In answer to Ben’s comment, of course Sir Lord Baltimore counts, and who could forget Paul Revere and the Raiders, who actually performed in quasi-colonial outfits? (Actually they are still performing in them, in Branson!) To my surprise, it seems that the gimmicky, studio-buffed Raiders have enjoyed something of a critical renaissance in recent years. Kicks do just keep getting harder to find.
But if we are going all colonial, what about Cotton Mather (out of Austin, Texas), perhaps the greatest power-pop band ever? I have no idea why Robert Harrison and company decided to name themselves after a witch-unfriendly Puritan divine, but their band was really, really good. They had a taste of success in the late 1990s but got washed away in the implosion of the “commercial alternative” music scene around the same time. I remember hearing their terrific single “My Before and After” on the radio a couple of times in Tallahassee, but I only truly discovered them ex post facto, thanks to a wandering conversation (and subsequent CD-burning) with a University of Chicago Press editor at an OAH booth a few years ago. I kid you not. (Sadly, Cotton Mather never named an album “Wonders of the Invisible World,” a ready-made album title if I ever saw one, at least if you had to choose among Puritan religious writings.) The video below is not my favorite of their songs, but it was the only one I could find on YouTube. Other songs can be heard here.
This article originally appeared in issue 9.1 (October, 2008).
Jeffrey L. Pasley is associate professor of history at the University of Missouri and the author of “The Tyranny of Printers”: Newspaper Politics in the Early American Republic (2001), along with numerous articles and book chapters, most recently the entry on Philip Freneau in Greil Marcus’s forthcoming New Literary History of America. He is currently completing a book on the presidential election of 1796 for the University Press of Kansas and also writes the blog Publick Occurrences 2.0 for some Website called Common-place.