to be three brothers from Australia — Giles, Miles and Niles Strange. Wild!

  39. tonyola

    Another tidbit – The Blues Project included Al Kooper and Steve Katz. These two went on to greater fame in Blood, Sweat & Tears.

  40. I knew about the Leslie West and Richard Gottehrer connections and the Strangeloves’ fake story. Gottehrer, if rock nerd memory serves, would go on to producer early Blondie records and other new wave stuff coming out of NYC, right?

  41. alexmagic

    The ringers who wrote I Had Too Much To Dream Last Night may or may not have written it as an “orchestral piano ballad” per Wiki. I’d love to hear the development of the song and the various demos that got it to how it ended up.

    Other interesting band backstories: The Knickerbockers tried a bunch of knockoff songs of other more popular bands, one of which was called “Jerk Town”, which is an amazing name for a song that someone needs to re-use. That they may have been a bunch of mercenaries trying to shamelessly copy whatever hits they heard on the radio only makes the greatness of “Lies” that much more impressive. Also, one of the guys in the band came from another band called The Rockin’ Saints, which is a great band name and would be an equally great name for an ’80s wrestling tag team.

  42. BigSteve

    Yes, Richard Gottehrer’s been around. It looks like he specializes in debut albums — Blondie, the Go Go’s, Robert Gordon, Marshall Crenshaw, the Fleshtones, and more recently the Dum Dum Girls and the Raveonettes.

  43. BigSteve

    Lies sounded a lot more Nuggetty last night when I listened to it on good speakers. The performance is sharp, but the recording is kind of lo fi, at least compared to the competition.

  44. I listened to side 1 on my way home last night and that version of respect is really pretty great. That it didn’t receive any votes speaks to the how tough the competition was on that side.

  45. mockcarr

    Buddy Randell’s song My Feet Are Off The Ground is better than Lies or the range of Fuller songs they did if you ask me, there’s two different versions that each kick ass. I’ve been itching to cover this sucker live for 20 years.

    This is the more pysch version:

  46. BigSteve

    I finally decided I had to go with the Prunes track on this side. Those drum breaks rule, and the driving beat balances the otherworldly sounds. The fact that it written by professional songwriters means there’s more to it than just a riff. The lyrics are actually good, which cannot be said of many of the songs on this compilation.

    It’s got everything. Even autoharp! It’s currently in the lead, and I think this one would be tough to beat in the final round.

  47. “shamelessly copying what they heard on the radio” Where do you get that from? Oh… here:

    I love this song by the way, and this version, while not quite Tom Jone-esque, is still pretty deece.

  48. Yeah, I was surprised at the digs people took on that version. It’s no Otis’ “Respect,” which I agree with whoever said it is the best, think it’s a pretty strong garage take on a soul classic. “What would the Rascals have done with that song?” I think someone asked. I say, not much more – and probably a little less.

  49. mockcarr

    Well, the dude WAS a Righteous Brother for a bit.

  50. mockcarr

    Agreed. I think I liked it enough to get a comp of theirs back in those indie days Oats has decried.

  51. Have to say I’m dismayed at the lack of respect for “Respect” too. I didn’t vote for it, but it absolutely rocks. Great combination of garage snarl and R&B. Just because I like Otis’ version the best doesn’t mean the Vagrants didn’t do a great job on this song too. If the Rascals had done it too, I have a feeling their version would have kicked less ass (even though I do like the Rascals).

  52. The Electric Prunes and Standells have the two tracks that stand out most for me, but I’ll have to vote for “Dirty Water.” That riff became so ingrained in me when I was younger that I would annoy my fellow musicians in the high school band by playing it on my bassoon.

  53. tonyola

    Otis Redding did the best version of “Respect”? Really? I couldn’t disagree more. Othis did a good job but Aretha Franklin’s version is definitive. Even Redding admitted as much by saying “that little girl done stole from me”.

    I’m also the one who posed the Rascals question, and I stand by it. They might not have “kicked ass” as much as the Vagrants, but they still would have done a more polished job with better singing.

  54. It’s definitely the least derivative. I didn’t vote for it because I get a visceral reaction to psych-puns like “too much to dream,” but it really deserves to win.

  55. bostonhistorian

    I saw my name taken in vain by Mr. Moderator and had to respond . I’m throwing my lot in with Dirty Water, if only for the definitive riff which opens the song on guitar and gets picked up by the organ. Throw in tambourine and harmonica and what more could you possibly want? It’s a deceptively simple song that totals out to more than the sum of its parts.

    I’ve never been a fan of the more psychedelic garage rock sound, which, quite frankly, sounds silly to me–Too Much To Dream relies far too heavily on production over performance.

    I’m puzzled by the idea of regional loyalties playing into this. So far as I can tell, Dirty Water is the only song that’s about a city and I think not liking a song because of its association with the Red Sox is absurd–at least the music folks at Fenway have the good taste to use that song. What song gets played after a victory at your local stadium?

    Any Boston rock fan will choose Jonathan Richman’s “Roadrunner” as the definitive Boston song.

  56. hrrundivbakshi

    Tough call, for weird reasons. I love “Lies” — who couldn’t love that song? But the Electric Prunes are so fucking freaked out. And “Dirty Water” has that punk-ass teenage snarl thing going on, which always pleases me.

    Hmm… gotta go with “Lies.” The fact is, I can listen to that song over and over, and my life would be much poorer in its absence.


  57. “I Had Too Much To Dream” blew me away when I first heard it as a kid and it still does now! Annette Tucker and Nancie Mantz’ song was originally recorded as a country ballad. The Prunes got hold of it and made it THE garage anthem of all time…and, of how many bands can you say that the members are as good guys as they are talented?:)

  58. Good stuff, Sally, and welcome aboard! Do you know the lads?

  59. The reason I like the Vagrants version is that it’s so unpolished and ragged.

  60. Speaking of Mouse and the Traps, I heard another one of their tunes on the Underground Garage Channel yesterday called “Lie, Beg, Borrow & Steal” and thought it was a garage classic. It would have been a much better choice than “Public Execution.”

Lost Password?

twitter facebook youtube