Los Nuggetz – Various Artists (RockBeat Records)
Here’s a 4-CD collection of rough gems from Latin America, Spain and South America that sums up all that’s great about ‘60s garage rock and roll.
The 101-tracks contain the odd soft drink or car ad and radio station call-sign but for the most part are mostly crudely recorded and sung in Spanish or Portuguese. There’s a fair sprinkling of cover songs (and more on that later) but don’t let that deter you.
Think of “Los Nuggetz” as a Latino version of that earth-shattering box set “Nuggets: Original Artyfacts from the First Psychedelic Era, 1965-1968.” It’s best consumed with a breakfast burrito (heavy on the chilli sauce) and a bottle of tequila (leave the worm in.)
It’s packaged in a booklet with voluminous liner notes that sometimes short on detail, if only because documentary evidence of these bands – other than the actual recordings – has long been lost in the mists of time.
Like the “Nuggets” box, its vinyl predecessor or the many offspring both have spawned, “Los Nuggetz” is great because the bands on it came to the party with unschooled sensibilities and naïve expectations. Some of these recording sessions might be the last or only ones they did before forever being consigned to their country’s bar circuit so of course they gave it their best shot.
In many cases, the bands were aping what they’d heard on records from the USA for local consumption but they just weren’t skilled enough to mimic them note-perfect. The big-name acts wouldn’t tour their countries but their 45s did. These are beat, acid punk, psychedelic and pop songs processed through each band’s own environmental influences and spat back out, largely devoid of production bells and whistles (or production as we know it, for that matter.)
In case you’re wondering, the clean-up/mastering is top drawer.
Los Shains get a few inclusions and kick off with a wonderfully raunchy take on “Woolly Bully”. He might have an Anglicized name but Billy Roberts’ take on “Hey Joe” is less processed than the 150 other cover versions committed to tape with more than a passing nod to Love rather than Hendrix.
Los Shains score bonus points for their “El Tren Pasa Esta Noche” (that’s “Train Kept A-Rollin'“ to most of us) that’s fluid but sonically rawer than the roughest of Yardbirds live tapes. The charm’s in that burred edge rhythm guitar. By contrast, pop diva Gloria Bevenides’ version of “These Boots Are Made For Walkin’” (aka “Esta Bota Son Para Caminar”) is positively groovy pop.
The shadows of the Stones and the Beatles not unexpectedly loom large with snarling versions of “Satisfaction” (Los Apson), “Get Off My Cloud” (Sonia), “19th Nervous Breakdown” (Los Salvajes), “Please Please Me” ( Los Mustang) and “Baby You Can Drive My Car” (Los Tijuana Five) in starkly unpolished evidence. There might well be a message in the inclusion of the Gram Parsons song, “Ya No Hay Beatles (Ain't No Beatle)”, by Los Apson.
The Doors and The Kinks also get a look-in (“Hello, I Love You” by Los Pets from Venezuela is particularly fiery) but don’t get the idea that many of the originals don’t hold their own in this company. Los Cheyennes (Spain), Los Dugs Dugs (Mexico) and Los Yorks (Peru) might be familiar names to garage aficionados. In the end, however, it’s the names you don’t recognise that might pack the sweetest punch.