Times are tight, for sure. A box set is a luxury that few can afford these days. Given the choice between a 4 cd collection and paying the phone bill or buying a bottle of Scotch, well, let's just say you can't download a bottle of Scotch.

But if you're at all curious about the history of the Los Angeles rock scene, the upcoming box Where the Action Is! Los Angeles Nuggets 1965-1968, which comes out on September 22, is an essential document. Comprising 101 songs, the Rhino set concentrates on the shockingly fertile scene, centered around the Sunset Strip, that flourished at the peak of the British Invasion. Among many others getting their start in LA during those three years were the Doors, Randy Newman, the Byrds, Love, Sonny & Cher, Captain Beefheart & his Magic Band, the Seeds, Tim Buckley, and Harry Nilsson.

It's not hyperbole to call this the most comprehensive collection of LA garage rock ever issued. It contains an insanely varied array of three- and four-minute bursts of guitar rock, and sounds amazing while rolling with the sunroof open down Venice Boulevard.

Which isn't to say that Action! contains 101 brilliant moments; half these bands didn't make it to the next level for very good reasons. They didn't have that certain something that, say, Jim Morrison did, didn't understand songwriting like Newman, couldn't sing like Cher, Nilsson or Buckley, and weren't as wildly outre as Captain Beefheart. The Rolling Stones should get royalties for half these riffs, Bob Dylan should have sued a few of these bands, and let's just say that the Beatles were apparently very popular in Los Angeles. But the lesser known acts featured in the box, with stereotypically atypical names like The Lamp of Childhood, Pasternek Progress, The W.C. Fields Memorial Electric String Band, and Hearts & Flowers, retain that spirit of action, and offer amazing context.

The set is divided into four sections: Disc 1, called “On the Strip,” features bands who rose on the thriving Sunset Strip scene, and includes early obscure music from The Byrds, Love, the Seeds, and Lowell George & the Factory (the singer of whom would later become Little Feat, and help birth daughter Inara George of the Bird & the Bee). Disc 2, “The Studio Scene,” concentrates on the hit factories around town that sought to temper the sound of the streets for a mainstream audience (The Monkees, Dino Desi & Billy, the Mamas and the Papas and Jan & Dean).

The third disc, “Beyond the City,” looks outside the city's border to the Inland Empire and OC, and uncovers the Turtles, Thee Midnighters, Kim Fowley, and the Humane Society, among others. “New Directions”, disc 4, closes out the set with 25 songs, many with a country twang to them. These are the seeds of the city's country rock movement, which immediately followed the guitar explosion of the 1960s. Disc four alone is worth the price of the box, and includes early work by Stephen Stills & Richie Furay, Jackie DeShannon with the Byrds (the great “Splendor in the Grass”), Van Dyke Parks, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Del Shannon and Randy Newman.

For more information on Where the Action Is! Los Angeles Nuggets 1965-1968, venture to Rhino's website.

There are apparently events in the works to celebrate the release of this seminal collection. We'll keep you posted.


Track Listing

Disc 1: On The Strip

“Riot On Sunset Strip” – The Standells

“You Movin'” – The Byrds

“You I'll Be Following” – Love

“Dr. Stone” – The Leaves

“Go And Say Goodbye” – Buffalo Springfield

“Zig Zag Wanderer” – Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band

“Gentle As It May Seem” – Iron Butterfly

“Candy Cane Madness” – Lowell George & The Factory

“If You Want This Love” – The West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band

