By Brett Milano
Paul Revere & the Raiders were one of the last 1960s bands to get their catalogue on CD; even longtime holdouts The Beatles had their first CDs out before you could buy a decent Raiders compilation. During the ’80s, fans had to make do with single-disc, no-bonus reissues of “Midnight Ride” and “A Christmas Present…& Past” — oddly, the one original Raiders album that’s been most consistently in print.
1990 brought the first major CBS compilation, “The Legend of Paul Revere,” which, despite good liner notes and a decent track selection, though with pre-and post-peak rarities in place of classic-era album tracks, was something of a botch job. Nearly all the peak-era Columbia tracks were new remixes whose shrill, trebly sound wasn’t appreciated. Still, this remains the only place to get material from the Raiders’ formative, garage-era albums for the Sande and Jerden labels, which have not seen full reissue.
The floodgates opened in the ’90s, as Sundazed reissued every album from 1963’s “Here They Come!” through 1969’s “Alias Pink Puzzm” skipping over the Christmas album, which remained on CBS and later shifted to Koch. These indispensable reissues all have good sound, liner notes with band input and bonus tracks, including most of the B-sides that wind up on the Complete Columbia Singles. “Here They Come!” was expanded to a two-CD set, “Mojo Workout,” with one disc of studio sessions and one of the complete live-in-studio performance that yielded the original LP’s first side (plus the too-filthy-for-release “Crisco Party”). As a document of U.S. garage and frat-house rock just before the Beatles hit, it’s hard to beat.
Meanwhile, CBS atoned for “The Legend of Paul Revere” with two ’90s compilations. For casual fans, “Greatest Hits” was a reissue of the original 1967 compilation, adding the singles that immediately followed it (“Him Or Me…What’s It Gonna Be” and “Peace of Mind”). This was eclipsed by 1995’s “The Essential Ride,” the best single-disc Raiders collection by far. All the mid-’60s hits are here, plus well-chosen album tracks — including the band’s best non-Lindsay song ever, Phil Volk’s “Why? Why? Why” — and a couple of rarities not available elsewhere, including another version of the notorious “Crisco Party,” sheepishly introduced by Beach Boy Bruce Johnston. But the set focuses on the band’s rocking side and leaves out “Indian Reservation” and “Birds of a Feather.” If you want those, you’ll have to find the Raven import, “Kicks! The Anthology 1963-1972.”
This didn’t leave much unissued material for “The Complete Columbia Singles,” but the majority of its mono mixes all make their CD debut, as does the one Columbia single — the Grassroots-sounding “Your Love Is The Only Love” — that came after Lindsay’s departure. As for the later albums, 1970’s “Collage” and 1971’s “Indian Reservation” were just issued by Raven as a two-fer; this leaves 1972’s “Country Wine” as the only Columbia Raiders album that has never been seen on CD. There was also a “lost” album that Lindsay produced just before splitting; some of this material wraps up “The Legend of Paul Revere”). Also missing is “The Great Raider Reunion,” a curious 1984 album that was actually Lindsay re-recording eight Raider hits and his two solo hits, “Arizona” and “Silver Bird” with Nashville session guys. Be warned, however: If you see a cheap Raiders comp on a label you don’t recognize, it’s likely to be drawn from this set.