Various Artists: Where The Action Is! Los Angeles Nuggets 1965-1968

RIYL: Byrds, Beach Boys, Love

One would think that it wouldn’t have taken six volumes before the renowned Nuggets series finally got around to the fertile music scene that dominated Los Angeles in the mid ‘60s. With ample sets devoted to London and San Francisco, and extensive treatment given New York and the Northeast, cynics might perceive Where the Action Is! almost as an afterthought, coming, as it does, this late in the Nuggets progression. Nevertheless, it’s a welcome addition to the canon, given that the ‘60s were practically defined by the folk rock, psychedelia and experimental sounds that echoed through the Southern California canyons, its sprawling suburbs, white, sunny beaches, and the haunts and hangouts on the Sunset Strip. And while the roll call of musicians birthed in those environs encompasses some of the more formidable figures of modern rock and pop, the L.A. scene was also responsible for would-be innovators who etched only a momentary foothold in that innovative era.

This, of course, is where Nuggets has always served its purpose, to bring to light the obscure and unlikely artists that have slipped through the cracks, both the one-hit wonders and early permutations of bands that would ultimately achieve stardom under some later aegis. And in the case of Where The Action Is!, that mission has never been better served. The obvious examples from that era are, of course, well-represented, from Captain Beefheart and the Byrds to the Beach Boys and Buffalo Springfield, while bands like Love, the Seeds and the Turtles, transient teen idols Dino, Desi & Billy, Kim Fowley and Keith Allison, and preposterous pretenders such as Peter Fonda and Noel Harrison also find a good fit. As befitting those heady, innocent days, there are plenty of band brands that give cause for chuckles, given that the psychedelic ‘60s propagated groups with names like the Everpresent Fullness, London Phogg, Farpardokly, Limey & the Yanks, Ken & the Fourth Dimension, the W.C. Fields Memorial Electric String Band and, of course, the Peanut Butter Conspiracy.

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Howlies: Trippin’ With Howlies

Howlies’ bio begins with this description of their music: “an unexpected reinterpretation of garage, doo-wop, and 21st century rock ‘n’ roll.” Bios sometimes try too hard to pimp a band or use unnecessary adjectives, but this particular label, or labels, are spot on. Howlies’ debut, Trippin’ With Howlies, is a 43-plus minute romp of fun and throwback pseudo-psychedelic rock that probably sounds way better live than what producer Kim Fowley and the band were able to capture on tape. This is a band that formed in 2007 in Atlanta, after growing up together in the beach party town of Destin, Florida. Not surprisingly, the boundless energy of four guys just having a good time comes through on this debut, with songs that are equal parts raw and pleasantly addictive. It may not be groundbreaking or even the best thing you’ve heard this year, but with tracks like “Sea Level,” “Howlies Sound” or “Whiskey Night,” the flame of a party should burn on through the night when you pop this one in your player. (LABEL: Over Under Records)

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