Love Is the Song We Sing is not so much a boxed set as it is a hardbound coffee-table book that also happens to come with four CDs. Like previous, Lenny Kaye-produced Nuggets sets, this collection mostly contains tracks that were released as singles, but for the most part this compilation does not have the same concept as its predecessors. Those were focused more on one-hit-singles artists and, in most instances, a pop sound that was a precursor to punk; this collection, though it does have its share of one-hit wonders, is more a full survey of the seminal years of the San Francisco sound. Most of the city’s classic groups are featured here, along with those that would become huge hit-makers, such as the Steve Miller Band and Sly & the Family Stone. But such raw garage-rock bands as Count Five, Blue Cheer and the Flamin’ Groovies are also included, showing the full breadth of San Francisco’s mid- to late-’60s sweep.
What really makes this a coveted set for collectors is the 120-page book, which includes striking iconic photographs from the likes of Jim Marshall and Herb Greene and replicas of the groundbreaking psychedelic concert posters that also defined the era. The text, written by Gene Sculatti and Ben-Fong Torres, and the illustrations also pay homage to the clubs and ballrooms that were the musical and cultural incubators of the city’s sound. To a lesser degree, collecting some of the more obscure groups and artists (does anyone remember the Ace of Cups?) makes this a valuable compendium of tracks.
It’s great that the Nuggets franchise continues. Love Is the Song We Sing strays far from the series’ initial concept, and much of this music has been released previously on countless other single and multidisc sets. But those drawbacks are overshadowed by how thoughtfully and lovingly produced this set is.