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Where the Action Is!: Los Angeles Nuggets 1965-1968

Where the Action Is!: Los Angeles Nuggets 1965-1968 (Rhino)

Reviewed by Austin Powell, Fri., Dec. 11, 2009

Box Sets

Where the Action Is!: Los Angeles Nuggets 1965-1968

(Rhino)

Supplementing its three boxed expansions of 1972's original double LP Nuggets, Rhino's latest treasure trove zooms in on the City of Angels, where counterculture clashes sparked a heat wave of innovative garage rock and a "Riot on Sunset Strip," captured here by the Standells' opening B-movie theme. Where the Action Is! traces the evolution and stylistic confluence of the L.A. scene, overturning no shortage of oft-forgotten gems in the process. Simply put, there's not a runt in the 101-song litter. The collection opens with marquee names lighting the Sunset Strip – Love, Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band, the Byrds, and the Doors – whose impact, particularly the latter two, informs most of what follows. Beyond the City, disc two, moves into the suburbs, where SoCal teenage kicks fused with the British Invasion (the Bush, the Light, the Merry-Go-Round) in 45 rpm one-hit wonders: Humane Society's woozy "Eternal Prison," the Chicano soul of Thee Midniters on "Jump, Jive & Harmonize," and the Chymes' "He's Not There Anymore." The Beach Boys' Pet Sounds production style dominates disc three, The Studio Scene (Jan & Dean, the Full Treatment, the Yellow Balloon), which connects the dots behind the scenes with song machines Lee Hazlewood ("Rainbow Woman") and P.F. Sloan ("Halloween Mary"). While a bit arbitrary to the narrative, the New Directions of disc four gather an assortment of psychedelic hiccups – Warren Zevon's ensemble the Motorcycle Abeline, blistering fuzz guitar reverberating from Randy Newman's "Last Night I Had a Dream," and Harry Nilsson's kaleidoscopic "Sister Marie" – as well as unreleased demos from Stephen Stills and Tim Buckley. Taken as a whole, there's no doubt where the action was.

****

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