Forgotten series: The Raves – Past Perfect Tense (1992)

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Judging from the photo gracing the front cover sleeve of “Past Perfect Tense,” one would understandably be inclined to believe the Raves are a Beatles tribute act. Not only does the Atlanta, Georgia band dress the part (we’re talking 1964-1965 here), but the physical resemblances to the lads from Liverpool are uncannily similar as well.

Although the Raves do dwell deep in Beatles country, they write their own material which is so good and strong that it adds a few unique wrinkles to the fabric. A copycat band they are not, but comparisons to the Rutles are not far off the radar. In fact, the Raves even hosted a local television show in the early 80s, “Eh, Wot’s This?” that implanted comedy sketches with music.

Formed in 1971 and originally known as the Nod, the Raves include Chuck Yoakum on vocals, guitar and keyboards, John Yoakum on bass, keyboards and vocals, Ken Kennedy on guitar and Jim Yoakum on drums. In 1981 they unveiled their debut album, “The Color Of Tears,” and some of the cuts from the platter are featured on Past Perfect Tense, which further involves previously unreleased tracks from 1989, the date the band dismantled. But they recently reunited and are preparing to issue a brand new album this year.

Bulging at the seams with chirpy rhythms and sighing harmonies shaped of oohs, ahs and woo woo woos, Past Perfect Tense (Hologramophone Music), would have pierced the airwaves from sea to shining sea had it been recorded a decade and a half earlier. The Raves definitely have the stuff down to a studied science, from the clipped British accents to the swinging guitars to the choppy hooks. And it all sounds so natural. The Raves truly have a solid grasp of the style of music they play.

Numbers such as “Make Up Your Mind,” “Whatever She Says,” “Calling Your Name” and “I Bet You’re Lonely Too” twitch and twinkle with every single factor characterized in classic pop songs, where tunes like “Every Little Bit Hurts,” “Anyway You Can” and “C’est La Vie” are subtly spiked with reggae breaks. “Tonight It’s Gonna Be Great” resurrects the spirit of Buddy Holly with spot on results, and “My, My, My” hops and bops with the kind of hillbilly stuff Ringo gets his rocks off on.

Trends and fads are fleeting, but there will always be an audience for pithy pop ditties, and Past Perfect Tense fulfills the need. Alight with energy and joy, the disc regenerates the enthusiasm and excitement exerted by the mop-topped combos of yore with passion and respect. In view of Past Perfect Tense, the return of the Raves will be most welcome!

The Raves’ ‘Past Perfect Tense’ is available through NotLame.com.

Beverly Paterson

Beverly Paterson

Beverly Paterson was born the day Ben E. King hit No. 4 with "Stand By Me" -- which is actually one of her favorite songs, especially John Lennon's version. She's contributed to Lance Monthly and Amplifier, and served as Rock Beat International's associate editor. Paterson has also published Inside Out, and Twist & Shake. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
Beverly Paterson
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