For those music aficionados who spent their formative years in the 1960’s, the radio airwaves were filled with the sounds of psychedelic pop tunes that seemed magical, as well as mystical. One-hit wonders from the garage groups of the era like The Shadows of Knight, The Knickerbockers, The Strawberry Alarm Clock and The Castaways abounded. In the early 70’s , Elektra Records founder Jac Holzman and Patti Smith Group bassist Lenny Kaye, put together a compilation vinyl record album of 27 of those songs , they called Nuggets that was followed by numerous reissues and ultimately a 15-CD series on the Rhino label.
To help mark the upcoming 40th anniversary of the set, the group now known as Symphony for the Devils (comprised of Lenny Kaye, Tony Shanahan, and Jay Dee Daugherty of Patti Smith’s band, Jack Petruzelli of the Fab Faux and Glen Burtnik of Styx fame) got together to pay a musical tribute to a thrilled house of garage rock devotees that surprisingly had a diversity of age groups in attendance. When asked how the 30 song set list was put together, Lenny Kaye told Elmore that “we all chose our favorite Nugget and we just went for it. It was a no brainer, ‘cause we’re all buddies”. Joan Osborne told us that she did “one rehearsal of about 30 minutes, as “the songs are not super complicated musically” and there was a “certain looseness that’s allowed because it’s garage rock”.
The 30 song set began with Marshall Crenshaw handling vocals on The Electric Prunes’ “I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night)” and then Glen Burtnik deftly recreated the dreamy psychedelic keyboard riffs and vocals on The Amboy Dukes classic “Journey to the Center of The Mind”.
Special guest musicians were called upon to add to the musical mix, including Peppy Castro of The Blues Magoos, who sounded timeless on “(We Aint’Got) Nothin Yet” and there were powerful vocals from Joan Osborne, who more than did justice to The Standells’ “Dirty Water”, The Outsiders’ “Time Won’t Let Me” and The Music Explosions’ “Little Bit O’ Soul”. There are more Nuggets 40th anniversary shows being planned, so get your flower power back by getting to experience one of them in person.
-Howard B. Leibowitz