Terry Melcher

Honoring a Musical Genius

On this page, I will be sharing with you much background information on Terry's many music projects. Included will be songs you have heard on 45, LP, CD, in the movies - or even some stuff you've never heard before! I will be highlighting various recordings of his own as well as those by the many artists that Terry worked with. You will be reading about some of the sessions, the circumstances surrounding the songs, comments by those who were there, the-story-behind-the-song kind of information and other groovy stuff! ~ Little Beach Girl

In starting this highlight page, spotlighting specific works of the best producer ever, what better way to start off than with the best band ever? Of course, I am speaking of that great 1960's group, Paul Revere & the Raiders! Such great music we were given by the quintessential members Paul "Uncle Paul" Revere, Mark "Madman" Lindsay, Mike "Smitty" Smith (of beloved memory - he passed over into Paradise in 3/2001), Drake "The Kid" Levin, Mike "Doc" Holladay, Phil "Fang" Volk, and Jim "Harpo" Valley. Which group has ever done a better (or even a comparable) job in being a totally complete musical package? They could:

1. write great lyrics & music

2. play beyond what was expected from an instrument

3. dance (all original moves, most designed by Raider Drake Levin, fluid, strong and graceful moves that went perfectly with the beat - you know what I'm talking about - not just the same dozen moves done repetitiously regardless of the mood of the music)

4. entertain with awesome showmanship

5. reproduce on the stage the same great sound you heard on their records (not all groups could do this)

6. each member had a lead-vocal quality voice

7. each member had heartthrob looks

As Yul Brynner often said in the film "The King and I": "Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera."

There is so much groovy recording information on Paul Revere and the Raiders that I want share you that I now face a new, much harder question: which album of theirs should I highlight first? How about the LP that had one of the two recordings of "Little Girl In the 4th Row" on it? Two, you ask? Yep, there were two [read on]:

This very cool album was originally released on 5/9/1966 on Columbia Records (#9308). The original liner notes speak of the five group members' (Paul, Mark, Smitty, Drake and Phil) writing prowess as well as Terry's arranging and producing talents. Each member of the group had a part in writing the songs and they also each played multiple instruments. For example: Mark played sax, trumpet and maracas for this album, Phil played bass, piano, celesta (similar to a piano, keys are pressed to cause the hammers to strike metal plates, resulting in a soft tinkling sound) and humbar. Terry recorded multiple tracks of the guys' artistry and worked his genius ways to bring it all together into perfectly recorded music. This way the guys could do all of the music themselves, without having to bring in other musicians.

1. KICKS ~ writers: Barry Mann-Cynthia Weil; recorded on 1/3/1966; released on Columbia as single #4-43556

One of the best, most important songs ever written or recorded! Drake's guitar work in this song tells the story just as strongly clear as the deep, heartfelt, pleading lyrics that come from Mark's lips. Drugs won't get you anywhere good and they won't solve any of your problems - they only add to them. This was the first song on the market to speak out strongly against drugs, of this fact the band members are very proud. Terry went to Mann & Weil and asked them specifically for a song of this caliber. (Terry brought "the Brill Building Sound" to Columbia artists, as will be told about on the biography page in the near future.)

2. THERE'S ALWAYS TOMORROW ~ writers: Mike Smith-Drake Levin; recorded on 3/9/1966

Smitty, of blessed memory, was a man full of love, encouraging others, bringing sunshine into their day, being the peacemaker when opinions differed, witty, wise - and the best drummer I have ever heard! Drums have always been my favorite instrument and no one plays them as strong and good as he. Smitty, along with his buddy Drake, wrote this song about keeping your hopes strong, encouraging you to not give up. It is about the heartache after breaking up and the troubles that go with it, yet the song also shows that you can move on - because "there's always tomorrow"!

right to left: Mark, Drake, Paul (standing), Phil and Smitty

3. LITTLE GIRL IN THE 4TH ROW ~ writers: Mark Lindsay-Paul Revere; recorded on 3/11/1966

As I mentioned above, there were two versions recorded of this beautiful song: one sung in American, the other sung in Italian! Both final takes were recorded on the same date, 3/11/1966 at Columbia Studios. (I will be writing about the Italian version shortly.) The opening is tremendously beautiful, the instruments selected and the timing and tone in which they were played is perfect! The piano continues it's lovely melody throughout the song. Terry, whose voice was a perfect counter-part to Mark's, joins his voice to the lead vocal at the right moments to add the perfect touch of emphasis to make this the most beautiful song on the album. Truly this is my favorite song on this solid-good LP. A love story side-note here: Mark's own "little girl in the 4th row", his true love Deborah, was a little closer than the 4th row on the night they first met - she was seated in the 3rd row at Paul Revere and the Raiders' concert on 4/7/1967!

4. BALLAD OF A USELESS MAN ~ writer: Drake Levin; recorded on 3/9/1966

Though a sad song, it has a moral and teaches a lesson about being thankful for what you have and to not be a shikker (drunkard). A warning to heed. Mark sings the story with soul and the instrumental backing is superb. The guitar - by song author Drake - makes the song something to be happy about.

