It wasn't all peace, love, and drugs that made San Francisco the fulcrum of the burgeoning hippie scene in the mid '60s. According to this sprawling 77-track, four-disc set--the third in Rhino's ongoing Nuggets
series--it was the music that nurtured and helped create Haight-Ashbury. This expansive package succeeds in presenting the disparate acts involved in that cultural revolution through a detailed aural exploration. Sure, the usual suspects like the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, Quicksilver Messenger Service, and Janis Joplin are here, but it's the obscurities and oddities--some never previously available and many more extremely difficult to find--that provide intimate glimpses into the crevices, building blocks, and influences of what was later dubbed the "San Francisco Sound." The platters are broken down into rough category/chronological groupings, with disc three focusing on 1967, the Summer of Love whose 40th anniversary this box's release celebrates. Even there, acts such as the Ace of Cups, the Mystery Trend, and the Loading Zone fly way below the radar. There's lots to absorb, even for genre enthusiasts, but compiler Alex Palao's extensive, track-specific liner notes provide concise yet vital contextual background to guide the listener through a wildly diverse landscape that runs from the British Invasion-styled pop of the Beau Brummels and the soft folk of the Youngbloods to the furious garage psychedelia of the Count Five and the eardrum-bursting, proto-metal power rock of Blue Cheer. --Hal Horowitz
Rhino's Love Is The Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-1970 4-CD Box Set Celebrates The 40th Anniversary Of "The Summer Of Love" Forty years ago the world turned its ears toward San Francisco as a wave of talented bands gave birth to the American counterculture. On August 27, Rhino remembers that magical confluence of time and place with LOVE IS THE SONG WE SING: SAN FRANCISCO NUGGETS 1965-1970, a 4-CD box set of classics and rarities from the golden age of Golden State rock. SAN FRANCISCO NUGGETS is the last word on one of popular music's defining regional scenes -- though as scenes go, the music it produced is remarkably diverse. The 77 tracks heard here share little beyond an artistic adventurousness long encouraged in the City by the Bay (which was a magnet for free thinkers from the days of the Beats. Seismic Rumbles, as the first CD of SAN FRANCISCO NUGGETS is subtitled, maps the fault lines separating the pop sounds of the early 1960s from more adventurous rock inspired by the arrival of The Beatles and Bob Dylan. By mid-decade, most of the pieces were in place for what would soon be called "The San Francisco Sound," and Disc 1 features the pre-Grateful Dead group The Warlocks, the original line-up of the Jefferson Airplane, a pre-hit Grass Roots, influential existentialists The Charlatans, and Country Joe & The Fish posing that timeless question "And it's one, two, three, what are we fighting for?"