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A Little Love In Her Heart: “She Did It” Spotlights Songs of Jackie DeShannon

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Jackie DeShannon - She Did ItThat Jackie DeShannon is one of the most gifted singer-songwriters in popular music should come as no surprise to anybody reading this. Equally skilled at interpreting her own songs as well as those of others, the multi-talented Miss DeShannon was the concerned yet optimistic voice of “What the World Needs Now is Love,” the flower-power spokeswoman who implored you to “Put a Little Love in Your Heart,” one of the first Ladies of the Canyon, and one-half of the songwriting team behind the eternally sensual “Bette Davis Eyes.” And that’s just naming a few of her accomplishments. Ace Records has celebrated DeShannon’s career on a series of her complete Liberty and Imperial singles as well as on a series of volumes recognizing her songwriting, the second of which has recently arrived. Take one glance at the list of artists populating She Did It! The Songs of Jackie DeShannon Volume 2 to get an idea of the breadth of her songwriting’s reach: The Carpenters, Marianne Faithfull, The Righteous Brothers, Olivia Newton-John, The Ronettes, Tammy Grimes, Kim Carnes (of course). The first volume, Break-A-Way: The Songs of Jackie DeShannon 1961-1967, had 27 of the more than 300 songs in her catalogue. In true Ace fashion, this set adds another 26, from the familiar (Carnes’ “Bette Davis Eyes”) to the obscure (Broadway star Grimes’ previously unissued “The Greener Side,” and the very first DeShannon cover, Brenda Lee’s bouncy, twangy “My Baby Likes Western Guys”). As DeShannon wrote as both a solo composer-lyricist and with other tunesmiths, there’s plenty of variety here, too.

Though most of Jackie’s songs from her halcyon days emanated from Metric Music, California’s answer to the Brill Building, they often ended up in surprising places. She Did It kicks off with southern soul singer supreme Doris Duke tackling the rootsy “Bad Water,” co-written by the “Put a Little Love in Your Heart” team of Jackie, her brother Randy Myers and singer Jimmy Holiday, as produced by Swamp Dogg in Alabama and arranged by Philadelphia’s Richard Rome. She Did It also spotlights the team’s aforementioned now-standard “Put a Little Love in Your Heart” as sung with equal parts passion and funk by ex-Edwin Hawkins Singers vocalist Dorothy Morrison and Holiday’s own, soulful rendition of 1969’s “Yesterday Died.” A true rarity comes from Myers’ band dubbed Raga and the Talas by Liberty Records imprint World Pacific. Jackie supplied her brother with “My Group and Me” in 1966, arranged in a then-cutting-edge Eastern-influenced style.

One of the most versatile of songwriters, She Did It features songs in pop, R&B, country and folk modes. In the latter, there are particularly wonderful discoveries in Bay Area duo Joe and Eddie’s “Depend on Yourself,” arranged by Leon Russell, Marianne Faithfull’s haunting 1966 rendition of Jackie’s “With You in Mind,” and an early recording by Delaney Bramlett of Delaney and Bonnie: the propulsive folk-rocker “You Have No Choice,” superbly produced as well as written by Jackie! As fans of her “Splendor in the Grass” with The Byrds know, DeShannon was a top proponent of the folk-rock sound. She Did It features another rarity in this vein, the very first 45 by beloved voice Olivia Newton-John: a version of Jackie’s “Till You Say You’ll Be Mine,” dating from 1966 – long before Grease and even before Toomorrow!

