Nuggets: The Original Artyfacts/Down Under Nuggets/Antipodean Interpolations

A legendary garage-rock compilation has been given a new lease on life by some of Australia’s best young acts, writes CHRIS FAMILTON.

Lenny Kaye compiled the seminal garage/punk-rock collection Nuggets 40 years ago, and to mark the anniversary two new compilations have been released to celebrate the equivalent Australian scenes in the late-’60s and today.

Nuggets: Antipodean Interpolations of the First Psychedelic Era, 1965-1968 is the closest you’ll come to a snapshot of the always fertile and currently blossoming garage-rock scene in Australia. The companion release, Down Under Nuggets: Original Australian Artyfacts 1965-1967, collects similarly unhinged and loose limbed garage-punk tracks from the likes of The Missing Links, The Easybeats and Bee Gees and gives a great overview of the era.

On Antipodean Interpolations some acts have chosen to replicate the original recordings while others have sought to lay down new interpretations imbued with their own character and sonic imprint. More often than not the boldest diversions reap the greatest rewards. The widest swerve is taken by Melbourne’s Baptism of Uzi who lay down an incessant Krautrock groove on ‘Baby, Please Don’t Go’ and smear it in tense kosmische psychedelia that pushes and pulls the track in and out of The Amboy Dukes orbit for a solid and mesmerising eight minutes.

In a number of cases songs that didn’t particularly standout on the original collection are given a new lease of life. The Frowning Clouds give ‘Let’s Take About Girls’ a tough-edged yet eminently melodic makeover that elevates it above album filler, while Eagle and The Worm clean up ‘An Invitation To Cry’ and invest some angst and drama that the original lacks. Mouse’s ‘A Public Execution’ was always a complete Dylan rip-off and Love Migrate wisely shift it into a nervy beat shuffle. Similarly, Davey Lane rescues ‘Moulty’ from its near novelty song status by adding some sneer to the chorus and cheekily throwing in a snatch of The Ramones’ ‘Do You Remember Rock n Roll Radio?’.

“In a number of cases songs that didn’t particularly standout on the original collection are given a new lease of life.”

The Murlocs have the Nuggets sound down pat. Rough, raw, rollicking and with plenty of snarl and swagger, their version of Count Five’s classic ‘Psychotic Reaction’ is one of the highlights of the Antipodean tribute. King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard do similar things to The Nazz’s ‘Open My Eyes’ but their take has more of a punk edge, less garage and more open highway. Elsewhere The Laurels overcome a pallid start on their version of ‘You’re Gonna Miss Me’ to totally own it and end up sounding like a primitive Hoodoo Gurus.

There are a handful of tracks that just don’t work though. The closer ‘Farmer John’ is a garage rock staple but Bloods butcher it with a shrill and thin version that lacks any of the original’s boogie stomp. ‘Oh Yeah’ by Living Eyes is another that sounds more like a piss-take than a homage while The Palms sound flat and devoid of the spark that is required for The Remains’ ‘Don’t Look Back’.

There is real gold scattered throughout the _ Down Under Nuggets_ set, particularly The Atlantics’ ‘Come On’ which rocks and rolls with edgy energy, the hook-laden gem that is The D-Coys ‘Bad Times’ and a stunning never-before-heard extended version of The Sunsets’ ‘The Hot Generation’ with its MC5-styled testifying.

Now all we need to complete the circle is for the Antipodean Interpolations acts to also cover these Australian originals on a follow-up release.