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CONTINUED FROM SLIPPY TOWN TIMES #3

"SS 396"/"Corvair Baby" [Columbia Special Products single, 1965] I guess this is one you could only get at your local Chevy dealer! The Revere boys kick out some totally convincing hot-rod jams. "SS 396" (written by commercial songwriters Lou Adessa and Vince Benay) has a passing resemblance to Jan & Dean vocal harmonies and subject matter, but the music is garage-raunch all the way. "Corvair Baby" (by Wilson Stone?) does the same trick, except the music is janglin' L.A. folk-rock. Still hard-drivin', though, with a hot Drake Levin lead. Cool stuff!

Midnight Ride With Paul Revere & the Raiders [Columbia Records LP, 1966] This is the point at which the Raiders' music started to expand beyond its hard R&B base, with influences coming from the English stuff, folk-rock, and teeny-pop. It's also the point where Revere made sure the band would be the toast of parents, pre-teens, and squares around the country when the band released the superb anti-drug anthem "Kicks." Not surprising, most of the band was indulging in the same pleasures and mind expansions as everybody else with long hair and a chip on their shoulder. This is also the point where it sounds like the studio musicians are starting to appear. It's never been clear who plays what as the Raiders' career moved along. But parts of this sound like the loose-knit group of L.A. studio musicians now known informally as "the wrecking crew." The overly sweet teen-pop of "Little GIrl in the 4th Row" has a backing track that could be a reject from a Brian Wilson session, and "Kicks" probably has at least a studio rhythm section. Ironically, this album was when the band came into its own as songwriters. Drummer Mike "Smitty" Smith wrote and sang "There's Always Tomorrow," a tough rocker with a hot raga-rock guitar solo from Drake Levin. And Levin himself wrote "Ballad of a Useless Man,"
a rough'n'tumble garage-rocker, sung by lead vocalist Mark Lindsay. Phil "Fang" Volk contributed "Get It On," a hard rollin' Stones-like track. But the Lindsay/Revere writing team still managed to dominate, of course. There's the brilliant rearrangement of their '64 single "Louie Go Home"--the original R&B raunch re-imagined as very hard English-influenced garage-punk with another great raga-rock solo from Levin. These guys had a real knack for bringing Middle Eastern sounds into their thang--Drake had already developed his approach by '64 (dig the Here They Come! LP)--way before the Beatles or the Byrds made any such moves. Did Drake get it from Dick Dale--or maybe his own Jewish background? Levin was a seriously underrated guitarist. And there's the Lindsay/Revere-penned "All I Really Need Is You," an early psychedelic ballad drenched in staggered "Oriental" rhythms. Aside from "Kicks" (by Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil), the other cover here is the pre-Monkees version of Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart's "(I'm Not Your) Steppin' Stone," with Lindsay growling the lyrics and the band grinding away in their signature R&B-stomp style. This is a great album, folks! Try to hear it in MONO!


The Spirit of '67
[Columbia Records LP, 1966] And then guitarist Drake Levin "had to leave town because of Uncle Sam's deal," as Mark Lindsay sang on "Steppin' Out" a  year earlier. After Drake went into the military, he was replaced by Jim "Harpo" Valley from Don & the Goodtimes, Raider wannabees from the Northwest. Proof of Levin's true talents, he still played some of the guitar parts on this album while Valley was the official guitarist. And there are certainly session players here too, although as always, who knows who did what. Whatever the case, most of the songs come from the band, this time with producer Terry Melcher co-writing a few things. Lindsay, Revere, and Melcher wrote the hit "Good Thing," a super bit of Beach Boys-inspired pop-rock. In a similar vein is the other hit "Hungry," written by Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil (the "Kicks" writing team). The third hit here is "The Great Airplane Strike," a loping Stones-like thing of great rockin' wonder "Louise," a hot stomper with pop production, would've made another great radio tune. Fang wrote and sang the chunky rocker "In My Community" and the drippy Eastern-tinged "Why? Why? Why?" And Smitty came up with "Our Candidate," a nitty-gritty folk-rocker with cool mocked-up Dylanesque lyrics. There's more Eastern stonedness on "1001 Arabian Nights"--play it next to "Bass Strings" by Country Joe & the Fish--then pass around that leaf, brutha. The Spirit of '67 is a slight step down ifrom Midnight Ride, but it's hard to complain about an album this solid and fun!


