Once a popular 60’s band, The Raiders had to reinvent themselves in the early 70’s to stay relevant, this album being a case in point.
Written by: Eric
ARTIST: The Raiders
ALBUM: Country Wine
CD REISSUE: Discogs Reissue List
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: USA
LINEUP: Mark Lindsay – vocals * Freddy Weller – lead guitar * Keith Allison – bass * Omar Martinez – drums, vocals * Robert Wooley – keyboards
TRACK LISTING: 01 Country Wine * 02 Powder Blue Mercedes Queen * 03 Hungry For Some Lovin’ * 04 Baby Make Up Your Mind * 05 Take A Stand * 06 Where Are Your Children * 07 Ballad Of The Unloved * 08 American Family * 09 Golden Girl Sometimes * 10 Farewell To A Golden Girl
Paul Revere & The Raiders are one of the handful of 60’s pop bands whose early appeal I’ve never quite understood. Their run-of-the-mill garage rock and eighteenth century pre Adam Ant costume shtick couldn’t mask an average band that got lucky several times over with a string of chart singles and a seemingly endless residence on Dick Clark’s ‘American Bandstand’.
By the close of the decade, the group wised up and started playing music worthy of the times, releasing two superb albums, the psychedelic ‘Something Happening’ in 1968, and the bubblegum happy ‘Hard ‘N’ Heavy (With Marshmallow)’. But the hits had stopped coming and by 1971 the boys dropped Paul Revere (who hadn’t been a member of the band for several years) for the more simple and serviceable – The Raiders.
One more hit with ‘Indian Reservation’ gave the group some much needed credibility, but for the kids holed up in their parent’s wood paneled basement sucking on their friend’s water bong and zoning out to Jethro Tull and Led Zeppelin, The Raider’s couldn’t have been more irrelevant.
It was behind this formidable backdrop The Raiders decided to mix it up a bit, avoiding the pre-pubescent appeal of their previous work for a mature sound that wasn’t exactly fist in the air-kick ass rock, but an album that took a direct swipe at bands like Three Dog Night, showing an uninterested public they could do it too.
The title track isn’t the best of starts, but ‘Powder Blue Mercedes Queen’ more than makes up for it with a riff borrowed directly from Mountain‘s ‘Mississippi Queen’. Sure, it lacks the power of the source material but a great tune nonetheless that put The Raiders back on rock radio.
‘Hungry for Some Lovin’ did the same, sounding like late 70’s Santana with fuzzy guitar from long standing Raider’s guitarist Freddy Weller. ‘Baby Make Up Your Mind’ conjures up memories of sunny pop heavies First Class and Jigsaw, digging deep in the recesses of your brain.
While ‘Take A Stand’ checkmates Three Dog Night at their own game and at this point I’m ready to listen to whatever The Raiders have to offer. On the flip the band sound like The Association and Tommy James & The Shondells and that’s not a bad thing since I’m a worshipper of both.
Summery and effervescent, The Raiders nail the soft rock sound, from the swirling melodies of ‘American Family’ to the haunting Brian Wilson-esque experimentation of ‘Farewell To A Golden Girl’, this slab-o-plastic is a keeper.
On the downside don’t bother looking for ‘Country Wine’ on CD, it’s never been reissued as far as I can tell, while their early material has been on digital in numerous and in most cases needless issues for years.