“Baby My Heart” – The Bobby Fuller Four

“All Night Long” – The Palace Guard

“It's Gonna Rain” – Sonny & Cher

“For My Own” – The Guilloteens

“Take A Giant Step” – The Rising Sons

“One Too Many Mornings” – The Association

“Time Waits For No One” – The Knack

“Take It As It Comes” – The Doors

“Pulsating Dream” – Kaleidoscope

“Tripmaker” – The Seeds

“The People In Me” – The Music Machine

“Saturday's Son” – The Sons Of Adam

“Eventually” – The Peanut Butter Conspiracy

“Swim” – Penny Arkade

“The Third Eye” – The Joint Effort

“Girl In Your Eye” – Spirit

Disc 2: Beyond The City

“Jump, Jive & Harmonize” – Thee Midniters

“Back Up – The Light

“To Die Alone” – The Bush

“Get On This Plane” – The Premiers

“Little Girl, Little Boy” – The Odyssey

“Hideaway” – The Electric Prunes

“Listen, Listen!” – The Merry-Go-Round

“She Done Moved” – The Spats

“Grim Reaper Of Love” – The Turtles

“See If I Care” – Ken & The Fourth Dimension

“He's Not There Anymore” – The Chymes

“Back Seat '38 Dodge” – Opus 1

“Eternal Prison” – The Humane Society

“Revenge” – The Others

“Come Alive” – Things To Come

“Acid Head” – The Velvet Illusions

“Guaranteed Love” – Limey & The Yanks

“Love's The Thing” – The Romancers (aka The Smoke Rings)

“Underground Lady” – Kim Fowley

“Pretty Little Thing” – The Deepest Blue

“You're Wishin' I Was Someone Else” – The Whatt Four

“Hippy Elevator Operator” – The W.C. Fields Memorial Electric String Band

“That's For Sure” – The Mustangs

“Tomorrow's Girl” – Fapardokly (Merrell & The Exiles)

“Everything's There” – The Hysterics

“Our Time Is Running Out” – The Yellow Payges

Disc 3: The Studio Scene

“Action, Action, Action” – Keith Allison

“The Rebel Kind” – Dino, Desi & Billy

“High On Love” – The Knickerbockers

“Fan Tan” – Jan & Dean

“Halloween Mary” – P.F. Sloan

“Somebody Groovy” – The Mamas & The Papas

“Daydreaming” – Thorinshield

“Just Can't Wait” – The Full Treatment

“Yellow Balloon” – The Yellow Balloon

“The Times To Come” – London Phogg

“No More Running Around” – The Lamp Of Childhood

“Little Girl Lost-And-Found” – The Garden Club

“Mothers And Fathers” – The Moon

“My Girlfriend Is A Witch” – October Country

“Montage Mirror” – Roger Nichols Trio

“Flower Eyes” – Pasternak Progress

“Come Down” – The Common Cold

“Jill” – Gary Lewis & The Playboys

“Daily Nightly” – The Monkees

“Night Time Girl” – Modern Folk Quintet

“Don't Say No” – The Oracle

“Tin Angel (Will You Ever Come Down)” – Hearts And Flowers

“Rainbow Woman” – Lee Hazlewood

“Poor Old Organ Grinder” – Pleasure featuring Billy Elder

“Baby, Please Don't Go” – The Ballroom

Disc 4: New Directions

“Sit Down I Think I Love You” – Stephen Stills & Richie Furay*

“Splendor In The Grass” – Jackie DeShannon with The Byrds

“November Night” – Peter Fonda

“Roses And Rainbows” – Danny Hutton

“Lemon Chimes” – The Dillards

“Here's Today” – The Rose Garden

“I Love How You Love Me” – Nino Tempo & April Stevens

“Words” (Demo) – Tommy Boyce & Bobby Hart*

“(You Used To) Ride So High” – The Motorcycle Abeline (Warren Zevon & Bones Howe)

“Los Angeles” – Gene Clark

“Once Upon A Time” – Tim Buckley*

“Darlin' You Can Count On Me” – The Everpresent Fullness

“I'll Search The Sky” – The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band

“Come To The Sunshine” – Van Dyke Parks

“Heroes And Villains” (Alternate Take) – The Beach Boys

“She Sang Hymns Out Of Tune” – Jesse Lee Kincaid

“Sister Marie” – Nilsson

“Last Night I Had A Dream” (Single Version) – Randy Newman

“Life Is A Dream” – Noel Harrison

“Marshmallow Skies” – Rick Nelson

“I Think I Love You” – Del Shannon

“Change Is Now” – The Byrds

“The Truth Is Not Real” (Single Version) – Sagittarius

“You Set The Scene” – Love

“Inner-Manipulations” – Barry McGuire

*Previously unreleased

LA Weekly