5. I'M NOT YOUR STEPPING STONE ~ writers: Tommy Boyce-Bobby Hart; recorded on 1/4/1966

Excellent, gutty vocals from Mark and the rest of the guys. The drums and guitar are so awesome, the bass and organ melding perfectly in a perfectly-performed and produced song. The Raiders put so much energy into their music, how can you help but enjoy listening to it? (Just a note here: the Monkees obviously listened very closely to the Raiders' version before recording their own cut of it - very wise move that paid off well for them, wouldn't you say?)

6. THERE SHE GOES ~ writers: Mark Lindsay-Paul Revere; recorded on 3/11/1966

An upbeat, yet broken-hearted song; you'll probably never enjoy any other sad song as much as this one. You can hear Terry lending his voice in this one, too. The opening and closing guitar pieces are cool touches.

7. ALL I REALLY NEED IS YOU ~ writers: Mark Lindsay-Paul Revere; recorded on 3/30/1966

When you hear this song, you'll want to play it again as soon as it ends! The words of devoted love will touch your heartstrings as Mark puts his soul into his singing - which he always does with excellence! Smitty's drum solo between verses is totally boss. The background vocals are also very strong and manly, bringing much depth of feeling.

8. GET IT ON ~ writers: Phil Volk-Drake Levin; recorded on 3/3/1966

A great song about using your "own gray matter" - a.k.a., your brain! If you got to see Phil perform this song on Dick Clark's "Where the Action Is!" in the 1960's, hearing it again will take you right back there to the lake in Minnesota. This was the scene: the guys are out on a pontoon, Phil was putting down some great dance moves (which he somehow managed to do even with his Raider jacket on backwards!), Jim "Harpo" Valley (who was filling in for Drake as he served in the military) traded his horn for a guitar and joined in, Mark was playing a guitar, Smitty was playing the keyboard, Paul was playing the snare drum. What a fun band to watch!

clockwise from middle: Paul, Mark, Drake, Phil and Smitty

9. LOUIE, GO HOME ~ writers: Mark Lindsay-Paul Revere; recorded on 3/10/1966

The guys wanted a follow-up to their "Louie, Louie", yet one was not written by the original author. So they decided to write it themselves - and they did an excellent job! The tambourine plays (pun not intended) a key part in this song; listen to it and note how it makes the song that much better. Paul's organ is superb as always, as is Smitty's drums. Drake and Phil's artistry is so good on this one; it's matchless.

10. TAKE A LOOK AT YOURSELF ~ writers: Mark Lindsay-Paul Revere; recorded on 3/29/1966

Another great song, encouraging one to think things through and make sure you are doing the right thing. Before pointing a finger at someone else, take a look at yourself! Very cool music along with a very cool message.

11. MELODY FOR AN UNKNOWN GIRL ~ writers: Mark Lindsay-Paul Revere; recorded on 3/29/1966

This has got to be one of the most beautiful love ballads ever written. Mark speaks from his heart, telling about this special girl that he knows he will meet someday. If you listen closely, you can hear the sheet music as he prepares to play the most romantic sax solo you have ever had the pleasure of hearing.

bonus tracks on Sundazed CD:

12. SHAKE IT UP ~ writers: Mark Lindsay-Paul Revere; recorded on 1/18/1966

This song was released on single as the flip side of "Kicks".

On this song you can hear the spontaneous kind of fun that the Raiders were so very capable of. Drake plays some awesome guitar licks and Smitty is really going to town on those drums and cymbals! Mark, Drake and Smitty join their strong manly voices to sing "Hey!" as the first two are undoubtedly doing their awesome "rocking horse leg kick". Meanwhile, if you listen closely, you can hear Paul and Phil carrying on a zany conversation as they play their respective instruments. Their manager, Roger Hart, can be heard making a comment at the end of the track.

clockwise from middle: Phil, Drake, Paul, Mark and Smitty

13. LITTLE GIRL IN THE 4TH ROW (Italian version) ~ writers: Mark Lindsay-Paul Revere; recorded on 3/11/1966; previously un-issued in the United States of America

Sung with heartfelt tenderness, Mark shows his versatility in being able to sing for the Italian single with great finesse. What more could be said of this very romantic song?

14. SS396 ~ writers: L. Adessa-V. Benay; recorded on 10/13/1965; released on Sony Special Products in 1967 as single #CSP-262

This song is as much of an exciting treasure today for classic car buffs as it was for those who dreamed of having one of these awesome cars when they were rolling off of the assembly line. Great details describe the car in shining clarity without being at all tedious. This song is enough to get anyone itching to get out on that road and cruise the groovy roads.

15. CORVAIR BABY ~ writer: W. Stone; recorded on 10/13/1965; released on opposite side of above song

Another superb car song; it tells about how great it is to drive this cool car and how his girl loves to ride with him. It's a car song and a love song all in one tidy package. I love it!

(You will often see on my site reference to Sundazed. This is a CD and vinyl re-issue company run by those who love good music. They do an awesome job on quality of sound and include previously un-issued songs and booklets packed with lots of groovy information and pictures with each CD. They also quite often add a hidden track after the last song on the disc; it might be a rare commercial by the artists or a glimpse into what it was really like in the studio - great treasures to enjoy! On "Midnight Ride With Paul Revere & the Raiders" [You can click on the album title here and it will take you directly to Sundazed's website so you can buy your own copy of this awesome recording!] the hidden track is a vocal-only clip from "Shake It Up", with Phil and Paul talking about Mark, who can be heard shouting "SHAKE! SHAKE!" in the background. You really gotta hear this!)

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