Thursday 25 April 2024

Lenny Kaye & Friends play Nuggets at The 100 Club London, Thursday April 4th 2024

Lenny Kaye with Marty Love on drums
Lenny Kaye, the New York based musical historian, journalist, author and of course, guitarist with the Patti Smith Group for an impressive 50 years, has another equally impressive entry on his CV, and that’s as the compiler of what must be one of the most influential albums of all time. "Nuggets: Original Artyfacts from the First Psychedelic Era, 1965–1968" released on Elektra Records in 1972, was Lenny’s painstaking labour of love, a compilation of obscure 60's American Garage Rock and Psych bands. Often these teen trash bands were one local hit wonders that might have only just made it out from their garage rehearsal to a nearby recording studio or High School gig before disappearing from view for good. However, some of the featured bands would end up clicking with lovers of raw power Rock ‘n Roll for generations to follow. The Seeds, The Sonics and The Music Machine to name but three, inspired countless Garage Punk bands all over the world. The influence of the California based Love in particular, would resonant hugely with the city of Liverpool, not just back in the 80’s with Liverpudlian Post Punk bands such as Echo & The Bunnymen and The Teardrop Explodes but on into the 90’s when songwriting genius Mick Head’s Shack ended up as Arthur Lee’s backing band on his UK tour and then later still with local bands such as The Coral. Well over half the bands I've featured on Retro Man Blog and Retrosonic Podcast owe a huge debt to Nuggets in some way or other - just check out some of our favourite contemporary acts from all over the globe such as Las Aspiradoras from Spain, The Satelliters from Germany, The Hangees from Sardinia, Vic & The Sect from Mexico, Frowning Clouds from Australia, Stompin’ Riff Raffs from Japan and The In-Fuzzed from France are just some great examples.
Lenny Kaye with Jim Jones

Lenny Kaye with Jon King from Gang of Four

Lenny with Moana Santana & Helene de Joie
Lenny decided to play some shows in America to celebrate the belated 50th anniversary of the release of “Nuggets”, gathering together a stellar cast of musicians such as Peter Buck from R.E.M., Peter Zaremba from The Fleshtones, Kathy Valentine from The Go-Go's along with surviving members of some of the original bands like The Seeds, The Electric Prunes, The Leaves, The Chocolate Watchband and Johnny Echols of Love. Then came the announcement of a London show and Lenny, together with promoter Joe De Lorenzo, assembled an equally impressive Transatlantic cast for a night at the legendary 100 Club on Thursday April 4th. Due to the huge demand, a second date on Friday 5th was quickly added and that too sold out in lightning time, so we were grateful for the quick action in securing tickets for the Thursday, it was something I just could not have missed as the line-up looked amazing. Lenny took centre stage on guitar and vocals and it struck me that it looks like he's barely changed over the years, he’s relaxed and cheerful and looks genuinely chuffed to bits to be able to share his passion for good time Rock & Roll with us. There’s a core band backing Lenny, featuring bassist Dave Treganna of Sham 69 and Lords of The New Church, Jim Jones of Thee Hypnotics and Jim Jones All Stars on guitars and vocals, drumming duties were shared between Rat Scabies of The Damned and Marty Love of Wingmen and the Johnny Moped Band. The other ever presents were Derek Cruz from the Jesse Malin band on Guitars, Harmonica and Percussion and Greg Rice on the keyboards who both did a superb job considering they were in for the long haul. 

Lenny Kaye with Cheetah Chrome of The Dead Boys

Rat Scabies of The Damned

Lenny with Clive Jackson from Dr & The Medics

Various special guest vocalists joined in the fun - Clive 'The Doctor' Jackson of Dr. & The Medics, Jon King from Gang of Four, Alan Clayton of The Dirty Strangers, Peter Coyne of The Godfathers and Anita Chellamah from Cherry Bombz. They were joined buy the UK based New Yorker Roxanne Fontana and the New York based Amanda Cross who both have new records of their own out now. Then we had the guest guitarists, Cheetah Chrome from CBGB's legends Dead Boys, Japanese guitarist Tsuyoshi Kitagawa otherwise known as Go Ohgami, Brian James of The Damned, Billy Shinbone from The Sinclairs and Guy Griffin of The Quireboys. If that wasn't enough, former Clash compatriot DJ Barry 'Scratchy' Myers warmed up the crowd perfectly and Go-Go dancers Moana Santana and Helene de Joie provided some suitably 60's style atmosphere. We certainly got our ticket money's worth. The only disappointment was that Dave Vanian, Paul Gray and Captain Sensible of The Damned had to pull out as did Deb O'Nair, the original organ player with The Fuzztones. It was a big shame as both bands were pivotal in introducing me to Nuggets and The Fuzztones classic "Lysergic Emanations" is still one of my all-time favourites albums. I was hoping that we would see half of Naz Nomad reunited along with that classic Black Album/Strawberries (and praise be, also the current…) line-up of The Damned.

