Song Of The Day 5/31/2015: Mouse & the Traps – “Maid of Sugar, Maid of Spice”

Nuggets Week: Back when I was working in the L.A. music industry, when all us office bees were still enjoying what turned out to be the last gasp of used CDs as record store currency, I traded in a bunch of those perfectly useable albums for a treasure trove of the ultimate CD experience: box sets. I have no idea where they are now, a result of leaving certain personal items behind in a hasty retreat from a certain living situation. And of course now I’ve only too eagerly thrown all my personal music up into what some beady-eyed efficiency novices are calling “the cloud.” But nothing beats driving down Glendale Boulevard listening on the car stereo to a brand new box set you really don’t deserve to have. In 1998, while all this mad fervor was still in effect, my erstwhile, “it’s complicated” life partners Rhino Records put out what’s still my favorite box set of all time: their four-CD reissue and repackaging of Nuggets: Original Artyfacts from the First Psychedelic Era.

The original Nuggets was compiled by Lenny Kaye and released as a two-record set in 1972, a couple of years after bubblegum started getting snapped and turned into chart gold. Nuggets’ objective was to re-inject the original passion of mid–60’s American rock into the sleek formaldehyde of early ’70s pop: two guitars, bass, drums, and lead singers who were committed in all definitions of the word. Kaye’s liner notes included one of the earliest uses of the phrase “punk rock,” and that’s really what it is. “Psychedelia” later went on to define the slightly more flowery, chemically enhanced music of affordable messiahs and their rotating crews of sucklings and bassists. The real Nuggets sound was lean, with a few nods to this consciousness that allegedly was emerging, but firmly rock and roll. It was psychedelia without the elongation or shared bacteria.

Rhino took the original, very very wonderful original Nuggets comp and appended 91 more songs from the general era that shared the aesthetic – like “Louie Louie” – turning it into a box set absolutely nobody had an excuse not to own. The resultant acclaim inspired a bunch more Nuggets-related, multi-CD releases which I also ate up like candy: Nuggets II, which focused on the British Empire, Love Is the Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965–1970 and Where the Action Is! Los Angeles Nuggets 1965–1968. (Also released: Children of Nuggets, which covered post–1975 inheritors of the Nuggets tradition. Julian Cope’s on it. I don’t have this one yet.)

So this week I’m culling selections from the four Nuggets collections I have, plus a couple of tracks that follow the fold but didn’t actually appear on any of the albums. The first one is by Mouse & The Traps from Tyler, Texas. They appeared on Kaye’s original compilation with their song “A Public Execution," which is as blatant a Bob Dylan clone as anyone was allowed to get away with. Not without its charms, but you couldn’t get a more flagrant copy of Dylan if you’d planted his face on a Xerox machine glass. The raucous ”Maid of Sugar, Maid of Spice" is slightly more original, and louder.

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