Way back in February, Peter wrote a Night Music piece on Paul Revere and the Raiders and I started to write this very article I am now updating.
I saw the band a couple of times in the early 60’s, opening for the Beach Boys, who played Sacramento a lot. In fact I was at the show that became The Beach Boys in Concert, and the Raiders played that gig.
The Raiders, headed by Paul Revere, were a more than entertaining collection of players who knocked out some very good pop hits. Just Like Me, Kicks, Louie Louie, and Him or Me, What’s it Gonna Be?, to name some.
But, Revere and band hold kind of a funny and dubious place in history.
At the time the first wave of British bands were washing onto the American shore and airwaves, the head of A&R at Columbia Records was none other than Mitch Miller. You know, the Sing Along With Mitch guy, who had a Van Dyke to give the illusion of beatnik coolness, but who in reality was as square as they come.
Convinced that long hair and Brit Pop were just a passing fancy, Miller dissuaded the Columbia powers that the company should not sign any of the zillion bands just waiting to be discovered, and by the time it was realized this was a business/tactical error, The Raiders were the first band signed, for a million clams.
Not that the band was bad: they were just a lot different than the British invasion bands.
Miller skedaddled from Columbia, and Clive Davis took over to a pretty successful run, but the plan definitely waylaid the company for a few years.
Anyway, Revere, the leader, passed away Saturday, perfectly enough at the age of ’76, and irrespective of Miller’s acumen, the Raiders were excellent showmen and musicians and songwriters.
I will leave you with a taste: Hungry.
I always liked ’em too. It might be facile to say they were a cross between the Monkees and the Stones but I’ll say it anyway. They had a lot in common with the Animals including songwriters. Columbia didn’t let them play their own instruments on records, using the Wrecking Crew instead, but they were a working and playing band in the Northwest from 1962. Columbia did the same thing to the Byrds (except for McGuin’s electric 12-string). But then the Wrecking Crew made a lot of great records, giving the lie to the professionalism-is-the-enemy argument of Lester Bangs and others. I agree with that argument but only after the 60’s. Early on and right up to about Woodstock, dozens of the greatest rocknroll songs were played by session musicians, including many who didn’t like rocknroll at all. And yet they rocked LAMF. Professionalism is not the enemy. Aspiring to mediocrity is the enemy.
This is one of their good non-single songs, maybe it was the flip side of something: