Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Paul Revere & the Raiders: The Essential Ride '63-'67 [Columbia/Legacy, 1995]
Organized by a Mennonite conscientious objector and fronted by an omniverous pop showman, this was the one American garage band whose recorded output justified the ensuing mythos. Where here-and-gone hitmakers like the Standells and the Count Five were never as good as their best songs, and wild Northwest rivals like the Sonics and the Wailers never even had best songs, these guys sunk their chops into professional smashes ("Hungry," "Kicks") until they figured out how to write them ("Ups and Downs," "Him or Me--What's It Gonna Be"). And long before that, they figured out how to rock out, beating the Kingsmen to "Louie Louie" and daring the previously unreleasable frat-orgy classic "Crisco Party/Walking the Dog." Eventually, they also figured out how to wimp out. But unlike their vinyl best-of, this CD is programmed to cut out first. A-