Paul Revere and the Raiders: Greatest Hits (1967)

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Paul Revere and the Raiders: Just Like Me (1965)
Paul Revere and the Raiders: Greatest Hits (1967)

Yes, a greatest hits collection does look a bit like cheating for an Essential Elsewhere album. But wait, there’s a good reason.

Back in the mid-Sixties after the Beatles breakthrough when groups were popping up everywhere from Seattle to Sheffield, few record companies -- let alone the bands themselves -- expected they might make more than a single.

So if a band cracked a hit it was straight into the studio to do the tie-in album, usually a bunch of songs they had been playing live or covers of the day.

The front of the Beatles’ debut -- recorded in just 14 hours -- for example read “Please Please Me with Love Me Do [the two hits] and 12 other songs”, those other songs being a remarkable six (count ‘em) originals and covers including the MOR showtune A Taste of Honey.

So when Paul Revere and the Raiders out of Idaho cracked a hit single in the Pacific Northwest (Louie Louie in ‘63) they went off and made the obligatory cash-in album.

And when they cranked out another single (Just Like Me in ‘65 which was a national, then international hit) they made another album.

And because they almost wilfully kept having hits, they kept making albums. By my count they released six in three years until this compilation -- and that doesn’t count their first two (Like, Long Hair in ‘61 and a self-titled album in ‘63).

Paul Revere and the Raiders might have looked like utter prats in their Revolutionary War costumes (at the time the Kinks wore ruffled sleeves, and we won‘t even mention the Beau Brummels), but they were a genuine, down’n’dirty and often quite salacious garage band.

And they had an interesting history (told in part in the narrative of The Legend of Paul Revere included on this album).

Keyboard player Paul Revere Dick (born in 1938) was somewhat older than most pop stars at the time and had owned a couple of restaurants in smalltown Caldwell, Idaho. He had a band called the Downbeats and when he met up with singer Mark Lindsay they changed the name to Paul Revere and the Raiders and, in 1960, scored a regional breakout hit in the Pacific Northwest with Like, Long Hair which eventually went Top 40 on the national charts.

A couple of years later they were in Oregon when their new manager suggested they record Louie Louie. It cost him $57, and it was a slice of pure garage rock.

The Kingsman’s infamous version -- recorded in the same studio at around the same time -- went on to become the underground hit, but you can’t take anything away from Revere and the Raiders’ dirty-ass rock’n’roll treatment.

Inevitably they made an album (Here They Come with Louie Louie, and 11 other songs, including Money and Time is On My Side made popular by the Beatles and the Stones) and were probably expected to disappear as fast as they had arrived.

But Revere and Lindsay had already been at this game off and on for five years and weren’t going to go away quietly after they had sniffed the perfume of fame.

By judiciously choosing covers and the odd original they took their raw and raucous sound into a string of hits: Just Like Me, Kicks, Hungry, Great Airplane Strike . . .

These were very adult and ragged songs which peeled off a little of the Animals and the Rolling Stones’ attitude, in fact the Goffin-King anti-drugs song Kicks (“you’re kicks just keep getting’ harder to find, and all your kicks aren’t bringing you peace of mind”) was originally scheduled for the Animals . . . And the way Lindsay delivers it makes you think that “kicks” are actually pretty exciting.

And as the hits kept coming -- five in 18 months, three of them gold records -- so did the albums full of filler, which is why this collection is the best way to hear this ragged band at its best.

Singer Mark Lindsay could be lip-lickingly suggestive and as in your face as any punk: Steppin’ Out starts “well I had to leave town because of Uncle Sam’s deal“, a reference to dodging the draft, and then he lets go a Rotten laugh; on Just Like Me he is in your ear sounding like he’s whispering something dirty before letting go a full throated roar; on Hungry he says he’s “hungry for those good things baby” and when he sucks in his breath and whispers with a sexual ache “I can almost taste it” you know exactly what those good things are . . .

Guitarist Drake Levin could peel off stinging solos which cut like shards of glass (Louie Louie) or nail a riff as memorable as Satisfaction (Kicks), and at their best -- which is most of these 11 tracks -- Revere and the Raiders were in the same league as the Animals, Downliners Sect and Pretty Things.

Yes, that good, that raw.

It didn’t last however and when everyone but Revere and Lindsay walked away because they thought they were getting too poppy, it was the beginning of a long end: a new Raiders appeared but their more mainstream sound failed to connect, album sales slowed, their biggest hit Indian Reservation in 1971 was essentially a Lindsay solo session, he quit in 75 . . .

These days Revere and whoever the Raiders now are play casinos and on cruise ships.

The Revere and the Raiders’ best years were short, ’65-’67 in fact, but they were not forgotten and punks and garage bands have acknowledged these rough-house songs: the Sex Pistols covered the Raiders’ I’m Not Your Stepping Stone (a Tommy Boyce/Bobby Hart song which the Monkees took up the charts after the Raiders version); Bowie covered  Louie, Go Home (a sequel to Louie Louie and on this collection); The Flaming Groovies did the raunchy Ups and Downs (also on this collection and sounding like an off-cut from the Stones’ Out of Our Heads) and . . .

Yes, gone but not entirely forgotten.

And on this collection as relevant as ever. 

These Essential Elsewhere pages deliberately point to albums which you might not have thought of, or have even heard . . .

But they might just open a door into a new kind of music, or an artist you didn't know of. Or someone you may have thought was just plain boring.

But here is the way into a new/interesting/different music . . .

Jump in.

The deep end won't be out of your depth . . . 

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