Nuggets: Blackout of Gretely by GONN

Before he became Patti Smith’s bass player, Lenny Kaye compiled the 2 album set, Nuggets: Original Artyfacts from the First Psychedelic Era. Released in 1972, the two-LP set covered American garage rock and psychedelia from the years from 1965-1968, and was a major influence on punk rock. Rhino Records reissued an expanded version of the set in 1998, with 118 tracks in total. I’m profiling and rating each of these 118 tracks, working backwards.

Track 116: Blackout of Gretely by GONN
Release Date: 1966
From: Keokuk, Iowa
Aphoristical Rating: 7/10

Iowa teenager Craig Moore formed a high school band, The Pagans. The band’s bassist, he initially learned two songs – ‘Last Night’ by The Mar-Keys and ‘Steppin’ Out’ by Paul Revere and The Raiders. He added a third song to his repertoire -‘Gloria’ by Them – but inadvertently spent the first six months playing the three note riff backwards. Nicking some members from another local band, The Rogues, The Pagans changed their name to GONN. Why? Guitarist Rex Garrett’s mother didn’t approve of the name The Pagans.

As with many bands featured on Nuggets, the compilation features their signature song. The title was inspired by a 1942 mystery thriller by J. B. Priestley, The Blackout At Gretley. There’s a thrilling opening – Moore intones “The universe is permeated with the odor of kerosene” over creepy organ. The rest of the song doesn’t quite match the introduction, but it’s an enjoyable bluesy riff-rocker that recalls the mid-1960s Rolling Stones. The shaggy dog story of the lyrics is a nice touch.

GONN seemed destined to land in obscurity – a second single, ‘Doin’ Me In’, wasn’t released. They courted controversy by playing in front on a large Nazi flag, didn’t progress far beyond playing Iowa state fairs, and they broke up in 1969.

‘Blackout of Gretely’ belatedly gained a following, especially after it was featured on the CD reissue of Pebbles, Volume 1 in 1992. By the mid-1990s copies of the original single were selling for US$1,000. The band reunited in the 1990s, and recorded their only studio album, Gonn With the Wind, in 1996.

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  1. Graham, you are either staggeringly dedicated or a bit mad. 🙂
    Like most people who have both the 2LP set and the 4CD box, I know the former much better than the latter.
    And of course, there’s NUGGETS II

  2. I do like the controlled chaos of this song. This is bordering more on punk compared to the earlier ones you posted.
    Playing in front of a Nazi flag…yea that would get attention really quick.
    BTW…The fact that they regrouped…is a story in itself…Gonn With The Wind. You cannot get better than that!
    I could listen to these songs all day.

  3. The guitar riff on this song is too close to Dirty Water by The Standells, which of course may be the most famous garage rock song ever next to Louie Louie. But its still a pretty good record anyway I think. You could get a lot of mileage out of that riff I guess. I don’t ever remember any garage rock record being as long as this one. Over 4 minutes!! Holy shit. Usually they’re barely 2 minutes.

    • I think I’ve heard Dirty Water, but I’ll get to it officially in about four years time!
      I had a look at the times on the tracklisting after noticing a very short song (Voices Green and Purple) next to a very long song, by Nuggest standards (GONN). The vast majority of songs on Nuggets are longer than 2 minutes but shorter than 3. Only 7 songs on the set are longer than 3:10.

      • Yeah I just looked at the track times for nuggets too, and most of them are between 2 and 2 and 1/2 minutes. There are some that are even less than 2 minutes. And actually I was surprised to see about three that were over 4 minutes and even one that was over five minutes.

        • We need to make a graph of it! I kind of want to make a map of where they all come from. Coming after the US election, it always surprises me when garage rock bands come from “red states’ like Iowa.

  4. That’s funny that they had an album called GONN with the Wind because I used to have an album called Gomm With the Wind by a guy named Ian Gomm. It was kind of like Pub Rock/New Wave like the kind they used to have around that time in the early eighties I guess. It had a nice hit on it called Hold On that I heard on a compilation.

  5. OK. I liked this song. At 4 1/2 minutes, much longer than many garage/blues cuts of the day, but a good groove and nice dirty delivery.
    Happy with 7/10.
    PS. New Bats album. Review coming?

  6. I have the Nuggets boxed set and I love it completely! You are exceedingly ambitious to cover all of its tracks individually! Thar’s so much gold in them thar hills, though…

  7. LOve that riff! Agree with the comment that reminds me of Dirty Water a bit. Is this the only Nuggets entry from Iowa?? Could be. Wonder why they decide to record an album all those years later

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