Jackie’s 1975 Columbia album New Arrangement, produced by Michael Stewart, proved a fertile source for a number of cover versions, three of which are included here. Rita Coolidge quickly latched onto the beautifully wistful “I Wanted It All,” co-written by Jackie and John Bettis. And then there’s “Bette Davis Eyes.” DeShannon admits in her sensational track-by-track recollections that producer Stewart envisioned the song as a shuffle, leaving it to producer Val Garay six years later to bring out the sex and the sass in the DeShannon/Donna Weiss tune. Kim Carnes’ raspy vocal was a perfect fit, and the song won Song of the Year and Record of the Year in addition to remaining atop the charts for nine weeks. It wasn’t a bad ending at all for a song which didn’t live up to its potential in its first recording. DeShannon had enlisted Brian Wilson for the background vocals on New Arrangement’s dreamy “Boat to Sail,” a song on which he’s actually name-checked in the lyrics. When The Carpenters revisited the escapist ode one year later in the version included here, the brother and sister duo brought their inimitable style to it. Karen’s invitingly warm and pure vocal evokes relaxed nostalgia, supported by Richard’s beautifully understated, tranquil orchestration.

Six songs here hail from the fruitful, early partnership of DeShannon and Sharon Sheeley including “It’s Just Terrible” (trust me, it isn’t) by Everly Brothers sound-alikes The Kalin Twins, the martial yet sensual ballad “Don’t Put Your Heart in His Hand” from young Kiki Dee, and the raucous “He Did It” from the pre-Phil Spector Ronettes. DeShannon and Sheeley’s “The Other Side of Town” is sung by P.J. Proby in full-on Elvis mode. If you ever wondered what The King might have sounded like crashing an uptown soul session by the likes of Chuck Jackson or Tommy Hunt, wonder no more. Here’s Proby as Elvis in a background of slashing, swirling strings and horns, doing full justice to the big ballad. Darlene Love has the lead on Spector’s production of “I Shook the World” for Bob B. Soxx and the Blue Jeans, but the fine liner notes reveal that the vocals were merely overdubbed on Jackie’s original demo as arranged by Spector’s usual right-hand, Jack Nitzsche.

There’s much more after the jump! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

October 22, 2014 at 10:25

Wilco Celebrate 20 Years with Compilation, Rarities Box Set

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Wilco - What's Your 20Roger Wilco! We’ve received the transmission that, on November 17, two new collections will celebrate the 20th anniversary of Chicago alt-rock band Wilco in high style!  Nonesuch Records will issue Alpha Mike Foxtrot, a new box set (4 CDs, 4 LPs or digital) of rare studio and live recordings culled from the band’s archives.  And on that same date, the label will offer What’s Your 20, the first-ever compendium of Wilco’s previously released studio recordings, on 2 CDs or digital.

Formed from the ashes of Uncle Tupelo, Wilco began in a similar alt-country vein before expanding its sonic palette to touch upon folk, rock, punk, avant-garde experimentalism and vintage pop textures.   Though the alt-rockers’ lineup shifted frequently during its first decade, the band has been stable since 2004 with a line-up consisting of vocalist/guitarist Jeff Tweedy, bassist John Stirratt, guitarist Nels Cline, multi-instrumentalist Pat Sansone, keyboardist Mikael Jorgensen and drummer Glenn Kotche. Since its inception, Wilco has released eight studio albums, a live double album, and collaborative albums with both Billy Bragg and The Minus 5 (the “floating line-up” supergroup which featured Scott McCaughey, The Posies’ Ken Stringfellow and R.E.M.’s Peter Buck on the Wilco project).  Wilco picked up two Grammy Awards in 2005 for A Ghost is Born, and has received four further nominations over the years, most recently for 2012’s The Whole Love.

Both of these upcoming collections have been produced by Grammy-nominated producer Cheryl Pawelski, co-founder of Omnivore Recordings and veteran of countless projects from labels including Capitol and Rhino. Pawelski notes in the press release, “Like a lot of fans, I had collected these straggling tracks over the past two decades of following Wilco’s every move. Alpha Mike Foxtrot includes almost every unique, essential performance that appeared on soundtracks, tribute albums and B-sides—and there are probably a few surprises for even the sharpest collector. This set presents an alternate history of the band, kind of a sideways view, and ultimately, it’s a super-fun listening experience.”

