31 October 2018

The Unknowns - Tighter/ Young Enough To Cry

Members of Paul Revere and The Raiders in a contractually necessary 'mystery' guise

Label: Marlin
Year of Release: 1967

When bands emerged in the sixties with names like "The Guess Who" or "The You Know Who Group", the management and label responsible were usually hoping radio programmers and the general public would be suckered by the idea that it was The Beatles or The Stones in disguise. Usually, the story was blander and simpler, and behind those vague monikers lay hungry musicians or producers desperate for a hit. 

On very rare occasions, though, there would be famous people behind the record, and lo and behold, here we have a bona-fide example of that. The Unknowns consist of Mark Lindsay and Keith Allison of Paul Revere and The Raiders collaborating with friend and non-top 40 recording artist Steve Alaimo. The individuals all met while Alaimo was musical director on the television series "Where The Action Is", and began to scheme about the possibility of putting some of The Raiders' lesser known LP tracks across to a wider audience. 

The slightly blandly named The Unknowns were the resulting mystery band, with the individuals in question lying low in order to avoid being caught breaking their respective recording contracts. This had the obvious disadvantage of causing the group to be unable to promote their own releases. The first, "Melody for an Unknown Girl", got to number 74 in the Billboard charts despite this, but the second single "Tighter" seemed to totally fail to capture anyone's attention.

I can only assume that the group's inability to do interviews or television promotion killed the record, because it's a bit of a pearl. While the original Raiders version drips the track in so many psychedelic effects that the band sound as if they're drowning in a sea of treacle (fine for a genuinely psych track, possibly not for a feelgood rocker like this) this just punches merrily along. It's close to bubblegum in its style, sounding like the kind of thing you'd kill to hear on the Waltzers in a fairground on a summer evening. It froths along in an uptempo fashion sounding unbelievably joyous and brimming over with close vocal harmonies, and shows itself off as a perfectly good two minute pop song.

After it flopped, all the people involved went back to their previous positions and little else was said about the matter. Probably just as well. While the end products were quality releases, it has to be said the project itself seems a bit silly in retrospect - surely it would only have been a matter of time before bosses at Columbia grew suspicious about a mystery group obsessed with covering Paul Revere and The Raiders tracks? - but we can only assume that Lindsay, Allison and Alaimo had a lot of fun in the process. 

1 comment:

ChrisW said...

Thanks. As far as I've found, these are the best quality versions online!