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08 October 2022

Lenny Kaye On The 50th Anniversary Of ‘Nuggets’

Lenny Kaye Nuggets
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Lenny Kaye has spoken to The Guardian about the 50th anniversary of his influential garage rock compilation, Nuggets.

Kaye was asked to compile Nuggets: Original Artyfacts from the First Psychedelic Era, 1965-1968 by Jac Holzman, the president of Elektra Records. “My brief was to find tracks that had been left by the wayside or disregarded,” Kaye explains. “But as the project continued it homed in on this concept of capturing a transitional moment in time when rock was moving from singles to rock as art progressivism. I like those areas where things are very blurry and when people haven’t figured out what they’re doing. It’s evolution observed.”

The double album played a huge part in acts including The Seeds, The 13th Floor Elevators, The Chocolate Watchband, The Castaways and The Standells receiving their dues, but it wasn’t an instant success. “It never sold a lot,” says Kaye. “I got an advance of $750 and after some years they sent me a note saying this is never going to generate any royalties so we’re going to stop sending statements.”

A reissue on Sire Records in 1976 gave Nuggets a new lease of life, “It introduced it to a new generation of bands,” Kaye says. “Television started covering the 13th Floor Elevators. Ramones [who later covered the Seeds] had a sensibility of wanting to shorten things and on Nuggets the tracks are very compact.”

Nuggets is due to be reissued as an expanded 5LP set soon. Kaye reflected on its continuing impact, ““The music on it empowered me and gave me encouragement,” he says. “It allowed me to become someone I never dreamed I could be and I’m always happy to see that it helps others. When I go to a bar in Oslo 50 years later and somebody comes up to me and says: ‘Nuggets changed my life’, I say: ‘Thank you. It changed mine as well.’”

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