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Paul Revere & the Raiders featuring Mark Lindsay
The Complete Columbia Singles
It has to be those silly Revolutionary War outfits. That's the only conceivable reason why, especially in retrospect, Paul Revere & the Raiders haven't been accorded the respect they deserve as a terrific rock 'n' roll band. Not that we care that much about the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. But these guys have unjustifiably never even been nominated.
And yet, they were one of the prototypical great '60s garage rock groups, at the forefront of the much-lauded mid-'60s Northwest "punk/garage" scene — the first single on this new anthology, in fact, is their rendition of "Louie, Louie," which every band from that area seemed to have in their repertoire at the time; there's also a version of "Louie, Louie" composer Richard Berry's "Have Love, Will Travel," immortalized by Seattleites the Sonics. And then Columbia hooked the group up with staff producer Terry Melcher, Doris Day's son who'd later produce the Byrds' greatest hits (and even later was Charles Manson's primary intended victim/adversary)... and from 1965 into the beginning of the following decade, the rest was pop-rock glory and history. The Raiders were one of the bigger American units in the face of the British Invasion — their name was more than coincidental in this context — teen magazine heroes who could deliver the rock onstage, as their concerts and numerous TV appearances (including hosting Dick Clark's daily teen variety show, Where the Action Is) proved. But those damn suits ... !
The band was full of colorful characters, including organist Revere leading two different lineups that featured cool guys (and excellent musicians) with names like Smitty and Fang. Freddy Weller, a member of the second version of the band, would later become a country music star. But the real secret weapon was always heartthrob Lindsay's lead vocals, a blend of punk ("Steppin' Out" is a growlin' vocal lesson in the form) and melodic, hook-driven pop that took hits like "Kicks," "Just Like Me," "Hungry" and "Good Thing" to the top of the charts. "Him or Me — What's It Gonna Be?" later superbly covered by the Flamin' Groovies during the height of '70s punk, was a sonic roar that sounded like nothing else on the radio at the time.
This three-disc set includes the A and B-sides of every Raiders 45 released by CBS from '63 (pre-Beatles) through 1975, although the hits dried up following 1971's No. 1 smash, "Indian Reservation." (Lindsay would later score two solo hits of his own, including the well-known "Arizona," which, alas, wasn't about immigration idiocy.) Not that the records lost anything in quality during the '70s, as the band covered obscurities by the likes of Jimmy Webb and Dylan alongside their own original compositions. There's maybe a little bit too much here for casual fans but archivists and completists will surely adore this collection.
Just how little respect this band continues to receive in retrospect is also illustrated by Lindsay's upcoming local appearance on the "Happy Together" tour being listed as "& Others" (as opposed to his name) under the headliners in newspaper ads for the show. Lindsay only tours every so often — to "keep in touch with the fans and let them know I'm well," he said onstage 20 years ago, also on a bill with Turtles and Zappa frontmen (and T. Rex and Springsteen background vocalist), the great Flo & Eddie. We're betting money, though, that he's only improved with time.
Mark Lindsay plays Sunday, May 30, at DTE Energy Music Theatre, 7774 Sashabaw Rd., Clarkston; 248-377-0100. With Flo & Eddie, Micky Dolenz, the Grass Roots featuring Rob Grill, and the Buckinghams.