Saturday, February 18, 2017
In The Beginning - Paul Revere and the Raiders
Paul Revere and the Raiders
This is a 1966 reissue of the Raiders' second album on Sande Records originally released in 1963. The original has different cover art but an identical track selection and running order. Over the holidays I paid a visit to my aunt and uncle who live up in the redwoods in Northern California. At one point my aunt mentioned having traveled around the Pacific Northwest with a rock band in her younger days. I was immediately interested in this tidbit and pressed her for more details. When she said they were Paul Revere and the Raiders I was flabbergasted. She said she was dating one of the guys in the band. I asked his name and when she replied Mark Lindsay I went nuts. My aunt dated Mark Lindsay, I still can't believe it. She was unimpressed about all of this. Mark was a nice guy but she didn't think the band was all that special and she disliked Revere. This was of course before the band became famous, back when they were a struggling group working in small venues playing music like the songs on this album. I pulled out this record when I got back home and listening to it, I can understand my aunt's lack of enthusiasm. I really enjoy the record, but there is not much here that suggests the band's meteoric rise once they signed with Columbia Records. They sound like a bar band, albeit an extremely good one with excellent taste in material. Many of the songs are very well known covers. Their version of Big Joe Turner's classic "Shake Rattle and Roll" is highly energetic driven by Revere's hot organ riffing. They wisely avoid going up against Elvis by turning "Don't Be Cruel" into an instrumental that features Revere on organ dueling with Lindsay on sax with Lindsay winning. Their rocking version of Bill Doggett's hit instrumental "Honky Tonk" is excellent, one of the best versions that I've heard. Unfortunately there are also pedestrian performances of "So Fine" and "Hey Baby" that are less entertaining than the hit versions by the Fiestas and Bruce Channel. Their uninspired version of Hank Ballard's "Work with Me Annie" isn't much better aside from Revere's dynamic piano solo. The less famous covers include a punchy version of Ray Sharpe's "Linda Lu" that showcases Lindsay's charisma as a singer. The Delmore Brothers' country classic "Blues Stay Away From Me" is transformed into a high energy instrumental that makes it nearly unrecognizable. It is one of my favorite cuts on the record. Larry Bright's "Mojo Workout" suits the band's sound extremely well. They increase the tempo and Lindsay's gritty vocal gives the song plenty of oomph. It is another one of my favorites. Dave "Baby" Cortez's "Rinky Dink" is a vehicle for Revere to show his chops although Lindsay steals the spotlight with a brief but smoking sax solo. Their version of "Irresistible You" seems to be taken from the Bobby Darin version and Lindsay shows he can swing just as well as Darin with one of his strongest vocal performances on the album. The one "original" track on the album is "Crisco" (also known as "Crisco Party") and it is easily the best cut on the record. The record is worth buying for it alone. It features the music from the Olympics' "Hully Gully" but with entirely new lyrics. It is a frat-rock classic with a lascivious vocal from Lindsay that has future rock star written all over it. It is about boys, girls and a whole lotta Crisco and you can figure out the rest. Did kids really do stuff like this back then? I'll have to ask my aunt about that next time I see her. This album is too derivative to be essential, but it is a lot of fun and a terrific record for a toga party. Recommended to fans of the Wailers and the Kingsmen.