Paul Revere & the Raiders' Greatest Hits [Columbia Records LP, 1967] If you gotta own one Raiders record, etc.  This has their '63 studio version of "Louie Louie" (better'n the Kingsmen!), the '65 version of "Louie, Go Home," "Steppin' Out," "Just Like Me," the schmaltzy "Melody for an Unknown Girl" (one for the little girls!), "Kicks," "Hungry," "The Great Airplane Strike," "Good Thing," "Ups and Downs," and the goofy autobiographical "Legend of Paul Revere" written just for this LP.


Revolution!
[Columbia Records LP, 1967] Then the band split, with Phil Volk and Mike Smith joining their former bandmate Drake Levin to become Brotherhood. They released two LPs, nothing special, decent late-psych semi-hard-rock (but if you get a chance, do check out the Brotherhood-related LP Joyride by Friendsound). Jim Valley also split from the Raiders, releasing a solo single that I never heard, and then disappeared. Meanwhile, Revere and Lindsay recruited new Raiders: guitarist Freddy Weller, bass player Charlie Coe (who had served time in an early Raiders lineup as well as with Don & the Goodtimes), and drummer Joe Correro Jr. Revolution! begins with the single "Him or Me--What's It Gonna Be?" It's a last burst of old-style Raiders hard-rockin' R&B--albeit with the ever thickening cloud of Terry Melcher production. In fact, the Raiders became a vehicle for Lindsay and Melcher on this album. The two co-wrote every song here. The democratic approach of the two previous albums is gone, along with the band that made that possible. But Revolution! is special precisely because of its insular nature. As silly as they still looked in their Revolutionary War costumes on the front cover, this has the same "studio" quality the Beatles and others were developing at the same time. Oddly enough, it's less overtly psychedelic than the Eastern-influenced tracks on the two previous albums. It sounds druggy and dense, but the songs are actually more straight forward. And it's a great album, man! The songs tend to blur together--there's a "sameness" here that I think you could more accurately call "cohesion." There's an odd mesh of funky country influences and spacey production--a bit like The Notorious Byrd Brothers LP. At least some of the country funk can be attributed to new guitarist Freddy Weller, from Georgia, and Mississippi drummer Joe Correro Jr. had a distinctive fatback style which once again reinforced the Raiders' tight R&B approach. The songs: "Reno," "Mo'reen," "Gone--Movin' On," "Tighter," I Had a Dream" . . . dig it up and listen to the blur for yourself! And hey, it's safe to hear this one in STEREO! Possibly even preferable.

Alias Pink Puzz
[Columbia Records LP, 1969] Following the kinda classic-in-its-way Revolution! album, the Raiders broke with producer Terry Melcher and started misfiring: a silly Xmas LP in '67, an LP in '68 of Stax soul tunes recorded in Memphis that was pretty pointless, the crappy Something Happening later in '68, the almost interesting Hard 'n Heavy (With Marshmallow) ('69) that wasn't heavy or fun enough. Somewhere in the midst of this, they made the brilliant decision to dump bassist Charlie Coe in favor of Keith Allison, himself a moderately successful solo artist and old buddy from Where the Action Is. He became a writing partner with Lindsay, Allison's genuine Texas background adding some life to Mark's funky fantasies. "Freeborn Man" and "Louisiana Redbone" are real cool country-rockers. The team contribute a couple more songs, but not up to those standards. The rest of the tunes are all by Lindsay.
"Let Me!" is one of their best later singles--a sexually aggressive cross between early heavy rumblings and bubblegum soul. Lindsay threw in a few too many ballads for my taste, but there's also "Down in Amsterdam" and "Hey Babro," good-natured rockin' tales of road girls. And "The Original Handy Man" is a funky country thing not unlike Jerry Reed's stuff from a couple years later. Swamp-rock, y'all. This album's the weakest of the Raiders LPs I'm discussing here, but it was a genuine step at the time, and has some great moments. Oh yeah, the story behind the album title: Somebody at Columbia had the bright idea to send out pre-release copies of Revolution! in '67 with plain white sleeves and only the name Pink Puzz written on front. Several "progressive" FM stations put the LP in rotation and were getting good response until it was discovered that it was a new Raiders LP. It was then pulled because of the Raiders' unhip status in '67!


