Paul Revere & the Raiders
Listen – Paul Revere & the Raiders – The Great Airplane Strike – MP3
I hope the new week finds you well.
I was originally planning a new podcast for this Monday, but life kid of got in the way,and though I have the tracks recorded I was unable to sit down and get the mix together, so I’ll be going with a couple of single tracks this week and letting the mix drop at the beginning of next week.
In a brief aside, if you get chance scroll back a bit to the post I did about the Knight Riders garage classic ‘I’. In the few months since I wrote the piece – which is based around the fact that other than their name, the band’s identity was largely lost to time – friends, family, and eventually members of the band themselves have stopped by to comment. Something like this happened (to a lesser degree) a few years back at the old Blogger version of the Funky16Corners blog. I always dig when someone related to the track at hand – especially the recording artist- takes time to comment, but in this case I’m especially pleased since I was originally unable to discover much about the band, and the comments on the post have included info on the band members and reminiscences of their live performances. Very cool.
Today’s selection is a track by a band that is anything but anonymous, or at least was during their heyday when they were one of the most popular rock bands in America.
I was first exposed to Paul Revere & the Raiders via their 1971 hit ‘Indian Reservation’, which was all but inescapable if you were a kid with his ear glued to a transistor radio.
It would be a few more years before I started to pick up on their first wave of hits via oldies radio, and many more before I actually bought my first Raiders collection and really started digging them.
During the garage/mod days of the mid-80’s tracks like ‘Good Thing’, ‘Hungry’ and ‘Kicks’ were always in heavy rotation. Their appeal was obvious in that when the Raiders were at their peak they combined a hard, garagey edge with a solid pop sensibility.
Initially I just assumed that they were, like the other bands that my pals and I were rediscovering, like the Standells and the Chocolate Watchband, a long lost Sixties gem with a couple of big hits in heavy oldies rotation.
I had no idea.
Over the next few years, exposed as I was to the work of other collectors and rich storehouse of bootleg video, I discovered that Paul Revere and the Raiders were no one or two hit wonder act, but were at the height of their success hugely popular with a string of Top 40 hits that ran pretty steadily from 1965 to 1971. They were – especially lead singer Mark Lindsay – teen idols and a regular part of the Tiger Beat world that would in a few years embrace the likes of pop lightweights like Bobby Sherman and David Cassidy. For a while they were also TV stars, regulars (and for a period hosting) on Dick Clark’s ‘Where the Action Is’.
Unfortunately, as this more comprehensive picture of the Raiders came into focus their image, with the pseudo-Revolutionary War costumes and popstar clowning and their status as the idols of a nation of 13 year old girls started to take away some of the coolness of their music, and explained a lot about why they didn’t get much respect as a “serious” band.
This was of course ridiculous, because the more I listen to their music – especially after finding some of their original albums – the more I come to the conclusion that Paul Revere and the Raiders were an exceptionally capable rock band, and that their fusion of garage fuzz and pop hooks (aided by Lindsay’s excellent vocals) was some of the best music of the era.
Their place in history is largely problematic because they persisted in their commercial tomfoolery well past the point where rockers started to take themselves seriously (even the Monkees got to flex their progressive/artistic side) and as a result had just about zero underground cred in an era where almost nothing was more important for a rock band. No matter that a huge percentage of “serious” bands specialized in self-indulgent music that was in the long run largely forgettable.
The Raiders committed what was in the late-60’s the ultimate artistic sin of staying AM when many of their contemporaries (and most newer bands) had gone FM.
What I’m here to say, is that the time is long since due for a reconsideration of the Raiders as a band who maintained an unpretentious approach to making quality sounds in an era where pretention was running amuck.
‘The Great Airplane Strike’ is a perfect example of the kind of stuff they were capable of. Listen to this record, and then go into your crates and pull out an album by a ‘heavier’ band like Moby Grape and play them side by side. If you remove the spectre of the Raiders as pop-TV clowns, there’s not that much separating the two.
As always, I hope you dig the tune, and I’ll be back later in the week.