We have more details on these sets, as well as pre-order links and the full track listings, after the jump! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

October 20, 2014 at 13:02

Review: Pugwash, “A Rose in a Garden of Weeds” (Or: The Best Band You Never Heard?)

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Pugwash

Pugwash is currently wrapping up its first-ever U.S. tour with two more performances scheduled in Los Angeles: this Sunday, October 19, on a bill alongside Wings’ great guitarist Laurence Juber and Now Sounds’ musical guru and all-around renaissance man Steve Stanley; and next Friday, October 24, with Love Revisited!  If you’re in the area, you just might want to check the lads out!

The first track on the first-ever North American release by Irish band Pugwash implores “Take Me Away,” but where to? A Rose in a Garden of Weeds: A Preamble Through the History of Pugwash, Omnivore Recordings’ new 17-track anthology drawn from five studio releases and one single originally issued between 1999 and 2011, will take you away to a world of jangly guitars, rich harmonies, unabashedly catchy melodies, bright productions, and vibrant colors, all delivered in a voice eerily reminiscent of Electric Light Orchestra hero Jeff Lynne. That voice belongs to Thomas Walsh, who much as Lynne did for ELO, wrote, sang, produced and played multiple instruments for Pugwash. A Rose in a Garden of Weeds, however, transcends pastiche – which, let’s face it, takes a great deal of skill to do well, anyway. It’s best experienced as a continuation of the story begun by The Beatles and continued by bands from ELO to XTC – as well as a number of other groups with more than three letters in their names.  Pugwash fits squarely in this tradition of smart, polished and exuberant guitar-pop practitioners unafraid to utilize the studio and all of the instruments it can house, among them organ, mellotron, sleigh bells, woodblock, harpsichord, strings, horns, vibes, glockenspiel, kazoo, and enough guitars and keyboards to sate even the most gargantuan musical appetite.

If “Take Me Away” is pitch-perfect ELO by way of The Byrds with a SMiLE-era Beach Boys interlude (and adding to the verisimilitude, Nelson Bragg of The Brian Wilson Band and The Now People plays on the track), the sounds in this Garden are, in truth, a rather diverse lot. This is in no small part due to the varied personnel. Sonic auteur Walsh is joined by a rotating cast on these tracks; Keith Farrell is the second most constant presence on a variety of instruments including Moog, Hammond organ and bass. The current band-line up with Tosh Flood (guitar/keyboards), Shaun McGee (bass) and Joe Fitzgerald (drums) is also represented. Andy Partridge and Dave Gregory of XTC drop by for good measure, and Jason Falkner of Jellyfish and TV Eyes adds various instruments to a number of tracks.

Falkner’s VOX Continental organ rides a cascade of acoustic and electric guitars, including Stephen Farrell’s George Harrison-esque inspired slide, on “Keep Movin’ On,” a wonderfully anthemic power-pop ode to perseverance. Another Beatle, John Lennon, is called to mind on the sincere, aching “Finer Things in Life,” on which Geoff Woods’ cello and strings add subtle elegance. Walsh has a knack for rhythmic yet attractive ballads, such as the yearning, vulnerable “Here” and the title track. The Section Quartet adds the baroque string ornamentation worthy of George Martin to both of those songs. (The liner notes tell us that the strings for “Rose” were recorded in Abbey Road 38 years to the day after “Tomorrow Never Knows.” Something was definitely in the air.) “Fall Down,” tinged with pretty melancholy, and the dynamic “Answers on a Postcard” – perhaps the most wonderfully realized production on this collection – pick up right where the Fab Four and ELO left off, and that’s intended as a high compliment, indeed. “Answers” incorporates some fleeting Brian Wilson-esque touches, too, and the master’s sonic approach is echoed, but not strictly recreated, on the effervescent, blissfully childlike “It’s Nice to Be Nice.”