Collage
[Columbia Records LP, 1970] At this point, the Raiders made a big move: They removed Revere's name from the front of the group name. Until Lindsay left, all of the records were released as just the Raiders. It made sense considering Lindsay had always been the main creative force behind the band. It was also supposed to signal a change in the band's sound and image. Mark Lindsay and Keith Allison now sported obvious beards, and the teen appeal had been stripped clean. It was a ballsy move. Too bad it didn't work commercially. But it did work, baby! This is even better than Revolution! and in fact, features two songs from that album given a harder treatment. And hey, dig this double whammy:  A slow-burn jam-like hard-rocker called
"Dr. Fine" leads right into the hot Zep-like cruncher "Just Seventeen." Also check the self-referential "The Boys in the Band"--sounds like "We're an American Band" three years early! "Think Twice" falls somewhere between the country feel of Pink Puzz and the general heavy vibe on Collage. The guitars do sound better thickened and cranked. And Lindsay's use of horns is surprisingly tasteful. He  uses them more for color, rather than battering you with them like Chicago and Blood, Sweat & Tears (pardon my french!). Like the Saints did on Eternally Yours eight years later, the horns on Collage actually make the sounds heavier. It's a rare thing to hear in post-50s rock music! There's a heavy/horn version of Laura Nyro's "Save the Children," and in the same hand-holdin' peace'n'luv ballpark is the re-recording of their own "We Gotta All Get Together" single from the previous year. Collage is a teriffic album, but it's easy to see why it didn't work for a commercial band. Like the Beach Boys around the same time, the Raiders had a pre-hippie vibe they couldn't shake and in fact made them special! Too special for the mediocrity of both "hip" and "teenybop" mass audiences in 1970.

The Raiders' Greatest Hits Volume II
[Columbia Records LP, 1971] Total happening comp of mostly singles from '67-'70. Some of the Raiders LPs were weak during this period, but the singles were consistently cool. You get the sleepy druggy "I Had a Dream" and "Do Unto Others," groovy flower-pop powered by a mellowed-out "Wild Thing" riff, from '67. (But no "Peace of Mind," the also groovy A-side of "Do Unto Others.") There's a triple header from 1968: "Too Much Talk" (fuzz-rockin' social commentary), "Don't Take It So Hard" (hard soul-rockin' pop), and "Cinderella Sunshine" (heavy flower-pop). And three more from '69: "Mr. Sun, Mr. Shine" (more sunshine funk), "Let Me!" (see Alias Pink Puzz review above), and "We Gotta All Get Together" (country-rockin' brotherhood anthem written by guitarist Freddy Weller). The last single release here is "Just Seventeen" (see Collage review above). Plus a couple Collage LP tracks. Richard Meltzer did a hilarious
Rolling Stone review of this back in '71.

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And then . . . "Indian Reservation"! It was written by John D. Loudermilk ("Tobacco Road"). It's not a bad song, but it's just NOT a Raiders song! In fact, it was a Mark Lindsay solo track that Revere figured might be a hit, so got it released as a Raiders record instead. For the first time, there's no doubt that this track was ALL session players. It became the Raiders' biggest and last hit. Sad. The ensuing Indian Reservation LP was uninspired and instantly forgettable. Drummer Mike "Smitty" Smith had returned to the band, replacing Joe Jr. who seemed to know to get while the gettin' was good!

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"Powder Blue Mercedes Queen"
[Columbia Records single, 1972] From the otherwise dull Country Wine, the last Raiders album (not counting much later releases with Revere and his post-Lindsay group), this is a super heavy scorcher! It was a huge hit in MY world when it came out, and I guess it made the upper part of the charts, but the only place I ever heard it outside my bedroom was the Raiders lip-synching (as always!) on Rollin', a syndicated TV show hosted by Kenny Rogers & the First Edition! Pushed along by a heavy staggered guitar riff, the track lopes excitedly like a stoned dinosaur--"Mississipi Queen" and Zep shrieks and great horny lyrics: "Do it like a lady/Chew it like a lady/Yeahyeahyeahyeahyeah" . . . ! If only they had done an entire album like THIS!


