The Remains – The Remains (1966): On Second Thought

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Born 1964 in Boston, Massachusetts, the Remains included lead singer and lead guitarist Barry Tashian, bassist Vern Miller, keyboardist Bill Briggs and drummer Chip Damiani, who was later replaced by ND Smart.

All signs pointed towards the Remains becoming the superstars they deserved to be. Killer live gigs, piles of positive press, appearing on The Ed Sullivan Show and opening for the Beatles on the Liverpool band’s swan-song American tour in August 1966, surely spelled a recipe for far-reaching recognition.

Following the conclusion of the Beatles tour on August 29, the Remains unexpectedly called it quits. The band’s eagerly awaited debut album, The Remains arrived at the tail end of September. Considering the band ceased to exist, the album was greeted with little fanfare and was shoved under the rug.

Seated a couple of shelves above typical garage rock ruckus, The Remains (Epic Records) brandished a force and power that was polished and professional. While the influence of the Yardbirds and the Animals is prominent, the angle is not quite as blues based, as a streamlined hard rock sound guides and governs the contents.

Charged with confidence, clarity and the proper amount of cockiness, Barry’s emotionally raw vocals unite perfectly with the band’s tough and taut performances carved of invigorating riffs and rhythms.

Self-composed songs like “Why Do I Cry,” “You’ve Got a Hard Time Coming,” “Say You’re Sorry” and “Once Before” zoom right in on the band’s magical mixture of muscle and melody. Stuttering breaks, swaggering with intensity, pounding percussion and stately harmonies additionally cushion these infectious tunes.

Punctuated with rapid-fire rapping conveying both a sociological and spiritual bent, an explosive cover of Billy Vera’s “Don’t Look Back” is probably the best known number on the album. Although the song failed to grab the greater public when unleashed as a single, renewed interest was achieved in 1972, when the track popped up on Nuggets: Original Artyfacts From The First Psychedelic Era 1965-1968, a double album focusing on an awesome assortment of one hit and no hit wonders.

Racing to a bracing beat and peppered with the urgent honk of a harmonica, a banner version of Bo Diddley’s “Diddy Wah Diddy” had also been cut as a single and tacked into the album.

The Remains clearly retired far too soon, but great music has no expiration date and a revival was eventually staged. In the ’90s, the Sundazed label, located in New York, began ressurecting their recordings, along with previously unreleased material. And in 2002, the band put out a new album, Movin’ On that drew encouraging reviews.

But nothing can top The Remains, which documents the unstoppable exuberance of an exciting young band. A solid play from start to finish, the songs are grounded and gung-ho in the most authentic rock and roll tradition imaginable.

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 [email protected]
Beverly Paterson
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