Don’t miss a thing – hit the jump to keep reading! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

October 17, 2014 at 12:30

Posted in Compilations, News, Pugwash, Reviews

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A Case of Joni: Mitchell Curates New Love-Themed, Career-Spanning Box Set

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Joni - Love Has Many FacesIn 2007, Joni Mitchell released her last studio album to date, Shine.  That release was her first recording since 2002’s Travelogue and first collection of new songs since 1998’s Taming the Tiger.  Over the past seven years, the influential singer-songwriter has mainly made headlines for her candid and revealing interviews, on which she’s held forth about such topics as Bob Dylan’s alleged plagiarism and her own struggles with Morgellons disease.  So it’s refreshing that Mitchell is back in the spotlight for her music, thanks to a new box set to arrive just in time for the holiday gift-giving season.  On November 17, Rhino will release a new four-disc collection entitled Love Has Many Faces: A Quartet, A Ballet, Waiting to Be Danced.

In the tradition of past compilations curated by Mitchell including The Beginning of Survival, Dreamland and Songs of a Prairie Girl, Love Has Many Faces promises to be a thematic exploration of the artist’s poetic, soulful and jazz-inflected music created over the decades.  The set includes 53 newly-remastered songs selected from her catalogue which began with 1968’s David Crosby-produced album Song to a Seagull and has encompassed such acknowledged classics as Ladies of the Canyon (1970), Blue (1971), Court and Spark (1974) and Both Sides Now (2000).  It’s promised that the remastered songs on Love will be “familiar but fresh,” with “a lot of sonic adjustment.” In a press release, Mitchell elaborated, “I am a painter who writes songs. My songs are very visual. The words create scenes …What I have done here is to gather some of these scenes (like a documentary filmmaker) and by juxtaposition, edit them into a whole new work.”

As the title indicates, the box set was initially conceived for the ballet stage.  “I wanted the music to feel like a total work – a new work,” Mitchell writes in the liner notes. “No matter what I did, though, at that [ballet performance] length, it remained merely a collection of songs.”  So the artist rearranged 53 songs into “thematic acts” like that of a ballet. Comparing her to that of a film editor, she offers, “I had 40 years of footage to review. Then, suddenly, scenes began to hook up. Then series began to form.” She elucidates, “Instead of it being an emotional roller coaster ride as it was before — crammed into one disc — themes began to develop. Moods sustained. I was getting there…When this long editorial process finally came to rest, I had four ballets or a four-act ballet — a quartet. I also had a box set.”

Hit the jump for more details including the complete track listing and pre-order links! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

October 15, 2014 at 12:06

Release Round-Up: Week of October 7

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Stevie Nicks - 24 Karat

Stevie Nicks, 24 Karat Gold: Songs from the Vault (Reprise)

2-LP Vinyl + Download Card: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Standard Edition CD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

The Fleetwood Mac rock legend dips into her vault for a newly-recorded album of songs composed between 1969 and 1995.  The album features co-production by Dave Stewart and guitar great Waddy Wachtel, and is also available in a deluxe edition exclusive to Nicks’ website.

JMCC

Various Artists, The Classic Christmas Albums (Legacy)

Legacy has a new batch of Classic Christmas Albums, and the Johnny Mathis and Frank Sinatra titles both feature previously unreleased and new-to-CD music unavailable anywhere else!  Click on the above link for full track listings and order links for all eight titles from artists also including Barbra Streisand, Perry Como, Il Divo and more!

SL

Shelby Lynne, I Am Shelby Lynne: Deluxe 15th Anniversary Edition (Rounder) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Rounder has reissued the 1999 debut of country-pop troubadour Shelby Lynne on 2 discs, expanding the original album on CD with six previously unreleased bonus tracks and adding a DVD of Lynne’s 2000 concert recorded at Los Angeles’ House of Blues!