Mojo Workout!
[Sundazed 2CD, 2000]
For hardcore fans of the RAUNCHY '63-'65 Raiders, this double set is a dream-come-true. The first CD contains the live show the band (with pre-Fang bassist Mike "Doc" Holiday) recorded in a Columbia Records studio for side one of their Here They Come! LP. This has the entire set, in its original unedited sequence, without the Beatlemania-level crowd noise added for the LP--although the small audience that was there sounds like they're having fun! And so does the band! They stomp though 17 raw R&B-style jams: "Louie Louie" (of course!), "Night Train," "Money," "Peter Gunn," "You Can't Sit Down," "Big Boy Pete," etc. On the second disc is a great bunch of early singles: "Louie Louie," the original "Louie Go Home" (very different from the raga-rock version on Midnight Ride), "Have Love Will Travel," "Over You," etc. Plus there's also the "studio" tracks from Here They Come! (check their versions of "Sometimes" and "Time Is On My Side"), outtakes of "Louie Go Home" and "Have Love Will Travel," and a live studio rehearsal.

The Essential Ride '63-'67
[Legacy/Columbia CD, 1995] Very cool comp that concentrates on the "classic" Raiders period, mostly their amazing '64-'67 singles but also some prime LP tracks and some stuff from the archives. There's a previously unreleased live take on their "suggestive" party tune "Crisco Party" (also included later on the Mojo Workout CD), their pre-Monkees version of "I'm Not Your Stepping Stone," alternate takes of "Good Thing" and "Hungry" (with Mark Lindsay slurring, "We'll go get stoned"!), the previously unreleased "Bad Girl," "The Great Airplane Strike" with its full extended ending, Phil Volk's "In My Community," etc. And hey, I just heard there's a new Raiders CD box set of all their Columbia singles--should be pretty solid (with a few misses)--hope it sounds good. A guy at Freakbeat Records in Encino told me about the singles box, and said Keith Allison had been in the store to buy an "extra" copy of the box for himself!

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In 1980, I went with my bud Sid Griffin (the Unclaimed, the Long Ryders, etc.), my roommate Rich Coffee (the Gizmos, the Unclaimed, thee Fourgiven, etc.), and Rich's girlfriend to Anaheim to check out Bo Diddely and, yep, Paul Revere & the Raiders at Disneyland. Our expectations were low: Mark Lindsay hadn't been a Raider since '75, and Bo had the reputation for using crappy pick-up bands. It turned out about how we expected. Bo had some awful white jam band behind him, and didn't even have his own reverb turned on! It was not good. In a way, the Raiders were better--more professional and capable of playing the songs--but it was still pretty pointless, since only Revere had ever had anything to do with the songs they were playing. It was just a cover band run by Revere, who is still out there in 2010 with his latest incarnation of Raiders, playing for the fans who only know the songs and aren't upset that no other original Raiders participate. As we were exiting the Disneyland concert area, Sid pointed at some guy who was also leaving, and said, "That guy looks like he could've been in the Raiders." It was Mark Lindsay! He had made the show, but only as a spectator. We watched as women, old and young, began to slowly surround him. It was easy to see what Lindsay's motivation might be in showing up but not playing: he was going to have his pick of the ex-teen fans who showed up hoping and praying their formerly ponytailed hero would be there to sing "Hungry" and "Let Me." We watched as Lindsay slowly walked on, the throng of women following him.
. . .


SLIPPY TOWN TIMES #4
June 14, 2010


IN THIS ISSUE:

Intro (Crawlspace live!)
This Week in Slippy Town
Uncle Jim Q&A w/ Crawlin' Ed
An Unexpected Bend in the Tide (1933 lost movie)
Paul Revere & the Raiders (part 2)

Swangin' Sounds!

Comix
Public Service Announcement 1968

Outro (R.I.P.)


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SLIPPY TOWN TIMES online #1

SLIPPY TOWN TIMES online #2

SLIPPY TOWN TIMES online #3