Before he became Patti Smith’s lead guitarist, Lenny Kaye compiled the 2 album set, Nuggets: Original Artyfacts from the First Psychedelic Era. Released in 1972, the two-LP set covered American garage rock and psychedelia from the years from 1965-1968, and was a major influence on punk rock. Rhino Records reissued an expanded version of the set in 1998, with 118 tracks in total. I’m profiling and rating each of these 118 tracks, working backwards.
Track 107: Open Up Your Door by Richard & the Young Lions
Release Date: 1966
From: Newark, New Jersey
Aphoristical Rating: 6/10
A garage rock band from New Jersey, Richard & the Young Lions were originally named the Emeralds. They group encountered songwriter L. Russell Brown, later famous for co-writing ‘Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree’ and ‘Knock Three Times’, at a Newark pizzeria. This led to a name change and a chance to record Brown’s ‘Open Up Your Door’. The song was mostly recorded by studio musicians – Richard & the Young Lions were largely limited to vocals.
As you can probably tell from their name, Richard & the Young Lions were Anglophiles – before recording ‘Open Up Your Door’ they were largely performing British invasion covers. ‘Open Up Your Eyes’ lifts the famous bridge, with its four ascending notes, from ‘Twist and Shout’. The Isley Brothers added the bridge to ‘Twist and Shout’ first, but Richard Tepp’s snarl resembles John Lennon’s. It’s hard to look past the bridge plagiarism but there are redeeming features – the fuzz bass and Tepp’s sneering voice combine to create one of the tougher sounding songs on Nuggets.
‘Open Up Your Door’ was the band’s debut single, but due to its limited release it only peaked at #99. It was followed by two more singles before the band split. The band reunited in 2000, as documented on their delightfully archaic official website. Despite Richard Tepp’s death in 2004 and more than 50 years after ‘Open Up Your Door’, Richard & the Young Lions recently released their first two studio albums. Produced by garage rock enthusiast Steve Van Zandt, they both feature ‘Open Up Your Door’ and are available on Bandcamp.
“It’s the album we never got to make.”
The mythical Garage Rock band’s debut album…51 years in the making!
“A tale of redemption, of reward and resurrection.” – Lenny KayeBandcamp