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Various Artists 

Children of Nuggets (Rhino)

The first two Nuggets box sets (released in 1998 and 2001) were goldmines of mostly obscure 1960s garage rock that later influenced '70s punk. But the goal of this Nuggets update is to unearth the disparate, '60s-styled misfits of the 1980s. Children was compiled by two British garage-rock historians who predictably lean toward the pop/psychedelic end of the spectrum -- which is odd, since the most lasting revelation of the original Nuggets double-LP (which was curated by Lenny Kaye in 1972 and is the inspiration for these compilations) was the unmasking of the dirty and mostly American "punk" underbelly of the flower-power era.

As usual, there are plenty of worthy shoulda-beens (Real Kids, Big Star) and household names (R.E.M., Go-Gos) absent, probably for monetary or licensing reasons -- and the few early-'90s progeny (Mummies, Teenage Fanclub) offer some good tunes but feel extraneous. In fact, this set belongs mostly to the revivalists, bands of lanky lads who scored the paisley shirts, stripped pants and Vox amps that were plentiful at thrift stores of the day. True spirited practitioners (Flamin' Groovies, Fleshtones, Three O'Clock) and cornball copycats (Plasticland, Miracle Workers, Tell-Tale Hearts) rub Nehru-jacketed shoulders. Grittier punks (DMZ, Nomads, Cynics, Lime Spiders) even punch through, proving it wasn't all about "I'm more Beatles than you."

So what's the verdict? Ultimately, Children of Nuggets works best as much-needed proof that there was a mess of fiery revamped guitar rock in an era that was largely assumed to be devoid of "real" rock & roll.

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More by Eric Davidson

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