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Paul Revere & the Raiders' Complete Original Columbia Singles

01/06/2010
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Paul Revere & the Raiders put the Pacific Northwest on the rock 'n' roll map with such smash hits as "Steppin' Out," "Kicks," "Hungry," "Just Like Me," "Good Thing," "Him Or Me What's It Going to Be?," "Ups And Downs," "Let Me," "I Had a Dream," "Too Much Talk," "Indian Reservation" and many more 62 A and B sides of singles in all. They were the rare '60s American singles band with true street cred. And on March 23, 2010, Collectors' Choice Music will release Paul Revere & the Raiders Featuring Mark Lindsay: The Complete Original Columbia Singles.

In addition to the 62 commercially released sides, this collection makes available a rare single Paul Revere & the Raiders recorded for Chevrolet (distributed at its dealerships), "SS396" b/w "Corvair Baby," plus two bonus tracks: a commercial for the Pontiac Judge GTO Breakaway street rod and a special record included with Mattel's "Swingy Doll." Many of the songs on the CD have never appeared on CD.

In the tradition of its critically hailed "complete singles" collections for Jan & Dean, Gary Lewis & the Playboys, and Jay & the Americans, all singles appear in their original mono or stereo mixes with ace engineer Bob Irwin working his renowned remastering magic on the original tapes for best-ever, kick-butt sound.

As with the previous Collectors' Choice "complete singles" collections, Ed Osborne produced and annotated the set, gathering insider perspectives from leaders Paul Revere and Mark Lindsay, Raiders Phil "Fang" Volk, Keith Allison, Jim "Harpo" Valley, and manager Ron Hart. The package is festooned with rare photos.

One might not think of Idaho as a hotbed of '50s rhythm & blues, but that's where the young Paul Revere (his real name) and Mark Lindsay listened to 50,000-watt Southern radio stations and obscure singles, idolizing artists like Fats Domino and Ernie K-Doe. Like every hip teen in the NW, they loved Richard Berry's "Louie Louie" and, in April 1963, they and the Raiders recorded and released it on the tiny Sande label. Coincidentally, fellow Northwesterners the Kingsmen had done the same for Wand Records. Ultimately, the Kingsmen won the "Louie Louie" battle, but the Raiders won the record biz war, kicking off a decade-long career as pop hitmakers.

Paul Revere & the Raiders were immediately contacted by a Columbia Records A&R man who defying the wishes of label A&R head Mitch Miller to focus on easy-listening music signed them. Terry Melcher, Columbia's youngest staff producer based in Los Angeles, took a special interest in the band and became, in essence, the group's George Martin.

Unlike many bands of the era, the Raiders played on their own records. Their 1965 breakout single, "Steppin' Out," featured the powerful playing of what is now considered the classic Raiders rhythm line-up: drummer Mike "Smitty" Smith, lead guitarist Drake Levin, and bassist Phil "Fang" Volk.

"Steppin' Out" hit #46 on Billboard on the strength of the strong radio airplay and an ongoing stint on ABC's afterschool TV series Where the Action Is. The show's producer, Dick Clark, promptly put them on the road where they were able to expand their fan base beyond the West Coast. Recognizing their star power, Chevrolet hired them to record theme songs for two of its youth-targeted cars, "SS396" and "Corvair Baby."

On their next hit, "Just Like Me," singer Lindsay adopted the breathy vocals that would become his trademark. The single hit the #11 spot on January 11, 1966. Its follow-up, "Kicks," written by Brill Building denizens Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil, cracked the Top 5. Mann and Weil had written the verses, but the signature guitar riff, later to be emulated by garage bands from coast to coast, came from Drake Levin with expert production by Melcher. Another Mann & Weil tune, "Hungry," gave the gang their second straight Top 10 hit.

In the spring of 1966, Levin was drafted into the National Guard, and fellow Northwest native Jim "Harpo" Valley from Don & the Goodtimes stepped in to replace him. With much of the nation shut down by the airline strike of 1966, Lindsay quickly penned "The Great Airplane Strike," which became a follow-up single, backed with a Volk vocal on "In My Community," which featured Melcher's friend Van Dyke Parks on organ.

The hit streak continued ("Good Thing," "Ups and Downs," Him or Me What's it Going to Be?") and, with the band constantly on tour, Melcher began to hire studio musicians to take up some studio slack. Jack Nitzsche scored the horn section for "Ups and Downs," and long-time "unofficial Raider" Keith Allison later to become a bona fide member played guitar along with Ry Cooder. Also, Wrecking Crew drum legend Hal Blaine began to displace drummer Smitty. The change in musical direction caused disheartened Fang, Smitty and Harpo to resign after a 1967 Ed Sullivan Show appearance. They were replaced by bassist Charlie Coe, drummer Joe Correro Jr., and guitarist Freddy Weller, Southerners all. A new musical influence began to permeate the Pacific Northwest band.

As '60s pop music lyrics began to respond to current events, the Raiders followed suit with songs such as "I Had a Dream," "Peace of Mind," and "Too Much Talk." Melcher left the fold around this time, Lindsay took on production duties, and the hits kept on comin': "Don't Take it So Hard," Cinderella Sunshine," and "Mr. Sun, Mr. Moon." In 1969, Lindsay and Freddy Weller launched solo careers in addition to their duties as Raiders. Rock was changing, but the band had one more charting hit in them, "Indian Reservation," a song which had been previously recorded by Marvin Rainwater, John D. Loudermilk, Ray Acuff Jr., and the Nashville Teens. Artie Butler played organ and Hal Blaine drums on the Raiders version. After a slow start at radio, the record went all the way to #1, the band's biggest hit ever.

In 1975, Revere, Lindsay and Allison played the last Paul Revere & the Raiders gig at Knott's Berry Farm. "Looking back," says Revere, "we really had an incredible
run . . . Any mistakes that were made along the way don't mean s*** after all is said and done. Everything turned out for the best."

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