For the week of 5/28/2012…

“Steppin’ Out” by Paul Revere & The Raiders

Here are two things to know about Paul Revere & the Raiders.

The first is that while the lead singer was named Mark Lindsay, the keyboardist’s honest-to-God birth name is Paul Revere.

The second is that they were one of the most successful American bands of the 1960s, and possibly the most successful of the ’60s garage rock bands.  But are they given their due?  My mom remembers them as “afternoon TV teeny-boppers,” and according to Australian writer Ian McFarlane, “when the history of American pop and rock music was being examined authoritatively in encyclopaedic tones during the 1970s and early 1980s, Paul Revere & The Raiders were inevitably overlooked” as “their good time style became less fashionable in the late 1960s.”  Nevertheless, he argues, their music was a touchstone in the progression of garage rock towards punk.

One of my ongoing music fixations is tracing the lineage of punk rock, and specifically the line from the blues to punk rock by way of ’50s rhythm-and-blues, ’60s garage rock, and early ’70s proto-punk.  With a song like “Steppin’ Out” – a single from the Raiders’ 1966 album Just Like Us! – I like to think about how the music serves as a link along that chain of development.  Musically, this earlier Raiders song is very much an example of the guitar-and-organ rhythm-and-blues style epitomized by the Animals.  But what really interests me are Lindsay’s snarled vocals, which have all the attitude and punch of similar vocals from contemporaries like Mick Jagger, Eric Burdon, and the guy from the Troggs.  But most interesting of all is the way these vocals point directly to the sneering delivery of Iggy Pop, the singer from the Stooges and one of the progenitors of punk rock.  Now, how about that?

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