Various Artists – Where the Action Is: Los Angeles Nuggets 1965-1968

January 01, 1970



The ‘60s L.A. scene has long
been a red-headed stepchild to the psychedelic explosion in San
Francisco and the folk renaissance in New York. While L.A. Nuggets won’t make anyone forget about those scenes, it does make
a strong case for L.A.’s importance in its own
right, while showing how the music of the ‘60s led to the cocaine-fueled soft
rock now commonly referred to as “the L.A.


The set is divided into a four discs covering Hollywood bands, suburban bands, studio stars and the
introduction of country and psychedelia. Like 2007’s San Francisco Nuggets it mixes huge names like
Buffalo Springfield and the Mamas & the Papas with both lame imitators and
unknowns that, for one song at least, were equal to the superstars. Perhaps no
band hangs over this set as much as The Byrds, who appear twice themselves and
many more times in the chiming 12-strings and harmonies of their peers. Summing
up the journey the set chronicles is Love, whose first entry, “You I’ll Be
Following,” is a Byrds imitation, albeit a very good one. A year later, they
made “You Set the Scene,” a nine-minute psych-folk-orchestral masterpiece. The
development of other artists is also apparent, from The Motorcycle Abilene,
which featured a young Warren Zevon to the set’s most surprising track, “Last
Night I Had a Dream,” a blast of garage rock from Randy Newman (yes, that Randy Newman).


Nuggets compilers
often describe their sets as alternative histories of music. This set won’t
rewrite the history books – many of the best tracks are by the biggest names – but
it is a great listen and, with a beautifully-annotated coffee table book, a
must-have for anyone interested in ‘60s music and the roots of many of today’s


“You Set the Scene” (Love), “Jump Jive & Harmonize”
(Thee Midniters) HAL BIENSTOCK


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