TV Eyes

TV Eyes, TV Eyes (Omnivore) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

In 2006, Jason Falkner and Roger Joseph Manning, Jr., both of Jellyfish, joined with composer Brian Reitzell (Lost in Translation, Hannibal)  in TV Eyes.  The band’s debut album was only released in Japan, however…until now!  Omnivore’s reissue features the nine tracks from TV Eyes, plus 3 bonus tracks from the Japanese only EP Softcore—each of which is a song from TV Eyes, remixed by a member of the band. This set also includes the first CD appearance of “She’s A Study,” which was featured in the film Lost In Translation, and previously only available on a white label promo 12” single a decade ago.  TV Eyes is also available on double-vinyl with a download card, with the first pressing on translucent yellow vinyl!  Both the CD and LP formats boast photos and liner notes from Falkner.

Sleeping Beauty - Legacy Collection

Sleeping Beauty: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack – The Legacy Collection (Walt Disney Records) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Walt Disney Records’ deluxe Legacy Collection series continues for this release coinciding with today’s arrival of a Blu-ray reissue of Sleeping Beauty!  This new presentation on 2 CDs adds previously unissued demos and Lost Chords performances of those demos, as well as a couple of rare tracks previously available only on LP.

Batman TV

Batman: Exclusive Original Television Soundtrack Album (Mercury/UMe)

CD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Vinyl: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Holy Soundtracks, Batman!  In anticipation of next month’s long-awaited release of the campy, star-studded Batman television series of the 1960s on Blu-ray and DVD, Mercury has brought this groovy 1966 LP back into print on both CD and vinyl.  Originally released on 20th Century Records, this disc includes Neal Hefti’s iconic theme song and Nelson Riddle’s swingin’ orchestral score together with dialogue from Adam West, Burt Ward, Frank Gorshin, Burgess Meredith and George Sanders!

Butterfield

The Paul Butterfield Blues Band, The Paul Butterfield Blues Band / Peter, Paul and Mary, In the Wind (Audio Fidelity)

The Paul Butterfield Band: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Peter, Paul and Mary: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Audio Fidelity has two more classic albums on hybrid stereo SACD – the 1965 debut of Paul Butterfield’s searing blues-rock outfit and Peter, Paul and Mary’s chart-topping third album, from 1963!  Steve Hoffman remasters Peter, Paul and Mary, and Kevin Gray handles Butterfield!  These discs will play on all CD players, and will play in high-resolution on those equipped for SACD.

Best of Stylistics

The Stylistics, Best of The Stylistics and More: 30th Anniversary Edition (Amherst) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K. )

Amherst celebrates 30 years of The Stylistics’ first anthology by adding three new tracks to the original 10-song line-up.  New songs are “Because of You,” “My Heart” and “What Ever It Takes,” while the Philly soul classics still feature Thom Bell and Linda Creed classics like “You Are Everything,” “Betcha By Golly Wow,” “People Make the World Go Round” and “You Make Me Feel Brand New.”

Monkees in Mono

The Monkees, The Monkees in Mono (Friday Music) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Are you a believer?  The Monkees’ first five mono LPs are boxed up in this new collection from Friday Music featuring 180-gram heavyweight vinyl reissues of The Monkees, More of the Monkees, Headquarters, Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd., and The Birds, The Bees & The Monkees.

Review: Spanky and Our Gang, “The Complete Mercury Singles”

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Spanky and Our Gang - SinglesBetween 1966 and 1970, Spanky and Our Gang released three studio albums, one greatest-hits collection, one live set and 21 single sides. Though the gang was, in Spanky McFarlane’ s words, “eclectic as hell”– they covered John Denver and The Music Man on their first LP alone – they’re best remembered for three AM radio staples released in 1967 and 1968: “Sunday Will Never Be the Same,” “Lazy Day” and “Like to Get to Know You.” These three tunes are inextricably tied to the period in which they were recorded, yet are timeless evocations today of that era in which anything was musically possible. Despite the quality of the band’s album material, however, it can be fairly said that Spanky’s outfit (named, of course, after Hal Roach’s gang of Little Rascals!) was a “singles band,” making Real Gone Music’s release of The Complete Mercury Singles (RGM-0270) a particularly felicitous one.

