The release of The Essential Paul Revere & The Raiders begs the question, does the world need another compilation album by this band. Their compilation releases began on vinyl during the mid-1960s and has continued on cassettes, 8-tracks, MP3 downloads, and CD’s. The official compilation album total is now somewhere between 15 and 20.
Paul Revere & The Raiders produced some of the better songs to inhabit the American singles charts, 1965-1973. For hard core fans, they did have a top 40 hit during 1961 with “”Like, Long Hair.” Hit songs such as “Just Like Me,” “Kicks,” “Hungry,” “Him Or Me – What’s It Gonna Be,” “I Had A Dream,” “Too Much Talk,” and “Indian Reservation” were all polished, catchy, and melodic, plus have stood the test of time well. The problem is they have been released dozens of times.
The Essential Paul Revere & The Raiders is the latest entry into their compilation sweepstakes. It gathers 36 of their tracks onto a two-disc set. All their hits are present, plus some album tracks, and a few oddities from their vast catalogue.
The over proliferation of their better known material makes some of their lesser known songs stand out. 1967’s “Mo’reen” contains one of the stronger vocals of Mark Lindsay’s career. “Goin’ To Memphis” was cut by Lindsay but finally issued under the group name. “Freeborn Man” from 1969 is also another welcome addition. A real oddity was “My Wife Can’t Cook.” Every once in a while they would record a song that was so bad or unusual; it would make you think or hope they were kidding. Find a copy of their “B.F.D.R.F. Blues,” which was released as the B side of “Just Like Me,” as a prime example.
Their early 1970s post “Indian Reservation” singles are also presented. “Birds Of A Feather,” “Country Wine,” “Powder Blue Mercedes Queen,” and “Song Seller” may not be as good as their mid-1960’s series of hits, but they are fine examples of early 1970s pop.
The main problem for this release is that it has been done better in the past. 1990’s The Legend Of Paul Revere gathers 55 tracks on 2 discs and includes excellent liner notes. It remains a definitive release of their music. Last year saw the release of the Complete Columbia Singles, which was 3-discs and 66 tracks, which included all their 45 rpm A and B sides. I can’t help but think it’s more essential than their latest release.
There is nothing wrong with the sound or music on The Essential Paul Revere & The Raiders. It’s a nice introduction to their career. The decision of whether to purchase this CD will depend on how much of the material a person has accumulated in the past. It is a good if not essential release.