BEST L.A. HISTORY IN A BOX (2009)

Where the Action Is! Los Angeles Nuggets 1965-1968

The best archival reissues serve dual purposes. First, of course, they uncover music that's disappeared into a hidden corner of the collective unconscious. They bring it to the surface and remind us of a continued relevancy (or explains to us why, exactly, we should forget it). The best ones also tell a story, capture a moment, stake a claim. Where the Action Is! Los Angeles Nuggets 1965-1968 compiles 101 selections of garage, proto-punk, jangle rock and West Coast rock created in L.A. during the explosive period of the mid and late '60s. Over four discs, Rhino curator and executive producer Andrew Sandoval offers a rich selection of guitar rock. Each themed chapter captures a different segment of the city, moving from the Sunset Strip, where the Whisky was the place to be (the Byrds, Love, Buffalo Springfield, the Rising Sons, Captain Beefheart); to East L.A. and the Inland Empire (Thee Midnighters, the Electric Prunes, the W.C. Fields Memorial Electric String Band); the studio scene (Dino, Desi & Billy, the Monkees, Gary Lewis & the Playboys, Lee Hazlewood); and the rising (but not yet established) folk and country rock scene (the Dillards, Tim Buckley, Van Dyke Parks). Combined, Where the Action Is! confidently declares that L.A.'s output during those three years deserves acknowledgment as one of the great overlooked, transformative moments in rock. "There's a consensus that San Francisco was fantastic in the Summer of Love," explained Sandoval last month. "They had the Grateful Dead and Santana and all these other bands. In L.A., there's no consensus. There's a consensus that, yes, the Byrds, and Love, and Captain Beefheart, Buffalo Springfield, the Doors, were famous, but those bands are somewhat known as mainstream bands ... I wanted L.A. to actually, at last, have some respect." He succeeded in grand fashion. Just as important is the package, which features Rhino's typically inspired and comprehensive liner notes and design. We learn about the clubs and the context, the people and the places. At the end, after consuming the book and the songs, you not only have a feel for the music, but the long, complicated narrative that created it.

—Randall Roberts

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