Something Happening

by: Paul Revere & the Raiders

Having previously scored big through their association with the Dick Clark TV show Where The Action Is, Paul Revere & the Raiders seemed a good bet -- from the point of view of Columbia Records -- to hit again in Clark's new series, Happening '68 (later renamed It's Happening). Unfortunately, 1968 wasn't 1965, and the group had neither the command of the most relevant rock sounds of the later era nor the ear of younger teen listeners in the same way. Something Happening showcased this problem: something was, indeed, happening to the group's sound, and it wasn't good. Paul Revere & the Raiders had abandoned the sneering garage band sound that had fueled their earlier success, taken one detour to a white soul sound through Chips Moman's studio on Goin' to Memphis (essentially a Mark Lindsay solo record), then tried to come back with this album, the first produced entirely by Lindsay. This time out, the group delivers some melodic but very tepid psychedelia ("Happens Every Day," "Free," "The Good Times") and lightweight pop/rock ("Love Makes the World Go Round") interspersed with tracks that do manifest a sharper edge, such as "Get Out of My Head," where the mix of punk defiance, light textured string section, and horn backup is genuinely exciting and engaging (but to get to it, one has to listen through a minute of sound effects and a trippy fade-down); "Don't Take It So Hard," a punchy imitation "Paperback Writer"; and the extended punk-psychedelic jam "Communication." On the group's earlier records, songs like these would have been the tolerable flatter spots in between the moments of greatness, but on Something Happening they are the album's peaks. As to the semi-title track, "Happening '68," it does present some pleasant guitar and keyboard flourishes but is otherwise undistinguished. The 1996 Sundazed reissue sounds great, but the bonus tracks are mostly associated with the show Happening '68, all combining to make this one of the less compelling re-releases of the group's work. ~ Bruce Eder

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