Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Review: Paul Revere and the Raiders' 'Evolution to Revolution: 5 Classic Albums'

In the late nineties Sundazed gave its typical loving treatment to the catalog of one of sixties pop’s most misunderstood bands. Because of their goofy persona and embarrassing Revolutionary War stage gear, Paul Revere and the Raiders are sometimes regarded as disposable. Sundazed’s reissues dispelled that belief with some really tough, surprisingly consistent Stonesy pop records presented with fine sound and some terrific bonus outtakes and singles. The group’s first couple of albums with producer Terry Melcher aren’t great, partly because they rely too heavily on covers that can’t top the originals and partly because of a misguided decision to democratize the vocal chores when the group really only had one great singer. And don’t let his little pony tail and bowl cut fool you: Mark Lindsay is one of the sixties’ most expressive white soul howlers. Although there was a bum track or two on the trio of classic LPs that followed (“Melody for an Unknown Girl” is the worst mushy recitation this side of The Monkees’ “The Day We Fall in Love”), Midnight Ride, The Spirit of ’67, and Revolution! are pretty much beyond reproach, still fresh, fun, and full of color 45 years down the trail.

Sadly, some of these classics went out of print in the ensuing years. A new copy of Sundazed’s Revolution!, the group’s most consistent album (though some might contend that Spirit is their best), is currently fetching—no joke—$211.99 on Amazon.com. Gladly, the Australian label Raven Records has just reissued the first five Melcher records as a budget double-disc set. The downside is that there wasn’t room for the bonus tracks, and some of them are really, really essential (the original “Louie, Go Home,” later covered by The Who, the hit “Ups and Downs,” “Try Some of Mine,” “(You’re a) Bad Girl,” “The Legend of Paul Revere”). Also, because of time constraints Midnight Ride is split between the two discs. The upside is that these five albums are available again, and for a much more reasonable price than $211.99. They also sound really good, which is not often the case for budget releases. Plus, listening to disc two, which puts most of Midnight Ride, The Spirit of ’67, and Revolution! back-to-back-to-back, really highlights what a fabulous band Paul Revere and the Raiders were in their peak years. Now maybe Raven can do a comp of those orphaned bonus tracks next, hint, hint

Get Evolution to Revolution: 5 Classic Albums at Amazon.com here:

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