Friday, August 27, 2010

Forgotten Fun: "Judge GTO Breakaway" (1969), recorded by Paul Revere & The Raiders

FOR Brother Fang, a highlight of the Collectors' Choice Music reissue I got a week ago, Paul Revere & The Raiders Featuring Mark Lindsay: The Complete Columbia Singles (3-CD set), is the rare promotional side of "Judge GTO Breakaway". The record was used as a marketing gimmick, the lucky buyer of one of these muscle cars from the Pontiac division of General Motors receiving a new vinyl 45rpm single for FREE as an additional reward for choosing such a sweet ride!

Original print ad for The Judge. (Click on image for better view.)
Written by Raiders Mark Lindsay and Keith Allison, the song is adapted from the earlier Raiders tune "Time After Time" (found on their Hard 'N' Heavy LP), and the final result does what it's supposed to: sell the car in as few words as possible. (Not by Twitter standards, praise the gods!) Of course, this was the case with all the car songs that got recorded in the '60s (promo or not), but by '69 (when this was released, exclusively given away by Pontiac dealers), the sound evolved beyond that of the "surf music" sound of "G.T.O.", "Three Window Coupe" or "Corvair Baby" (the latter another, earlier Raiders promo).

The mono recording (consisting of Lindsay on lead vocals, Allison doing all the guitar parts and Raider Joe Correro, Jr. on drums) is a groovy, fuzz-guitar-drizzled, pedal-to-the-floor romp that has as much attitude and horsepower in its 2:48 running time as one of the actual cars! For a song that's a well-produced "throwaway" (with a slick, shortened edit of the "TAT" backing track), it can't help but be imbedded in my mind after hearing it all the times I have -- several times!

Don't make me tell you how many!!

As for the vehicle itself, The Judge was a deluxe edition of the GTO that came out for the '69 model year (so they were available in the latter part of '68), the name deriving from a recurring comedy bit on the then-popular TV show Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In, where guest Sammy Davis, Jr. did his version of comedian Dewey "Pigmeat" Markham's old "Here Come De Judge" burlesque routine. (Markham owned the rights to his "Judge" song, and since GM didn't want to pay the $250,000 for using it in advertising, they opted for a cheaper alternative.)

These particular GTOs weren't around forever, and the rest of all muscle cars would soon follow suit, their popularity crushed by the '70s energy crisis. Today, wherever these materialize at auto shows (reportedly, not too often), a preserved or restored Judge is an impressive thing to see, parked or running! They're a nice dash of nostalgia.

The same can be said of Collectors' Choice Music Singles set, all 66 "A" and "B" Columbia sides (including those rare promos) by the Raiders in their original mono or stereo mixes, digitally remastered by Bob Irwin with dynamic sonics. The CD booklet's liner notes, written by Ed Osborne, are also well executed, featuring interviews with Lindsay and Paul Revere; it offers a brief but wide-ranging summary of the ups and downs of the Raiders' Columbia era. If you're wanting something more other than a single-disc "Greatest Hits" compilation, as well as getting a chance to listen to the hits (and "misses") with a sound quality surpassing that of the best "mint" condition 45s on the most expensive of turntables, this collection is for YOU.

In closing, savor The Judge and Paul Revere & The Raiders by clicking on here.

The commercial was shot at a location in the Mohave Desert called El Mirage Dry Lake.

Keeping it trivial....

Fang Shih-yu, Shaolin Temple.

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