The problem with discussing music in the sixties is that the same bands get mentioned over and over with little room for anyone else. There was a reason I decided that the Beatles and the Stones would not be on this list. There is no arguments to be had. They are the definitive bands of the era. Same with the Beach Boys and the Who. It becomes too easy. No one bothers trying to defend someone like, say, Paul Revere and the Raiders.
Okay, there was an element to Paul Revere and the Raiders that is frankly ridiculous. They wore those Revolutionary costumes and that was twee. But if you sit down and listen to Midnight Ride, you forget the idiocy of the costumes and realize they were a fantastic band. My mother may have preferred Herman’s Hermits, but it was repeated playing of “Kicks” in my childhood that stick with me.
Do people even know Paul Revere and the Raiders anymore?
They were an early garage rock band, the type that recorded “Louie Louie” and toured the Pacific Northwest religiously, even when Revere himself was unable to due to his deferred service work in a mental institution. They became popular in the mid-sixties, and Midnight Ride is their great album. It was the fifth record by the band, a great rock record in any era, but having unfortunately released in 1966, was overshadowed by those Beatles blokes, and those Stones fellas.
“Kicks”, easily the best track on the album and one of my favourite songs of all time, is ostensibly an anti-drug song. Mann/Weil originally wanted the Animals to sing it, but Eric Bourdon wisely turned it down, and the Raiders got their best song ever. Singer Mark Lindsay’s soulful voice overtop of organs and guitars makes for one kick ass song to begin with, but the song was the antithesis to everything that was going on it’s almost anachronistic.
“I’m Not You’re Stepping Stone” is now best remembered as a Monkees hit, but the Raiders got there first and frankly did it better. It’s a song that seems darker in their hands, and you can hear the similarities the raiders had to their Brit counterparts the Animals. Lindsay’s voice isn’t as deep and threatening as Eric Bourdon’s, but really, does anyone beside Bourdon ever sound like he’s going to strangle you while singing the word “Yeah”? Oddly enough, there is no version of this song on YouTube, except a truncated live version.
“Louie Go Home” rips off part of the “Satisfaction” riff, then launches into a weird waltz time breakdown. “Ballad of a Useless Man” is less a thoughtful piece of high art than a full-on rave up, “There She Goes” is a country inspired break up, “All I Really Need Is You” is buoyed by its middle eastern inspired guitars (and again, waltz in the chorus- I admire the way they play with genre and time signatures). “Take a Look at Yourself” is the closest thing to Beatlesesque they ever got. A band truly inspired by their peers, they took musical risks they didn’t need to on this album, and it paid off by making it much more interesting than anything the Monkees or Herman’s Hermits were doing. Many of their own Pacific Northwest scene lacked their adventurous spirit and their skill.
And one must always-ALWAYS- love a band who has a bassist named “Fang”.