Midnight Ride - Columbia 1965
After the group's shift to Columbia Records (with Terry Melchior as producer) they changed their style from being a purely entertainment dance band to being a comtemporary band heavily inspired by the British scene, but also American bands like The Monkees, The Turtles and The Byrds. There is "Midnight Ride" are examples of most of these sources of inspiration. The group, however, continued their unpretentious and entertaining stage performance, which meant that many people, in a time when the young wished rock music should be assessed as a serious form of expression or art, found it hard to take them seriously. In retrospect, the group had deserved much greater recognition for their music than they did in their time.
In those days many albums, especially the US, had a rather short playing-time - often less than 30 minutes. This also applies to "Midnight Ride" which can be felt pretty short.
The album opens blazingly with the hit "Kicks," written by Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil, known for several big hits.
Guitarist Drake Levin is credited with three songs, all in basic R & B style - not unlike the early Kinks albums. The best among these is probably "Ballad of a Useless Man". You must not underestimate Levin's contribution to the group's sound, with his melodic crisp sounding guitarplaying.
Singer Mark Lindsay and Paul Revere are credited for not less than six songs, which all in varying degrees are really good. The fine ballad "Little Girl in the 4th Row", could almost sound like a Knickerbockers recording.
On "There She Goes" you may feel inspiration from Chris Hillman and The Byrds – a fine track. On the more complex "All I Really Need Is You" you may easily get The Turtles in mind, while "Louie, Go Home" is garage rock in the best Standells style. A little Monkees / Nesmith country rock can be found on another fine track "Take a Look at Yourself".
The album's final track is also a Lindsay / Revere composition, "Melody For an Unknown Girl" with words recited and where a great saxophone theme goes right in the heart of the listener - could easily have been the inspiration for Gerry Rafferty's "Baker Street" theme.
Finally, there is a version of Boyce / Hart's "Steppin 'Stone", which does not differ significantly from the more famous Monkees version.