Paul Revere & the Raiders – A Christmas Present… and Past

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Okay, so with later hits like their 1971 song “Indian Reservation (The Lament of the Cherokee Reservation Indian),” Paul Revere & the Raiders are not really an underground band per se; however, with their early songs like “Kicks” (1966) and “Steppin’ Out” (1966), they had an enormous influence on garage rock and protopunk, and it would be a shame not to include them in a blog like this. That being said, I stumbled across this album a few weeks ago and thought “what the hell.” I’m not really a Christmas music enthusiast, but the album looked fun and ’tis the season. This 1967 Columbia album comes after a major lineup shuffle in early 1967 that saw three members leave the band and songwriter Mark Lindsay seize control of the direction of the band. From this point on Paul Revere & the Raiders would move away from their garage rock beginnings towards a more radio friendly style; however, A Christmas Present… and Past still contains that raw sound of 60s garage rock. The first track, “Introduction,” is a humorous way to set the mood for a fun and eccentric rest of the album. The first original Christmas recording, “Wear a Christmas Smile,” is a solid pop rock number. Really nothing special, but it’s a decent tune. The only traditional Christmas song on the album, “Jingle Bells,” follows as the best rendition of “Jingle Bells” I’ve ever heard. After a couple verses, the chorus is repeated faster and harder each time in a more raw and powerful way. It’s one of the best tracks on the album. “Brotherly Love” is a soft melodic original that helps transition into the fifth and best track of the album: “Rain, Sleet, Snow.” This song is heavy and stripped down and makes for an excellent underground 60s tune. This song carries the rest of the album without a doubt. “Peace” closes side one with a Christmas-like instrumental. Side two opens with “Valley Forge,” a Vietnam-era protest song hidden under a Christmas mask. This song grows on you the more you listen to it. “Dear Mr. Claus” is one of the more traditional-sounding Christmas songs of the album. It seems to be there as a filler to give the album a more universal Christmas appeal. “Macy’s Window” follows as another song that seems to have been written for the radio. It doesn’t have any of the garage rock sound that some of the better songs of the album do. “Christmas Spirit” is the worst song on the album and takes the spirit out of the album. The album closes with “A Heavy Christmas Message,” which is exactly what it says it is, but then leads into an amazing fast and heavy instrumental featuring a soloing kazoo. The album ends on a high note. Overall, this album seems to be stuck between two audiences: the garage rock fan who is seeking a little Christmas fun and the traditional Christmas music enthusiast. If you’re willing to put up with a little junk in order to find some true seasonal gems, then this album is well worth picking up.  C+

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2 thoughts on “Paul Revere & the Raiders – A Christmas Present… and Past

  1. I’ve been surfing online greater than three hours these days, but I never found any interesting article like yours. It’s pretty value sufficient for me. Personally, if all webmasters and bloggers made excellent content as you probably did, the net can be much more useful than ever before.|

  2. I’m very glad that you’ve found my blog interesting. I’m excited to share my passion with others. I’m always open to exchanging opinions and receiving suggestions, so if you have any thoughts on any of my reviews or any suggestions for further reviews, feel free to share. Thanks for reading. Check back often for more 60s album reviews.

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