Cheetah Chrome of The Dead Boys

Rat Scabies, Jim Jones, Helene de Joie & Derek Cruz

Lenny with Alan Clayton of Dirty Strangers

Personally, I first got drawn to 60’s Nuggets mainly thanks to The Damned’s alter-ego Naz Nomad & The Nightmares and their soundtrack to an imaginary Swinging 60’s teen exploitation movie “Give Daddy the Knife Cindy”, which featured covers of prime Nuggets material. The 60's Garage Psych influence on the Damned’s superb "Strawberries" album was apparent and in the mid-80’s I could see The Fuzztones and Dr & The Medics thanks to The Damned inviting them on tour as support bands. Around that time, I also saw Australia's Scientists and Hoodoo Gurus and lapped up the Trash scene of the Klub Foot at The Clarendon in Hammersmith where The Prisoners with their Hammond organ (pretty rare at the time) conjured up not only Small Faces but Question Mark & The Mysterians iconic "96 Tears". The Tall Boys, Milkshakes, and my favourites The Playn Jayn, all mined the 60's Garage Rock and Psych sound and 1984-86 was an absolute blast of groovy sounds, yeah baby! In fact, I interviewed Dr & The Medics for my fanzine Out of Step just before they themselves became one-hit wonders and topped the charts with the now ubiquitous "Spirit in the Sky". However, before this brush with the mainstream, they were a pretty cool band, a superb live act and were responsible for running the Alice in Wonderland nightclub in London. Check out their early releases and demos, they are well worth a listen. But the disappointment of Dave, Paul, the Captain, and Deb not being able to make it was soon put to one side when you consider the quality of the assembled special guests who did appear.

Dave Treganna of Sham 69, The Doctor & Moana Santana

Peter Coyne of The Godfathers, Rat Scabies, Jim Jones & Derek Cruz

Lenny with Rat Scabies

In an immense set that stretched to well over two hours, the packed out 100 Club crowd were treated to an astonishing 33 songs including such Nuggets classics as “Dirty Water”, “Little Red Book”, “Sometimes Good Guys Don’t Wear White”, “Pushing Too Hard”, “The Witch” and “Strychnine” , “Action Woman”, “Nobody But Me”, “You’re Gonna Miss Me”, “Wooly Bully” and of course “Louie Louie”. Lenny also made the decision to include some non-Nuggets crowd favourites to suit the guests and keep it varied and there were so many highlights, it’s hard and probably a bit unfair to pick out specific moments. But if pushed I must mention Peter Coyne’s visceral attack on The Creation’s “How Does It Feel To Feel” which took me back to the blistering early days of The Godfathers. Billy Shinbone’s extraordinary guitar wig-out on Pink Floyd’s “Interstellar Overdrive” even had Lenny staring open-mouthed in awe. Roxanne Fontana in a fetching mask and outfit took on Velvet Underground’s “Venus In Furs” and Alan Clayton’s Bluesy swagger on the Small Faces “Whatcha Gonna Do About It” was ace. Amanda Cross put in a stunning performance of Bo Diddley’s “Roadrunner” and Jim Jones in bug-eyed shades was the epitome of Rock ‘n’ Roll cool personified and his version of “99th Floor” by The Moving Sidewalks was superb.

Dave Treganna, Roxanne Fontana, Marty Love & Lenny Kaye

Anita Chellamah & Helen de Joie

Lenny Kaye with Clive Jackson of Dr & The Medics


The Doctor took to the stage to croon through Love’s “My Little Red Book” and The Sonics “Strychnine”, which saw the crowd going crazy. Then there was Lenny Kaye’s own obscure Nugget, a great Garage Country Rock track “Crazy Like A Fox” from his pre-Patti Smith days in Link Cromwell & The Zoo. Everyone played their part – credit to Dave Treganna on bass as he had to play on all the songs throughout the evening and he kept everything ticking over perfectly. Behind the drums, Rat Scabies was immense as was Martin ‘Marty Love’ Parrott from Wingmen, another one of our favourite surprise collaborations. Things got wild towards the end of the set with the introduction of Cheetah Chrome from The Dead Boys and Brian James of The Damned – and they powered their way through MC5’s “Looking At You” and “Kick Out The Jams” before Lenny took off his shirt and announced “I’m gonna do this Iggy style” and I unconsciously sucked my stomach in as he was so fit and lean, putting me to shame, he looks amazing for 77! The familiar guitar riff to “I Wanna Be Your Dog” started off, and in true Iggy style, Lenny dives headlong off the stage for some crowd-surfing action, it’s a great moment. For the last song, all the special guests take to the stage for a massive singalong of “Gloria” and it’s over. What an amazing night, this will live long in the memory for sure. Massive congratulations to Joe De Lorenzo and whoever else helped to make this happen – a truly special Rock ‘n’ Roll happening that sums up the wonderful power of unabashed joyful music played by people who were having as much of a good time  on the stage as we were in the crowd.

Lenny takes a break to read a passage from his excellent book "Lightning Striking" before chanelling his inner-Iggy!

Check out our Retromanblog65 YouTube channel for more videos from the show. Also, please do take the time to click on the highlighted links throughout the feature to discover what else the wonderful special guests are up to! All photos and videos copyright Retro Man Blog.

Here's some pages from Issue 4 of my old fanzine Out of Step published in September 1985...