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15 November 2021

Lenny Kaye Talks Compiling ‘Nuggets’, Working With Patti Smith

Lenny Kaye and Patti Smith
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Lenny Kaye has spoken to The Guardian about his new book, Lightning Striking; his hugely influential 1972 compilation album, Nuggets; and workign with Patti Smith. The guitarist remembered the early days of playing in The Patti Smith Group, “It was a strange time, because we had just released Horses and it was a weird record… From the start, we had an expansive view of what we could do, so we didn’t fit in to the punk scene. Our music had the spirit and the sense of taking charge of one’s personal growth in a way. That’s still very much the case.”

“When Patti came calling, I was a writer hoping to be a record producer… When she told me what she wanted to do, I had no thought of where it would go. We started out with an idea: Patti would do a poem that we would follow with a song, and that song would flow into another poem. That was it. We had no ambition to be a rock’n’roll band, and thank goodness, because by the time we turned into one, we finally sounded like us. It took us a long time to balance all the elements and coalesce as a group, for the clouds of cosmic dust to become a planet.”

Before his time working with Smith, Lenny Kaye compiled the 1972 compilation, Nuggets: Original Artyfacts from the First Psychedelic Era, a double album of raw garage rock and psychedelic tracks made between 1965 and 1968, originally released on Elektra and including classic songs by The 13th Floor Elevators, The Seeds and The Electric Prunes which single-handedly defined the garage rock genre. Kaye reveals that his original intention was to release it in a series of single albums themed around cities – “the New York garage sound, the LA garage sound and so forth.”

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