Earlier this week, the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame inducted its Class of 2010 in a ceremony at New York's Waldorf Astoria. As could be expected, this year's inductees — which included the likes of Jimmy Cliff, Abba, Genesis, The Hollies and roughly half of the songwriters from the old Brill Building — generated the usual howls of protest from certain corners of the rock and roll blogosphere.
Last fall when the 2010 nominees were first announced, a number of Blogcritics writers — including yours truly — thought it might be fun to offer up our own Rock Hall Picks. Amongst a deserving group of artists that also included The Cure, Rush, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Tom Waits, my own pick at the time was Alice Cooper.
So with the nominating process for the Class of 2011 now probably well underway, I'd like to submit another pick: Paul Revere And The Raiders.
My first ever rock concert was a Paul Revere And The Raiders show in 1967 at the old Seattle Center Coliseum. It was one of those old Dick Clark style rock and roll showcase of stars deals, only in this case it was being promoted by Seattle Top 40 radio powerhouse KJR, and its number one jock, the legendary Pat O'Day.
I can't remember exactly who else was on the bill (though I'm pretty sure Tommy Boyce And Bobby Hart and Keith Allison were there), but Paul Revere And the Raiders were the headliners. What I do remember, though, was being accompanied to the concert by my grandma, since at age eleven I wasn't yet old enough to go to rock concerts by myself.
Another thing that stands out in my memory was all the screaming girls. The high-pitched din was so deafening you couldn't even hear the band. Since the Beatles had already stopped touring to make records like Sgt. Pepper by the time I was old enough to attend rock shows by myself, this was also the last time I ever heard anything like that at a rock show again. By then, the teen idols of the early sixties had been supplanted by the "serious rock" of the Jefferson Airplane and the Doors.
That fact alone may account for the mysterious way the Rock Hall has, at least to this point, chosen to ignore Paul Revere And The Raiders. They were definitely a pre-psychedelic era sort of teen-rock band, complete with a ready-made teen idol in lead vocalist Mark Lindsay. That they were closely associated with Dick Clark-produced shows American Bandstand and especially the short-lived Where The Action Is likely doesn't help their case with Jann Wenner and the other stuffed shirts on the Rock Hall's board of directors either.
On the latter show, the Raiders were essentially the house band on a "beach party" sort of show filmed outside on location at what I want to say was Malibu Beach. Even there, with bikini-clad beach babes running about all over the place in the sand, the Raiders still wore their American Revolution-styled uniforms.
Oh yeah, that's another thing: the uniforms. These went hand-in-hand with the name as part of the Raiders whole American military history gimmick. Mark Lindsay even wore a ponytail to match his red coat, long before L.A. Record company weasels turned ponytails into a 1990's music-biz fashion statement.
Looking at it today in modern terms, the Raiders matching military jackets and boots certainly weren't any sillier looking than what Coldplay wore on the Viva La Vida tour. Even so, by the time the hippies took over rock, the Raiders were no longer taken seriously. What's harder to understand, though, is how or why this "bubblegum image" continues to linger today, or why it should continue to matter.
In purely musical terms, when you listen now to any one of the Raiders' string of hit singles from roughly 1965 to 1967, they hold up as well as anything that a band like, say, the Rolling Stones did during roughly the same period.
It was one hell of a streak, too. Starting with "Steppin' Out (#46)" and continuing on through "Just Like Me (#11)," "Kicks (Top 5)," "Good Thing," "Ups And Downs," "Him Or Me — What's It Gonna' Be" and beyond, Paul Revere And The Raiders were arguably the hottest rock band in America during this time.
The classic lineup — with Lindsay on vocals, Paul Revere on Vox organ, guitarist Drake Levin, bassist Phil "Fang" Volk, and drummer Mike "Smitty" Smith — was also one hell of a garage rock band. Paul Revere And The Raiders may have been unfairly tagged as a top forty, teen pop bubblegum act. But the aforementioned singles rocked as hard as anything by bands like the Troggs, The Seeds or The Electric Prunes. Even today, the Raiders' singles hold up remarkably well.
This probably owes, at least in part, to their roots in the early sixties Northwest rock scene, which also produced such noteworthy precursors to Seattle's grunge sound as the Sonics, the Viceroys and the Wailers. Paul Revere And The Raiders even had an early hit with a cover of the frat-rock classic, "Louie, Louie" — although the Kingsmen's version is admittedly better known. Bottom line is that this alone should put them on the radar of a Rock Hall board member like Underground Garage guru Little Steven Van Zandt. Or, at least you'd think…
Next week, Collectors Choice will be releasing the most complete anthology of Paul Revere And The Raiders ever assembled. Spanning three discs, and some 66 songs, The Complete Columbia Singles features all of the original A and B sides of Paul Revere And The Raiders' singles, as well as rarities like the jingles the band recorded for Chevrolet and the Pontiac GTO.
This includes everything from early tracks like "Louie, Louie" and "Louie Go Home," to the big hits like "Kicks" and "Hungry" (along with lesser known singles like "The Great Airplane Strike"), to latter-day hits like "I Had A Dream," "Mr. Sun, Mr. Moon" and "Indian Reservation." The three-disc collection also includes extensive liner notes with comments by Lindsay, Paul Revere, Fang and the rest, as well as other Raiders alumni like Keith Allison and Jim "Harpo" Valley.
This is a powerhouse collection that provides undisputed proof that there was a lot more to Paul Revere And The Raiders than funny suits and hats. The fact is that they were among the best practitioners of American garage rock of their time, and it's high time the Rock Hall took note.
But if the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame isn't listening — yet! — at least you can.