More than three years in the making, the most recent installment of Rhino's legendary archival garage-rock series offers an amazingly comprehensive excavation of an absurdly fertile scene. With 101 songs by 99 different artists (the Byrds and Love get two tracks each), most of them culled from original masters, the set's four discs represent four different facets of this sometimes overshadowed corner of mid-'60s pop.
Disc one focuses on the bands who haunted the Sunset Strip: Buffalo Springfield, with their bluegrass-inflected "Go and Say Goodbye"; Captain Beefheart, with his booming call-and-response freak-out "Zig Zag Wanderer"; the Seeds, with their snotty proto-punk "Trip Maker." The second disc ventures further afield into the LA 'burbs, finding the Turtles experimenting with a thrumming, goth-like dirge ("Grim Reaper of Love") and "undisputed kings of Chicano rock" Thee Midniters exhorting one and all to "Jump, Jive & Harmonize."
Disc three focuses on studio-wiz songcraft: Jan & Dean employing a small orchestra for an ode to chewing gum on "Fan Tan"; the unfairly maligned Monkees pioneering the Moog synthesizer on "Daily Nightly"; Lee Hazlewood producing "celebrity son" band Dino, Desi & Billy's "The Rebel Kind." And finally, disc four explores nascent genres like singer-songwriter, psychedelic, and country rock from the likes of Tim Buckley, Harry Nilsson, Randy Newman, Van Dyke Parks, Del Shannon, Warren Zevon, and an actually not-bad Peter Fonda.