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Reviewer rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

THESE three albums aren't pretty, ladies and gentlemen. Nuggets, in any of its iterations from 1971, was never about the nice. Well, except maybe in the sense the Small Faces once used ''the nice'' when talking about scoring speed.

Nuggets were, and are, collections of garage rock: a style of music that is raw of sound, rough of performance, often snotty of vocals, regularly touched by psychedelia as much as '50s rock'n'roll, and almost by definition rarely chart-topping except when given a sweeter surface, for example by the Monkees with Steppin' Stone (although the Easybeats' garage-y Sorry broke that mould and the Loved Ones nearly did the same).

The early Masters Apprentices, with adenoidal vocals and trebly, throttling guitars on Buried and Dead, and the Purple Hearts with spacey vocal effects and twisty, nasty guitars on Early in the Morning, were from the Australian garage. The Standells, with vampy organ and snarly lead voice on Dirty Water, and Count Five, putting some freak-beat interludes and distorted guitars on Psychotic Reaction, were doing the same in American garages.

In Britain, Italy and Spain they were doing it too, because garage didn't require much money, great skill or access to radio playlists. In Europe, they were inspired by rhythm and blues and the gnarlier end of the British Invasion (more Animals and Stones than the Beatles, in other words), and by saying what you wanted to say in 2½ minutes.

If not big sellers, they were entertaining - check out the Creatures' swinging Ugly Thing or the Nazz's poptastic swirling in Open My Eyes - and surprisingly important. From these seeds (including, of course, the Seeds' cowboy surf music Pushin' Too Hard) were grown the alternative scenes of the '70s, '80s and '90s. The punks - in Britain, New York and back home with the Radio Birdman scene - understood snotty all too well. The paisley revivalists pushed the trash as well as hooks, as we saw with the Hoodoo Gurus and Lime Spiders. And grunge scenesters such as Nirvana mixed it in with metal.

That legacy is both recognised and then amplified with the third and newest of these three discs, Antipodean Interpolations. Here, young Australian bands that have yet to learn politeness take a run at some of the original Nuggets songs and do it really well.

The Straight Arrows chase the Knickerbockers' Lies and then swing back and forth; Velociraptor (pictured) spin a swirly web around the Electric Prunes' I Had Too Much to Dream Last Night; Step Panther bring some fairground to the Castaways' Liar Liar; Eagle add some soul to the Magicians' An Invitation to Cry; and the Palms just have fun with Don't Look Back.

And that's the point, isn't it? Not pretty but loads of fun.