Fans from any generation of garage rock will take interest in Phil Smee’s recently reissued The Rubble Collection series. The series, which was originally released in 2004, admittedly owes its existence to the pioneering work of Lenny Kaye and Rhino Records’ seminal garage and psychedelic-rock Nuggets series. However, where Nuggets’ "artyfacts" represented the cream that had risen to the top of the various American and British underground scenes, The Rubble Collection digs deeper into the U.K.’s soil: from the hearty goods buried underneath the attractive froth up top to the absolute dregs that sank to the bottom. Not to suggest the collection suffers from a lack of quality control, but rather that its intent is comparatively more encompassing than selective.
Smee uses this openness to his advantage and draws abstract thematic connections from the abundance of material. Thus each of the ten discs unfolds sensibly from the cheery pop of Volume 11: Adventures in the Mist to the bruising beats of Volume 12: Staircase to Nowhere to the ghost rider anthems on Volume 13: Freakbeat Fantoms and so forth. In this manner, Smee makes interesting connections between the quasi-bootleg "Walters Dream" by the Soft Machine (or, as they are listed on this stolen recording, The Beautiful) and the simply bitchin’ boot-stomp rock of ART’s "Supernatural Fairytales."
Smee’s encyclopedic liner notes, which include at least one paragraph per group, offers pleasant trivia information (did you know that the drummer from the Groove subsequently joined the Bee Gees?) for the hundred-plus bands featured, but the sequencing and selection alone makes the compilation more than its packaging. Taken together Volumes 1-10 and Volumes 11-20, available again in a limited run of a thousand copies each, depict the British independent-rock scene in all its vividly swirling glory.