There are a few points in rock n roll time and space where everything just comes together and something new is born. Memphis in the mid-50s gave us rock n roll. New York in the mid-70s gave us punk. Seattle in the early 90s gave us grunge. All of these local scenes were the birthplace of both a music and a culture that disseminated to the rest of us in different times and places. Another of these scenes was San Francisco in the late 60s, the source of all things hippie. Love Is the Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-1970 tries to capture that point on the space-time continuum in four CDs.
To be fair, it’s an impossible task to express what happened in San Francisco in the late 60s in any number of CDs, but this set does a fair job of trying, perhaps as good a job as could be done. It’s more than just the scene’s greatest hits. It collects the big names, the unknowns and everything in between, running the gamut from the Dead, Jefferson Airplane and Janis Joplin through Blue Cheer and the Chocolate Watchband to bands I’ve never heard before. That makes for enough familiarity to hold it together, but enough unknown ground to keep it interesting. Best of all, it errs on the side of the lesser known bands, making it a far better education that it would have been had Rhino played it safe.