Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Certain Songs #1455: Paul Revere & The Raiders – “Just Like Me” | Medialoper

Album: Just Like Us!
Year: 1965

Paul Revere & The Raiders were so ridiculous, they probably should been laughed right out of the game. For one thing, there was that terrible gimmick of the Revolutionary War costumes. I guess it was because their founder was “Paul Revere” which was smartly shortened from his real name of “Paul Revere Dick.” You could look it up. And secondly, though, while you would assume that “Paul Revere” was the singer, he was the keyboardist.

I guess that probably made sense in the late 50s & early 60s when they were a mostly instrumental band, who even had a top 40 hit in 1961 with a boogie-woogie instrumental called “Like, Long Hair,” but their version of “Louie Louie” — with vocals and sax by Mark Lindsay — failed to take off because it was a total patch on the Kingsmen’s version, they decided to get serious.

Which makes sense: while their version of “Louie Louie” was recorded in the same studio and in the same month as The Kingsmen, it had absolutely zero liftoff.

So they did what you do: move to Los Angeles and work with Byrds producer Terry Melcher, with whom they crafted a series of classic singles that hitched the primal stomp of “Louie Louie” to the more modern recording techniques that Melcher could bring to bear.

The result was as string of utterly classic garage-rock singles, my favorite of which has always been “Just Like Me” — as shameless of a “Louie, Louie” rip as will ever be — but also a truly thrilling and dynamic single.

Starting off with Revere’s organ leaving loads of space between every beat, “Just Like Me” is a slow burn at first, as Lindsay is almost murmuring:

It’s just like me
To say to you
Love me do
And I’ll be true

And what I’d like
For you to say
Is you’ll come home
To me each day

“Just Like Me” wasn’t written by Paul Revere and the Raiders, but rather Richard Dey and Rick Brown of yet another Pacific Northwest garage rock band called The Wilde Knights, so while it was a cover, it was obscure enough that you could assume that it was an original, though either way, that “love me do” reference is an absolute tip off that it was a contemporary song.

As “Just Like Me” builds towards the chorus, Lindsay gets a bit more excited, as the rest of the band starts augmenting what he’s singing with supporting “ahhhhhhh” during every line, until they just explode into the chorus with with Revere, drummer William “Smitty” Smith, the backing vocals and handclaps(!) counterbalancing everything the now tremendously excited Lindsay is singing.

It’s just like me
It’s just like me
I’m acting the fool
That’s how I’ll be

But it’s just like you
To say goodbye
And leave me all
Alone and cry

And just in case you’re curious as to how that crying sounds, here comes guitarist Drake Levin to let you know, with a wild-ass guitar solo that is probably better than Mike Mitchell’s “Louie Louie” though not nearly as good as the volcanic fire Dave Davies was spewing on the Kinks’ holy “You Really Got Me,” “All Day And All Of The Night,” “Til The End of The Day” trilogy.

The coolest thing about it was the use of double-track: Melcher slammed a couple of different versions of the solo on top of each other, either to mask the fact that it really wasn’t all that great of a solo, or to ratchet up the excitement.

After the solo, “Just Like Me” never even bothers to slow down: afterwards, they repeat the same verses and chorus, but this time, the drums are double-timing the beat, and so “Just Like Me” veritably races towards its conclusion with Levin soloing all over it. In any event, this kind of British Invasion-y sounding song from a gimmicky-looking American act was irresistible to the kids of the mid-60s, and “Just Like Me” made it all the way to #11, which almost seems like a miracle.

It was irresistible to me, too, when I bought Paul Revere and The Raiders Greatest Hits on cassette in June, 1980. (I think maybe I’d just gotten a new cassette deck for graduating hight school, because I bought a bunch of cassettes that month.) I remember feeling a little silly for buying it — they looked like total dorks on the cover — but there was no denying a song like “Just Like Me.”

Fan-made video “Just Like Me”

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