Aug 192011

Side 3

Count Five: “Psychotic Reaction”

The Leaves: “Hey Joe”

Michael and the Messengers: “Romeo & Juliet”

The Cryan’ Shames: “Sugar and Spice”

The Amboy Dukes: “Baby Please Don’t Go”

Blues Magoos: “Tobacco Road”

BONUS PERFORMANCES…after the jump!


  20 Responses to “Once and for All: Round 1, Rock Town Hall Determines the Best Song on Side 3 of the Original Nuggets Compilation”

  1. tonyola

    Messengers – The Reflections’ original version of “Romeo and Juliet” is far better than this energetic but uninspired standard “beat group” effort.

    Blues Magoos – What? No “We Ain’t Got Nothing Yet”? This version of “Tobacco Road” is only distinguished by the freakout break.

    Amboy Dukes – What? No “Journey to the Center of the Mind”? This version of “Baby Please Don’t Go” is only distinguished by the Nuge’s guitar.

    Cryan’ Shames – Is this too poppy and happy for Nuggets? Decent song but not a sneer in sight.

    The Leaves – I came close to voting for this version of “Hey Joe” simply because it’s so deranged compared to the later Tim Rose and Hendrix versions. Pretty wild stuff for 1965, but it’s not the best song on this side. That distinction goes to…

    Count Five – “Psychotic Reaction” is another song that that exemplifies of what Nuggets is about. Starts off pretty tame (though with a nice fuzz guitar lick), but things pick up with the drum break and the scream “and it feels like this!” before crashing into a Yardbirds-inspired rave up. OK, so it’s not terribly original but it’s nervy and full of attitude. It also inspired what might be Lester Bangs’ greatest writing – “Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung”. My vote goes here.

  2. pudman13

    OK….as you may all well know, generally side three is the experimental one on double albums, the one where you hide your weirdo ideas or decide to freak out. Two songs fit this pattern here, and they are wonderful in context. Regardless, this is by far the most erratic side in terms of style and quality, with two songs that really hurt the overall vibe. My take on it:

    Cryan Shames: I may be an unapologetic pop/power pop fan, but this is the most annoying, cloying “pop” song I’ve ever heard and the vocals make me want to kill someone. I’m not the kind of guy who ever skips songs when I listen to albums, but I used to skip this. I hate, hate, hate it. And it’s even more offensive when you consider how many great lost pop songs Kaye could have chosen instead.

    Michael & The Messengers. Kaye was trying to make a point, that a lot of garage bands were all about covering hits of the day, but we really don’t need to hear it. A waste of a track.

    Leaves: Hey Joe. Some people like the fast version(s) of this song best, and there’s an enjoyable wild energy here, but I think I still like the Tim Rose/Jimi Hendrix/Music Machine slower variations better. That’s not to say this isn’t great–it is. And it’s sure a lot better than the awful Byrds take on it.

    Blues Magoos. Here’s the perfect album track—a great example of the kind of freakout bands could do without any actual chops to speak of, and I think it’s great and wonderfully unhinged, but only in the context of a bunch of shorter, more concise songs. The song itself is one that was always “OK” to me…so I prefer hearing this deconstruction to the more straightforward Nashville Teens take.

    Amboy Dukes. Man, this is great…and the perfect side three freakout. Ted Nugent’s politics may be awful, but he sure could play, and I think this is still his finest moment. But…as with “Tobacco Road,” it’s an album track. When I bought the first Amboy Dukes album and saw that his was the first track and not, say, second from the last on side two, I knew I was in trouble (and I was–the album sucks.) They’re a typically disappointing band when you look at their total ouevre, but with this and “Journey,” they deserve a place in history.

    Count Five. Kind of a close call here, but “Psychotic Reaction” gets the nod. It’s another perfect acid punk song, just as iconic as “I Had Too Much To Dream Last Night.” I find their album pretty blah (some people love it), but this is the kind of song that made me want to investigate the entire genre. It also manages to so some of what the Magoos do here but in a more concise manner. The model for “Whole Lotta Love?”

  3. mockcarr

    Yeah, this side confused me given the way those “volumes” were put out later, I would have thought the Amboy Dukes and Blues Magoos numbers would be different.

    Psychotic Reaction has a great strutting riff going, and then the obligaotry freaky break but with that somehow consistently rushed drum fill. I bet you could do a really cool magic act while they’re vamping on this. I agree this is quintessential nuggetry if there is such a thing.

    The Leaves put up a contender, I really like the Chris Hillman/Byrdsy bass brought forward, but that guitar peal gets old fast. Did they release the song first? That messy fat middle is cool. I know it’s picky, but where’s the damned chorus? Demerits for that folkiness, sadly.

    Romeo and Juliet rides pretty nicely on that organ, I’m not all that familiar with the other versions of this, but it seems like a good bubblegum factory kind of effort, and which is not an insult. I don’t know if there’s enough here to make it stand out though.

    Sugar and Spice irritates me. I get an image of Lawrence Welk’s band playing this arrangement note for note, introducing it as “beat musik fur der kidz”. Erm, no.

    Baby Please Don’t Go is just a solid blues cover, something the better suited to the Yardbirds or Who than this version. In fact that third rock from the sun reference or whichever Hendrix song the solo references makes me wonder if this is just a pastiche by Nugent. Big deal.

    Tobacco Road is another bluesy song with organ added. So what. Not enough menace, hilarity, insanity, something. Maybe this is where my ears are full of nuggets and I stop hearing the songs properly. Too many notes.

  4. hrrundivbakshi

    Come ON! This one is dead easy.

