Rhino Records revisits the garage/psychedelic rock era with its first-rate “Nuggets” box set, released Sept. 15. Former Raiders lead singer Mark Lindsay and Dick Dodd of the Standells relive it every day.
Subtitled “Original Artyfacts of the First Psychedelic Era, 1965-1968,” the four-CD collection mines the best of garage rock and flower-power anthems. Among the 118 tracks are the Count Five’s “Psychotic Reaction,” The Seeds’ “Pushin’ Too Hard,” the Knickerbockers’ “Lies” and Strawberry Alarm Clock’s “Incense and Peppermints.”
Then there’s Paul Revere and the Raiders’ “Steppin’ Out” and “Just Like Me” and the Standells’ “Dirty Water” and “Sometimes Good Guys Don’t Wear White.”
The “Nuggets” box set, originally issued on vinyl by Elektra in 1972, is a boon for avid collectors, but it’s a great source for Green Day/Offspring fans looking to dig deep into the roots of punk rock.
“Ten years ago, I wasn’t as aware of our impact,” Dodd said recently from his home in Redondo Beach, Calif., “but then we’d do gigs and I’d say, ‘Here’s a song I did a long time ago,’ and the band makes fun of me, saying something like ‘Yeah, that’s back when they had 45s,’ and someone in the audience says ‘What’s a 45?’ We go out and do ‘Dirty Water,’ and then I’ll meet someone after the show and they’ll go ‘You were the drummer for the Standells?! ‘Dirty Water’ was the first song I ever learned on the guitar.’ I’m like, ‘That’s not a hard one, it’s a pretty easy one to learn.’ That’s a great song for every guitar player to start out on.
“I’ve also done record shows and I’ve seen albums that I never knew we had out. European albums, pictures. I’m at this one booth signing autographs and there’s this big long line of people that knows everything about what the Standells did. It’s great. I think all that old stuff will be new stuff to the newer kids. I think they’ll really enjoy it.”
For Lindsay, it’s an honor to be in the box set alongside the Leaves, Mouse & the Traps, the Music Machine, Love and the Electric Prunes.
“It makes me flash back to when I was 17,” he said from his home on the Hawaiian island of Maui. “Back then, there was nothing else but music and I knew that if I kept doing music, no matter how many times I got slapped down or didn’t make it, if I just got up again and started again one more time, it would happen. That’s an incredibly Pollyanna attitude in today’s world.
“Music was my life, and you can hear in all these records, the single thread through them is balls to the walls all the time, there is no tomorrow, and that’s what’s so great about these records, it was like ‘What if the studio burns down tomorrow, let’s get it out now.’ There was a certain urgency.”
That urgency was justified. Many of the “Nuggets” groups were one-hit wonders, and even for those who were trailblazers, like the Standells, success was fleeting.
“Things didn’t change till we did ‘Try It,’ ” Dodd said. “I think that album was one of our best albums, but it didn’t seem to get accepted. When we tried to change our sound and grow up a little bit, it was good, but it wasn’t what the public wanted. They wanted more ‘Dirty Waters’ and ‘Good Guys,’ but we’re going, ‘Well, we’re not as bad as we used to be and we’ve calmed down, nobody’s protesting like they used to, Sunset Boulevard isn’t wall-to-wall people on the weekends anymore.’ It just seemed to be mellowing and so did we. I wanted to do more soul and blues.
“Our production company kept getting bigger and they got rid of our original manager, then gee, things started disappearing … the royalties weren’t as often and ‘Where’d that royalty go?’ We’ve been fighting that for a long time. We finally got some back.”
Dodd still performs, mostly in Southern California with the Righteous Brothers’ backing band. These days, he’s just thankful to be alive.
“I was in an accident last year and almost ate it,” he said. “This guy ran a red light and hit me right at the door. I was driving a truck for a friend of mine’s company, working in the day, doing anything to survive, really. I was just going back to the warehouse after making a delivery and this guy hits me.
“He hit me so hard, all the windows in the truck blew out, they had to pick me up through a window. I was unconscious. I broke my ribs, my knee, I had a concussion, a tore rotator cuff. I was a mess.”
The Raiders’ story has several chapters. They began as an instrumental rock band in the Pacific Northwest, then did covers of R&B classics, such as Richard Berry’s “Louie Louie.” Columbia Records signed them, made the photogenic Lindsay the new focal point, gave them a steady gig on TV’s “Where the Action Is” and enlisted top songwriters, such as Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil, to provide AM-friendly hits such as “Just Like Me,” “Hungry,” “Good Thing” and pop’s first anti-drug song, “Kicks.”
“We didn’t take ourselves very seriously,” Lindsay said. “In the studio, I took the music very seriously, but when we were out there performing, there wasn’t anything I thought that would be too irreverent or crazy to do. Most of it was just off the top of our heads.
“It’s very hard to take seriously anyone who’s wearing white tights and lace dickeys. We picked good material and gave it our little twist and we had fun.”
As the Vietnam War protests intensified in the late 1960s, the Raiders’ frivolity wore thin. It wasn’t until they did a cover of Don Fardon’s “Indian Reservation” in 1971 that the band’s image was restored, but even that was deceptive.
“Jack Gold said he had the follow-up to ‘Arizona,’ ” said Lindsay, who had a solo career on the side, “and he played Don Fardon’s ‘Indian Reservation.’ He said ‘It’s really big in England and ‘Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee’ is No. 1 on the best-seller’s list and you’re part Cherokee, I think you can sing this song with conviction so let’s do it as a Mark Lindsay single.’ We did. We cut it with all studio musicians, I produced it.
“When I got through with it, I loved it, but I was so close to it, I couldn’t call it. My feeling was it was going to be either the biggest record we ever had or the biggest stiff. The Raiders needed a single, so I told CBS, ‘I’ve cut ‘Indian Reservation.’ If you want to put it out as the Raiders, be my guest.’ If it had been a flop, it wouldn’t weigh so heavily on me. Since it was going to be a Mark Lindsay song, I was going to take all the heat or the glory. It turned out to be the biggest selling single the Raiders never played on and was the biggest selling record for Columbia Records up to that point.”
Today, Lindsay commutes to the mainland for weekend gigs and sees an awful lot of second-generation fans in the audience.
“My theory is whatever was in the grooves that appealed to a 13, 14 or 15 year old then,” he said, “it’s the same for them today. We all have to grow up and go through that period, we think we know more than anybody else. There’s a lot of angst in the stuff … ‘I want to express myself and I want to do it my way.’ Every teenager can identify with that.
“I hear a lot of ’60s in the ’90s, so I think if this ‘Nuggets’ package is exposed right, it should appeal to any crazy 17 year old driving his car too fast down a too-narrow road with a girl too young.”
BWF (before we forget): For a bigger chunk of “Nuggets” on the Web, visit www.rhino.com, and Lindsay fans can get their kicks @ www.marklindsay.com.
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