So Misunderstood: Paul Revere & The Raiders

Bands whose sound changed over the years are often the most fascinating.  It’s one thing to gradually evolve from one style to another, but some bands made abrupt changes throughout their careers.  Of course The Beatles are the barometer by which every other band is measured, and for good reason.  With each album (even in their early years), The Beatles took on new styles or made up new styles if they didn’t see anything around that they liked.  To some extent, The Beach Boys did the same thing, though Brian Wilson‘s creative muse was a little tougher to follow for a number of well-documented reasons.  Not everyone can be a musical vanguard though, and it takes a special band to capitalize on trends as the arise and pass.  That band was Paul Revere & The Raiders.

Don’t get me wrong: the Raiders’ catalogue features some of the best, most clever pop songs ever written, but their frequent changes more strongly reflected a desire to stay relevant than to express some deep inner art.  The band formed in 1958 as The Downbeats, an instrumental combo led by organist Paul Revere Dick.  Revere changed the band’s name to Paul Revere & The Raiders in 1960, after having met vocalist Mark Lindsay.  By 1965, the Raiders had come to the attention of Terry Melcher, who styled them as a uniquely American response to the British Invasion.  The Raiders recorded a number of covers of garage classics, including “Louie Louie,” “Have Love Will Travel” and “Just Like Me,” which gave the group an international hit.  Their quirky colonial costumes and R&B influences made the group stand out, as did their frequent television appearances.  The Raiders were frequent guests on Where The Action Is, and Revere and Lindsay hosted a few of their own variety shows, with skits and performances featuring the band.  Due to their prominent public personas (as well as their almost exclusive use of the equipment), the band landed an endorsement from Vox Amplifiers.  Around the same time, the band released “Kicks,” which remains their best-known song from this era.

In 1967, bassist Phil Volk, guitarist Jim Valley and drummer Mike Smith left the band, upset with Revere and Lindsay’s overreaching control over the group’s direction.  Former guitarist Drake Levin rejoined the band to finish their 1967 spring tour, though he was replaced by Freddy Weller on the group’s only appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show.  That performance found the trio of Volk, Valley and Smith reuniting with the band for one last time.  Revere and Lindsay returned to the airwaves with some more radio and TV work, and Lindsay eventually took over the band in the ’70s.  It was in that decade that the group took on another persona: the psychedelic troubadours.  The band rechristened themselves as simply The Raiders, and recorded a number of songs by protest singer John Loudermilk, most notably “Indian Reservation (The Lament Of The Cherokee Reservation Indian).”  Despite the Raiders’ recaptured success, Lindsay departed soon after for a solo career.

Numerous new wave and punk bands covered Raiders tunes over the years, with their version “I’m Not Your Stepping Stone” being a particular favorite.  To this day, Revere tours with an incarnation of the Raiders that features numerous longtime members (though Lindsay is not one of them).  They can be found performing with Andy Williams and in theaters across the country.

Listen: Paul Revere & The Raiders – “Action” from Just Like Us! (1966)

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~ by E. on July 14, 2010.

One Response to “So Misunderstood: Paul Revere & The Raiders”

  1. I cannot believe this is true!

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