Title: Nuggets from Southern California
Label: Big Beat
It has to be said that some genres of music make better compilations than others and the garage movement is especially good at it.
For two reasons. Firstly, the vast majority of garage compilations are populated by genuinely interesting music. Most derive from groups with brief lives who may have only ever released one or two tracks anyway so you’d never find an album by them. With garage compilations, there’s never a sense of shovelware, that your are being fed ‘tat’. Also, there’s so many ‘lost’ garage tracks out there, you hardly ever get tired retreads.
This single CD compilation is similarly worthy but themes its garage selection in terms of location. In this case Southern California. More than that, Jack and Bill Wenzel’s Downey Records, a label that stemmed from the pair’s music shop in, yes, Downey, California. This 1962-era collection is actually the third collection to appear on the Big Beat imprint
featuring 24 tunes from West Coast rock bands.
There’s a mixture of stereo an mono cuts, roughly half and half. Taking a selection of rock tunes from 1964-1967, you get a wide range on interesting cuts such as the horn-fueled R&B from The Barracudas and the rocking surf from Pat & The Californians. There’s even a dance craze shoe-horned in there courtesy of The Frog sung by Sir Frog (who else?) and the Toads (yes, makes a kind of sense doesn’t it?). For the more guitar-fueled pre-psych eccentricity that this famous state can offer then look no further than the Sunday Group’s Edge of Nowhere, Craig & Michael’s song, Drifty, or indeed the Last Word’s Sleepy Hollow.
It’s the lesser known songs from the garage era that make this compilation both worthy and fascinating.