March Through Time: Paul Revere and the Raiders
I’m a serious fan of Paul Revere and the Raiders. Like The Monkees, the group has often been shortchanged in terms of the respect they deserve. The costumes certainly didn’t help in that regard, and the Raiders’ ubiquity on television back in the day led to them being considered unhip. But those records! It’s a tragedy that there are no good recordings of the band live onstage at their peak. But the studio records contain more than their share of exciting moments.
- Like, Long Hair (1961) – The band in its earliest days in the Pacific Northwest played a much more r&b-flavored kind of music, one that fit in with the kind of music made by the Sonics and The Wailers. Mark Lindsay played sax and Revere played boogie-woogie piano. It’s thrilling stuff in a pre-Beatles kind of way.
- Paul Revere & the Raiders (1963) – Of a piece with the first album, predating the band’s widespread success. Great for what it is, but not the Raiders music you likely remember and love.
- Here They Come! (1965) – Positioned as America’s response to the British Invasion, this album still found the group in a transitional period.
- Just Like Us! (1966) – For most intents and purposes, the “first” Raiders album. The group turned to a style we’d now call proto-garage punk, with spectacular results. “Steppin’ Out” and “Just Like Me” are classics. Some filler, as was the practice of that era.
- Midnight Ride (1966) – Quite near the peak, this record is loaded with classics, and even the teenybopper-oriented balladry is effective in its own way.
- The Spirit of ’67 (1967) – If you only have one (which you shouldn’t), this should be it. The hits (“Good Thing,” “Hungry”) are great, and the deep cuts (“In My Community,” “Louise”) are… also great. Must-own.
- Revolution! (1967) – The band had lost three of its key members (see: Brotherhood) and became a bit faceless. But the hits kept on coming, for good reason. “Him or Me,” “Mo’reen,” “I Had a Dream,” “Tighter,” “Gone – Movin’ On,” “Ups and Downs” – that’s a helluva bunch of great songs, no matter who wrote or played ‘em. Simply essential.
- A Christmas Present…And Past (1967) – A weird one for sure. The ambitious, perhaps ill-considered outlier. Deeply strange, but essential listening. Just… maybe not too many times.
- Goin’ to Memphis (1968) – Whether this is a legitimate Raiders album or not remains a matter of perspective. Perhaps best thought of as Mark Lindsay’s solo debut, and in that context it’s pretty good. Made with Chips Moman’s Nashville session cats. But for those who approach it expecting something akin to the 1966-67 material, it’s likely to disappoint.
- Something Happening (1969) – A slight return to form, helped greatly by the addition of Keith Allison, who had been involved behind the scenes for some time already. The record rarely reaches the heights of rime-era Raiders, but when it does (“Too Much Talk”), it’s wonderful.
- Hard ‘N’ Heavy (with Marshmallow) (1969) – A more mature effort, with the creativity of Lindsay and Allison firing on all cylinders. The tunes are less well known but often great (“Cinderella Sunshine,” “Mr Sun, Mr. Moon,” “Without You,” “Out on That Road”). Part of the must-have Raiders collection.
- Alias Pink Puzz (1969) – At least two classics in “Let Me” and “Freeborn Man” (the latter to become a country standard), this is an overlooked album.
- Collage (1970) – If you ever wondered if the Raiders made a psychedelic album, yes, they sorta did, and this is it. Oddly, they recycled some of their earlier songs, albeit in new arrangements. An obscurity that – for fans – is a required purchase. Everyone else should hear it, too; they may be surprised.
- Indian Reservation (1971) – Sadly, the brilliant Collage – which tanked commercially – was the last creative gasp from the Raiders. This LP has the hit, and the rest of it is kinda MORish. It also features possibly the worst Raiders tune ever, “Turkey” written by Revere, a guy who rarely sang or wrote songs. Now we know why.
- Country Wine (1972) – Let’s just say it’s not as good as Indian Reservation. It spelled the end.
A 2010 collection, The Complete Columbia Singles is the comp to get, as it features the band’s best material. Beware when buying any other Raiders compilation, as many feature what’s essentially a tribute band playing the hits. With due respect to the post-Lindsay lineups, everything released after the Columbia era is utter dross. There’s no reason to own – or even listen to – anything recorded after 1972. The band as it existed post-Columbia should be thought of as a live act only.