This is the last album of the original Paul Revere and the Raiders despite just being called "Raiders", a name they had used over their preceding two albums, Collage (1970) and Indian Reservation (1971). Importantly, both Paul Revere (the keyboardist) and Mark Lindsay (the vocalist) are still here with several long time Raiders members.
At the time despite the success of the single "Indian Reservation" (#1, 1971 US) their fortunes were dwindling, or so the usually told narrative goes.
Sure there hits weren't as frequent as they had been but they were hardly washed up and this certainly wasn't meant to be their last album as there were subsequent singles and songs recorded for a follow up album (that never came) before the band called it quits in 1976.
The Raiders always had their ear to the ground when it came to trends in music and perhaps have been criticised a little for that, though no one seems to complain about The Rolling Stones doing it (R&B, psych country, country gospel, R&B, rock n roll and even disco) or The Beatles (country, Americana, and big pop).
So this album is very 1972 with country influences, gospel influences, rock n roll, and big soulful adult pop – all popular musical styles of the day
The Raiders were certainly open to and incorporated these influences but those influences had all been explored before and are part of their musical make-up. Country soul and gospel had been referenced before especially in "Goin’ To Memphis" (1967), adult pop In their last preceding three or so albums (and on Mark Lindsay's solo albums of the time), rock n roll from their earliest days.
The trouble is, at least to the greater public, the albums come out a little schizophrenic, incorporating all the influences across songs rather looking for one dominant style to effect the whole album. You can point to the Stones country rock album, R&B album psych album, disco-ish album but with the Raiders it's not that clear cut as each album (especially, and mainly, their later ones) has songs that bounce from genre to genre.
The album comes across almost as a collection of singles and there is nothing wrong with that apart from the fact that their (former) audience had now grown up and become more album oriented.
Clearly this was a conscious decision on the part of the Raiders (and something they had always done to varying degrees) but, with hindsight, it perhaps would have been better to focus.
These all sound like negatives and they are but only to the extent of why (perhaps) The Raiders later albums are not as well known as they should be.
Whether this album is a deliberately varied approach, or simply directionless doesn't matter because, musically, there is gold scattered across the album.
The back cover of the album shows the band comprising Mark Lindsay (lead vocals), Paul Revere (keyboards), Keith Allison (bass and guitar, who had replaced Phil Volk), Freddy Weller (guitar, who had replaced Jim Valley) and Mike "Smitty" Smith (drums, who had already been a member in the 1960s, left and then returned and replaced Joe Correro Jr. in 1970).
The band play well … no one could ever say the Raiders can't play. And that is impressive given the different styles present on this album.
I note it's another one of those albums where they put all the fast songs on one side (side one here) and the slow ones on the other side.
All the songs are written by the band or (seem to be) written for the band by professional songwriters. Lindsay produced.
Tracks (best in italics)
- Country Wine – (E. Villareal, W. Watkins) – written for the band. Big up-tempo pop with a country flavour, like a more mainstream Delaney & Bonnie. Perfect for television talk show guest spots. It is undeniably catchy though.
- Powder Blue Mercedes Queen – (Mark Lindsay) – Bad Company, free and Mountain are channelled here for this heavier rocker in the "Mississippi Queen" style.
- Hungry For Some Lovin' – (Robert Siller) – This is a good soulful number in "Aint No Mountain High Enough" style.
- Baby Make Up Your Mind – (John P'Andrea, John Porter) – big soulful pop with some funky asides
- Take A Stand – (Mark Lindsay, Keith Allison) – thematically very much of it's time, "everybody's got to take a stand". This has a great groove going with nods to War.
- Where Are Your Children – (Leslie Ward Chandler) – Big, straight adult and family pop with a touch of Las Vegas. Lindsay loved this stuff (as his solo albums suggest) and he can sure sing it. This is mush but irresistible.
- Ballad Of The Unloved – (P. Weiss, S. English) – pure big pop … and quite mushy as the title would suggest, but quite good.
- American Family – (Alan Earle O'Pay) – more big pop with a depressing and, perhaps, a non commercial theme though there is optimism in there … "The American Family is dying, the American marriage is through, though that doesn't mean it's true". I don't know if there is a misprint and the writer is meant to be Alan O'Day but in any event it sounds very much something written by Jimmy Curtiss. Very catchy though.
- Golden Girls Sometimes – (M. Lindsay, K. Allison) – country folk pop and quite beguiling.
- Farewell To A Golden Girl – (Mark Lindsay) – a gentle instrumental (with a spoken bridge) that closes nicely though it sounds like something from the late 1960s.
A solid album by a band I love … I'm keeping it.
1972 Powder Blue Mercedes Queen The Billboard Hot 100 #54
1972 Country Wine The Billboard Hot 100 #51
Powder Blue Mercedes Queen
Hungry For Some Lovin'
Baby Make Up Your Mind
Take A Stand
Where Are Your Children
Golden Girls Sometimes
RIP: Alan Vega