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Album Review

Various Artists
Down Under Nuggets: Original Australian Artyfacts 1965-67 Festival Records

Article written by Ged M - Mar 3, 2013

“We belong to the hot generation/ but do we belong to the civilisations?” sang the Sunsets on their surf-anthem ‘The Hot Generation’. Yes, would be the answer – if by “civilisation” you meant the musical culture exploding pandemic style around the world in the ‘60s. Though the Sunsets were surfing fanatics from Newcastle, New South Wales, they were making the same music as their Californian counterparts despite being at opposite sides of the Pacific Ocean. And as the various Nuggets compilations show, you can find the blooms of garage-rock from Spain to Peru, from Holland to Thailand and also in Melbourne, Sydney and Ballarat.

This fine comp, which pays tribute to Lenny Kaye’s original collection 40 years on, shows that Australia had its share of bands who were inspired by the Beatles, Stones and Kinks (in part the work of UK emigrants) but were developing their own garage sound too. You should know the Easybeats but their ‘Sorry’ is an early example of uncompromising hard-edged powerpop while the Elois’ ‘By My Side’ is a skin-searing fuzz-monster. You may know The Master’s Apprentices’ ‘Wars or Hands of Time’ from other Nuggets comps but their ‘Dead and Buried’ is an awesome flame-out of filthy, fuzzy garage-punk complete with insolent harmonica. Meanwhile, it’s a little hard to believe that the rollocking piano rhythms and grungy feel of ‘Like Nobody Else’ is the Bee Gees!

Like the original Nuggets, some songs are more garage-great than others but the compliers have found plenty of wizards from Oz, including The Throb and their noir-blues ‘Black’, the incomprehensible ‘Krome Plated Gabby’ by the Wild Cherries and the perfect punk-fuzz of The Black Diamonds’ ‘I Want, Need, Love You’. There’s also a sole female garage-rocker here, Toni McCann’s ‘No’ being so wild and untamed that you’d need a licence to own it. Brand ‘Nuggets’ has still got life in it if it keeps uncovering gems like the ones here and, even if you know some of the bands, this is a collection well worth exploring.


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