This superlative 21-track anthology spans the period between 1966’s “And Your Bird Can Sing” b/w “Sealed with a Kiss” and 1969’s “Echoes (Everybody’s Talkin’)” and traces the evolution of the group. Spanky McFarlane, Paul “Oz” Bach and Nigel Pickering first joined together in Florida and then reunited in Chicago before being discovered by prolific Philadelphia producer Jerry Ross (“The 81,” “1-2-3,” “98.6” – seems he had a thing for numbers!). The trio was joined by Malcolm Hale (of The New Wine Singers) for their first recording session at Mercury Records, the label with which Ross was then affiliated.

The Complete Mercury Singles begins not with the sound of shimmering sunshine pop but with a rather brisk but largely straightforward cover of The Beatles’ “If Your Bird Can Sing” and an update of Gary Geld and Peter Udell’s Brian Hyland oldie “Sealed with a Kiss.” Arranged like “Bird” by prolific Philly-based arranger Joe Renzetti (who would later pen the string chart for Barry Manilow’s “Mandy” and pick up an Oscar for The Buddy Holly Story), “Sealed” was beefed up with a strong drum rhythm while strings kept the track appropriately ethereal. Still, neither side captured the zany, theatrical and eclectic quality that had made the group a standout on Chicago’s stages or effectively utilized the band’s foremost weapon: Spanky’s distinctive, powerful voice, a kind of combination of Grace Slick’s husk and Cass Elliot’s big belt. She was out front on the A-side of the group’s second single, “Sunday Will Never Be the Same” – and Spanky and Our Gang’s career would never be the same, either.

Gene Pistilli and Terry Cashman’s melancholy reflection of a love lost was originally conceived as a ballad and included on the duo’s Bound to Happen LP, but another Philly native, arranger Jimmy “Wiz” Wisner, turned it into a dynamic, ironically upbeat, pure-pop reverie. Ross and Wisner employed the cream of New York’s session players on the record and brought not only Spanky’s voice to the fore, but the Gang’s intricate vocal harmonies (somewhat recalling The Mamas and the Papas, one of the groups originally pitched the song by Cashman and Pistilli.) Released just a few months prior to the Summer of Love, it was an ideal, sunny soundtrack to that blissed-out period.

John Morier’s uptempo, positive “Making Every Minute Count” was the immediate follow-up to “Sunday,” but the real stylistic sequel was on the very next 45: Wisner’s arrangement of “Lazy Day” from writers George Fischoff (the Broadway musical Georgy) and Tony Powers (an early collaborator of Ellie Greenwich’s). Fischoff and Powers had written the Top 10 hit “98.6” for Keith, produced by Ross and arranged by Renzetti, in late 1966. The ebullient “Lazy Day,” with its happy, pastoral imagery, captured the zeitgeist of the era, and did almost as well as “98.6.”

The flip of “Lazy Day,” “(It Ain’t Necessarily) Byrd Avenue” introduced the names of Bob Dorough and Stu Scharf to a Spanky and Our Gang single; soon they would take over for producer Ross upon his departure from Mercury. Dorough brought with him a jazz background, and Scharf one in jazz. Both qualities would inform their work with Spanky and Our Gang. The infectious “Byrd Avenue,” also recorded by the Harmony Grass and the Serendipity Singers, married a breezy melody and bossa nova-inspired arrangement to some rather absurdist wordplay; it’s actually a stronger side than some of the tracks chosen as A-sides!

