Paul Revere and The Raiders – You Read That Right – Live at The Arcada Theater – St. Charles, IL
Somewhere between The Byrds and The Beach Boys, between “Louie, Louie” and “Let Me,” between “Ooh Poo Pah Doo” and “Indian Reservation,” lives one of America’s greatest rock & roll bands. I won’t go into the litany of how/why Paul Revere and the Raiders fell from grace (HINT: the suits at Columbia Records despised their 1967 holiday tome “A Christmas Present…And Past” because it was NOT a Jim Nabors knockoff…nay, it was a PROTEST ALBUM!!!), nor how the greatest white R&B show band of all time slumped into Bubblegum Hell at the behest of an adamant Dick Clark. But it’s a pretty amazing tale.
No, this is the story of Uncle Paul Revere’s ongoing ride through constant, grinding, ‘overnight success’ with a handful of musicians that, in two cases, have been with him for nearly the entire 35 years since he and intense lead vocalist Mark Lindsay parted ways. It almost doesn’t matter that Revere (now 72, and does NOT look it) and his colonial troupe barely squeaked off 15 tunes in the 1 hour-40 minute set…nor that they really didn’t finish more than a handful of their hits. I guess it doesn’t even matter that too few of us remember Phil “Fang” Volk, the band’s intensely happy, melodic, inventive bassist…nor his late bandmates from Brotherhood (the group they split off to form, in mid-1967, when The Raiders ruled the pop album chart with SPIRIT OF ’67 from the Christmas ’66 season through the advent of SGT. PEPPER’S LONELY HEARTS CLUB BAND, minus the two weeks in which The Monkees’ first original album HEADQUARTERS popped): guitarist Drake Levin and drummer Mike “Smitty” Smith, both of whom no longer are with us physically…but oh, that legacy of early recordings!!
What matters is that Revere is one of the funniest, most entertaining cats on the planet. Definitely blessed with a Jerry Lewis-cum-Robin Williams (with a shprutz of Victor Borge) comic genius, he fires off more sight gags, tall tales, anecdotes, antidotes, and old-folks gags than any five Marx Brothers. And he can still honky-tonk “Like, Longhair” too!! The band’s first hit, now 51 years old, laid down a boogie-woogie groove that alone stands Revere in great stead for this publication.
Is it “cool” to be a Raiders fan? Probably not.
But I’ll tell ya what: Steve Miller’s latest release “BINGO!” includes the Raiders’ version of “Ooh Poo Pah Doo,” and I even have it in writing that Miller STOLE the tune from the lads!! What makes it cool, actually, is that Miller and Revere are/have been neighbors in Idaho. (To anyone who loves early 60s rock & roll, and true American garage pop, buy “MOJO WORKOUT!” right now: recorded about 15 minutes after the band signed its label deal with Columbia, a live recording was made to a house full of frat rats, boppers, and clean-cut rockers, and ALL the songs we had to learn, back then, are on it. Lindsay’s vocals and saxophone work are astonishing, the heat and the fun are measurable, and You Can’t Sit Down!)
And, in all candor, I’ll take “Hungry” over “Abracadabra” any day of the week…choreography, ‘fruity suits’ (as Revere calls their outfits) and all. I strongly suggest you check ’em out at Branson or wherever, ASAP.