    Tobacco Road is boring.

    Baby Please Don’t Go is boring.

    Sugar and Spice is idiotic, and not in a good way. Who on Earth decided this was “garage”?

    Romeo and Juliet is irritating.

    Hey Joe is okay, but it’s been done better many times.

    The CLEAR winner — and a big winner at that, a truly fine garage/punk/psych/freakout number, is “Psychotic Reaction.” The opening riff is killer, the drum entrance is cool, the song grooves along with authority, and then of course there’s that instantly memorable burst of insanity in the middle there. I actually found myself wanting to hear the entire song — something I couldn’t say about any of the others in this contest.

    I have spoken.


  5. BigSteve

    One thing side 3 really beings into focus is the disproportionate influence of the Yardbirds on these bands. I mean, I had a copy of Having a Rave-Up with the Yardbirds back then too, but I didn’t think it was the be-all and end-all. Psychotic Reaction is kind of the obvious choice here, but I’m going to have a hard time voting for it due to its derivativeness. This came up in reference to Public Execution, but there once you get past the Dylanisms you can hear Mouse bringing some Texas twang to the song (not having heard it in a long time, it actually reminded me of the Memphis band the Hombres’ Let It All Hang Out). But with Psychotic Reaction it’s like there’s nothing there except the Yardbirds. Nice rhythm guitar though.

  6. cliff sovinsanity

    Despite my Motor City allegiance to the Amboy Dukes and much as I like The Leaves’ Hey Joe, the clear winner is Psychotic Reaction. It simply towers over the collection of covers and freak outs on side 3. As I mentioned before, if Journey To Center of The Mind had been selected instead of Baby Please Don’t Go, I would have put a hole in the wall after repeated headbanging trying to pick between that one and Psychotic Reaction. My gut tells me Psychotic Reaction is going to win the whole enchilada.

  7. Sugar and Spice – Yikes!

    Tobacco Road – Snooze

    Baby Please Don’t Go – I hadn’t listened to this in a while. About 1 minute into it I thought, “Maybe I like this song more that my distain of the Nuge will allow me to admit.” Then, after several more minutes of pointless noodling, I thought, “Nope, this version bites it.” I’ll bet if you were there at the time, they were great to see live.

    Romeo and Juliet – It’s not strong enough to be the winner but I really like this song and this version. Could have been mixed better though.

    Hey Joe – This is my favorite version of this song (yes I like it more than Hendrix, who’s version I find a bit boring). I love the unhinged vocals. A strong contender, but alas, not strong enough to stand up to…

    Psychotic Reaction – The clear winner. Even if we were considering all of the songs on the 4 disc set, it would come down to either this or Too Much To Dream for my pick for Best In Show. They’re probably not my favorite tracks on the box set, but they are definitely the most Nugget-y.

  8. Psychotic Reaction is up there with Satisfaction for influencce on young me. I am thrilled to see it blowing away the competition.

  9. I’m a big R&J fan but it is not I Wonder What You’re doing Tonight.

  10. 2000 Man

    I htink that’s exactly what I was gonna sa. I figure Psychotic Reaction might get my final vote, too. It’s amazing how The Ducheiness of The Nuge can stretch back decades, altering history and changing every moment where he appeared not to be a douche into yet another money where he was just a douche after all.

  11. BTW, I can’t stand any Hey Joe but the Hendrix version. One more example of the Genius of Jimi.

  12. tonyola

    Are you referring to the Boyce & Hart song “I Wonder What She’s Doing Tonight”?

    A sublimely wonderful slice of late ’60s pop cheese. Not Nuggety but still fun.

  13. My vote goes to the Amboy Dukes… “Baby Please Don’t Go” has the feel of a great concert closer. I’ve always had a little attitude towards “Psychotic Reaction” (rightly or wrongly) because it sounded like a Yardbirds rip-off.

  14. Yes, I love that song, It’s as garage as Romeo & Juliet.

  15. machinery

    Psychotic reaction. But by a dint of luck. Although I do dig Baby Please Don’t go,had it gone up against the Amboy Dukes’ “Journey to the Center of my mind” I woulda voted differently.

  16. The covers/jamming side. No to “Sugar and Spice” and “Hey Joe”. Others beat me to the fact that the Dukes should be represented by “Journey to the Center of the Mind”.

    I really like this version of “Romeo & Juliet” with it’s garage party vox and handclaps. I especially like the part where all of the instruments fall out except for the vox and handclaps!

    “Tobacco Road” is the best instrumental solo freak-out anywhere on the set. Just when every other band would bring it back the vocalist starts shouting jibberish and the organist just pounds away at it for a few more minutes. Coulda been a contender.

    But “Psychotic Reaction” it is. Agree with everything said so far plus 5 guys in capes makes it showtime!

  17. Psychotic Reaction all the way! It might follow a Yardbirds template, but the singer kicks Keith Relf’s ass. Most Nuggety of Nuggets.

  18. Man, this one really is a runaway.

  19. BigSteve

    I agree about Romeo & Juliet, k. I almost voted for this one just on the basis of the part you’re talking about. The singer really goes for it bringing the song out of the middle eight and into that keychange. He seized the moment.

    But I couldn’t bring myself to vote for Psychotic Reaction. It’s admittedly iconic, but I’m sorry it’s just over-rated. I’m being contrary and voting for Hey Joe.

  20. The Leaves version of “Hey Joe” is my favorite version of that song because it’s so psychotic, but “Psychotic Reaction” is my favorite garage song ever. No surprise that this is a runaway.

    I don’t mind “Sugar and Spice,” but I think the Searchers did it better.

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