Hit the jump for more! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

October 6, 2014 at 12:17

In Memoriam: Paul Revere (1938-2014)

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The official website of Paul Revere and the Raiders has just confirmed the passing of group leader Paul Revere at the age of 76.  Today, we remember Revere for the timeless music he created with Mark Lindsay,  Phil “Fang” Volk, Mike “Smitty” Smith, Drake “The Kid” Levin, Freddy Weller, Joe Correro, Jr. and Keith Allison – songs like “Kicks,” “Hungry,” “Just Like Me,” “Good Thing” and so many others, all of which reminded listeners besotted with the British Invasion that Americans still knew a thing or two about rock and roll!  Long after the group had called it a day in the recording studio, Revere kept the band’s name, music and spirit alive through continuous touring right up to the present day including annual visits to Walt Disney World’s Epcot.  Though the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has inexplicably overlooked the rich and varied legacy of The Raiders, the band’s music endures as some of the most exciting of its era – or any other.

We’re republishing our March 18, 2011 review of The Essential Paul Revere and the Raiders and Country Wine…Plus in memory of a great musician and beloved artist, Paul Revere.  Rest in peace.

If kicks just keep getting harder to find, fear not! The deep catalogue of Paul Revere and the Raiders has just gotten much easier to find, thanks to two new releases. Legacy’s The Essential Paul Revere and the Raiders has just hit stores, while Raven Australia has brought to CD the band’s final released album for Columbia Records, Country WineThe Essential spans 1963 and 1972 and covers “where the action is” (though ironically not the song “Action!”).  Country Wine reflects the sound of a band adapting with the disappearing AM radio format that afforded them so many hit records.

The Essential Paul Revere and the Raiders (Columbia/Legacy 88697 81565-2) represents the best domestic release on the group currently available. While single-disc compilations are available as imports, this does Raven’s Kicks: The Anthology and Rev-Ola’s Hungry for Kicks: Singles and Choice Cuts 1965-1969 one better. Over its thirty-six tracks compiled by producer and mastering engineer Bob Irwin of Sundazed, The Essential takes listeners from the Raiders’ garage roots in 1963 to the polished pop sheen of their latter-day singles including the 1971 chart-topper “Indian Reservation,” surprisingly the group’s first No. 1 single.

Dominic Priore’s fine new liner notes recount the story of the Raiders, anchored by Paul Revere (organ/piano) and Mark Lindsay (vocals/saxophone). And yes, that really was Paul Revere’s real name; he was born Paul Revere Dick and simply dropped his surname. One of the most successful bands to come out of the fertile Pacific Northwest music scene, the Raiders first came to national recognition in 1963 on the strength of their rendition of Richard Berry’s “Louie, Louie,” the first track on the new compilation. Unfortunately, The Kingsmen got to it around the same time (it’s lost to time as to which version was released first), and reached No. 2 on the charts.  The Raiders’ version stalled at No. 103. Revere’s recording is somewhat less primal than the Kingsmen’s, but established the group’s garage punk sound, rooted in hard-driving rhythm and blues. The band’s tastes were eclectic, though; Allen Toussaint’s “Over You” and “Ride Your Pony” deftly display a funky side. 1965’s “Steppin’ Out,” co-written by Revere and Lindsay and produced by Terry Melcher, really set the wheels in motion for the group’s biggest successes, and coincided with the band being selected by Dick Clark to appear on his ABC after-school program, Where the Action Is!

Revere and the Raiders defied the British invasion, going so far as to make Revolutionary War costumes (inspired by Revere’s name, natch) their de facto attire. And while their music had similarities to British acts like The Kinks and The Animals, those bands were influenced by the same tough American R&B as Revere’s group. After “Steppin’ Out” and its No. 65 chart placement, the hits just kept on coming, and so Disc 1 of The Essential is all-killer, no-filler. “Just Like Me” topped its predecessor at No. 11, with a prominent organ part keeping the band true to its garage sound. Much as he helped foment the folk-rock sound with The Byrds, Terry Melcher surely deserves much of the credit for shaping the sonic signature of Paul Revere and the Raiders, although he never boxed them into one style. Continue reading after the jump! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

October 5, 2014 at 01:11

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