Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Review: Paul Revere and the Raiders' 'Revolution! Deluxe Expanded Mono Edition'

By just the fifth album credited to Paul Revere and the Raiders, the band had gone from a savage Boise-based garage band to the studio project of singer Mark Lindsay and producer Terry Melcher. This kind of situation may seem inauthentic, but as any Pet Sounds fan will tell you, it doesn’t necessarily result in inferior music. I personally rate Revolution! as the best Raiders record even if it doesn’t contain a track as definitive as “Kicks” from Midnight Ride and isn’t as bloated with hits as Spirit of ’67. Unlike those two largely excellent records, Revolution! doesn’t contain a single bum track. Tough rockers like the hit “Him or Me—What’s It Gonna Be?”, “Make It with Me”, “Mo’reen”, and “Ain’t Nobody who Can Do It Like Leslie Can” (a blues parody with a Revere vocal that is the album’s only contribution from a Raider other than Lindsay) slam with all the power of the band’s early singles. Psychedelic excursions like “I Had a Dream”, “Tighter”, and the magical “I Hear a Voice” make the most of Lindsay and Melcher’s studio arrangement without abandoning the instantly accessible pop craftsmanship essential to the best Raiders cuts.

Like Brian Wilson and The Beatles, Lindsay and Melcher were getting a bit more experimental but still favored the soon-to-be obsolete mono format. The guys had such disregard for the new format that they never even bothered to mix “Wanting You”, “Gone—Movin’ On”, “Make It with Me”, and “Leslie” in stereo, which is the only way Revolution! has been available on CD until now.

For the first time Now Sounds is bringing the mono mix to CD. Long time listeners will discern some distinct changes here and there, most notably the heavier psych effects on “Tighter”. They can compare and contrast without ever having to pop the disc out of the player since all distinct stereo mixes are included as bonus tracks, as are the essential singles “Ups and Downs” and “Legend of Paul Revere” (featured in its extended stereo mix previously on the Sundazed release of Revolution!) and the solid outtake “Try Some of Mine” (ditto).

In terms of packaging, this is an excellent release with all essential period tracks included and superb liner notes with lots of commentary on the songs and recording straight from Mark Lindsay. The sound is a bit of a let down though. Although Alan Brownstein mastered Revolution! from the original master tapes, he made it overly bright and tinny, so even the mono tracks don’t have the weight of the stereo ones on Raven Records’ budget Evolution to Revolution: 5 Classic Albums from 2013. Revolution! Deluxe Expanded Mono Edition is still a historic release: the chance to hear an excellent album in the mix its creators always considered to be the definitive one.  

Get Revolution! Deluxe Expanded Mono Edition on Amazon.com here:

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