Various Artists(5)

Love Is the Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965 – 1970 [Rhino]

It isn’t surprising that someone would release a box set commemorating the 40th anniversary of the Summer of Love. Rather than simply repackaging the same psychedelic songs easily available on myriad anthologies, however, Rhino chose music ranging from major hits to obscurities by bands that never even attained “one-hit-wonder” status. Bookended by Dino Valenti’s “Let’s Get Together” and the Youngbloods’ classic variation “Get Together,” the 77 Bay Area bong songs on this quartet of themed discs span the earliest incarnations of the San Francisco sound (Seismic Rumbles), artists from nearby areas (Suburbia), songs from around ’67 (Summer of Love), and the culmination of the ’60s psychedelic oeuvre (The Man Can’t Bust Our Music).

In addition to ample examples of songs by Jefferson Airplane, Santana, the Grateful Dead, Quicksilver Messenger Service, and other San Francisco staples, there are many gems from second-tier groups such as Count Five (“Psychotic Reaction”), the Beau Brummels (“Two Days ’Till Tomorrow”), the Mystery Trend (“Carl Stree”), the Sons of Champlin (“Fat City”), Syndicate of Sound (“Rumors”), and the Chocolate Watch Band (“No Way Out”). But some of the best tunes—particularly from a guitar perspective—are by the virtual unknowns. Examples include Front Line’s super-fuzzed “Got Love,” the tremolo-verb-reverse-fuzz sounds on Mourning Reign’s “Foolish Woman,” the fiery riffing and sustained lead lines on Public Nuisance’s “America,” and the whack vibrato-arm madness on Frumious Bandersnatch’s “Hearts to Cry.” Put this in your pipe and smoke it.