There’s nothing quite like an album from a band that is right on the verge of making it. In early 1966, Paul Revere & the Raiders were such a band. Although their previous three albums had been commercially unsuccessful, Paul Revere & the Raiders had just scored a gig on Dick Clark’s Where the Action Is, a spinoff of the wildly popular American Bandstand. Released on Columbia Records in January 1966, hot on the heels of this rise to fame, Just Like Us! was set to boost the Raiders all the way to the top. Although it never made it as high as the band had hoped, this album helped certify Paul Revere & the Raiders as American rockers to be reckoned with. This album serves as a transition album away from the cookie cutter pop and early garage rock songs the band released on their first three albums to the harder garage rock and protopunk sound they would later become known for on albums like Midnight Ride. While the album still has some tunes similar to songs on their previous albums, even these pop-laden numbers are enjoyable. Songs like “Action” and “Doggone” run with familiar, radio-friendly melodies that evoke pop-rock numbers from the early- to mid-60s, such as songs that propelled The Beach Boys to the top of the charts. While these songs are done with great musicianship, they are nowhere near as powerful as edgier rock songs like “Steppin’ Out” and “Baby, Please Don’t Go.” “Steppin’ Out” opens the album with an intense, bluesy rhythm certain to raise a few hairs on the back of listeners’ necks. These songs are much heavier and more raw than much of the band’s earlier work. These tracks are loud and unforgiving, ultimately falling somewhere between garage rock and protopunk. Out of this same vein, Paul Revere & the Raiders also cover The Rolling Stones’ “I Can’t Get No (Satisfaction).” Although this song has been covered by numerous musicians, this song seems to fit particularly well on this album given its edgier disposition. Although the album has a plethora of great hard rock numbers that would help define Paul Revere & the Raiders for years to come, it also contains a surprisingly eclectic array of sounds. For instance, a cover of Donovan’s “Catch the Wind” is quite folk-rocksy, almost something off of an album by The Byrds. The song “New Orleans” also sets itself apart from the rest of the album by evoking the sound of the city famous for the blues and partying. This song captures both elements and has a fantastic saxophone part. Ultimately, this album captures the launching point of the band’s career. It’s an album of crossroads and pushing further into a new, harder sound. With albums like this, it’s almost impossible to believe that Paul Revere & the Raiders are still not in the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame. Any fan of 60s underground music in general, especially fans of garage rock and protopunk in particular, will definitely enjoy this album. A+
Paul Revere & the Raiders – Just Like Us!