"The most exciting American band of their time... a true rock and roll legend. -Jon Landau
Make no mistake - this reunion is a mindblower. A true rock legend comes alive again - The Remains are back in their original line-up. MOVIN' ON is more than just your average run-of-the-mill reunion. These guys prove that they've lost nothing of their passion for the music that made them the stuff of legend and Boston's best-loved band of the mid-Sixties. MOVIN' ON is almost more fun to listen to than legally allowed and it takes you back to a time when innocence and musical passion formed a bond that was and still is one of a kind. Rock, pop, r'n'b, country and rock and roll played with a wonderful sense of passion. Not many bands manage to conserve the energy of adolescence into middle age, but these guys have pulled it off. But who are (Barry &) The Remains? The answer is easy: Barry & The Remains are a strong contender for one of the finest overlooked US bands of the mid-Sixties.
You know the story. It's a familiar one to every rock buff. A band gets together, things start happening and they make waves for a while. But before their career starts taking off it's over already, usually due to a mix of bad decision-making, poor promotion, tough luck and personal difficulties. The Remains fall into this "wonderful failure" category, at least in a commercially. But they've left behind a small and classic body of work, recorded in 1965 and 1966. It's still a cornerstone of East Coast rock history and eyewitness Peter Wolf, a Boston native who later made it big as frontman of the J.Geils Band remains a fan to this very day:
"The remarkable thing to me about The Remains was how professionally polished and musically advanced they were for their time. Their shows were unforgettable. Until many years later, no one used amplification with the power and control of The Remains. They didn't approach the stage, they attacked it, and they could play rock and roll so damn well.... Everyone in Boston fell in love with them, including other bands and musicians who acknowledged them as the city's finest. No one came close to their well-deserved crown... a very, very great band. -Peter Wolf
Barry Tashian (guitar, vocals), Vern Miller (bass, vocals), Bill Briggs (piano, vocals) and Chip Damiani (drums, vocals) - the latter replaced in 1966 by N.D. Smart II - met and formed The Remains in 1964 in their hometown of Boston, Mass. Within no time at all they became the most popular live attraction in the New England states. Tashian & Co. fused the best British Invasion influences by bands like The Beatles and The Zombies with the roughness and soul of American R'n'B. This made The Remains a true East Coast equivalent of the Bay Area's Beau Brummels. One thing they were not though, a garage band. Their shows may have been loud and rough, but they were still tight, unlike most of the other young white combos who tried to get something going in countless surburban garages throughout the United States.
The Remains played hard-edged rock and it's hardly surprising that the handful of singles they recorded for Epic from 1965 to 1966 failed to capture the true power of their live performances. The band had managed to score a record deal within four months of their formation, but neither in New York nor in Nashville did producers and engineers know how to record a band like this. Sonic power was central to their sound and ultimately the records did not reflect that. Still The Remains managed to become darlings of the teen and music press of the day and were booked to support The Beatles on their final US tour. Their singles did not chart, however, but they got national exposure on the Ed Sullivan Show and Hullabaloo. They even moved among rock aristocracy for a while. Barry Tashian has written a very entertaining tour diary about this time and if you feel like goint back to this era, you shouldn't miss his "Ticket To Ride" account of the band's heyday. Going back to play the East Coast clubs proved to be truly sobering for the band and contributed to their demise. This happened in late 1966 already, around the time their first and final LP was released on Epic. Needless to say, it's a sought-after collector's item today. Talk about bad timing...
The Remains recorded four singles and one album for Epic. They worked in Nashville with acclaimed producer Billy Sherrill and recorded a batch of songs for Capitol - the legendary audition tapes, released for the first time in the 1980s. The end of the band came fast, but at least Barry Tashian and N.D. Smart managed to stay afloat by appearing on Gram Parsons' classic debut album GP. Especially Tashian became an in-demand player in Music City U.S.A. and became a member of Emmylou Harris' Hot Band from 1980 to 1989. He also founded a popular country/folk duo with his wife Holly in the 1970s that continues to this day.
The Remains came together again in the Seventies for some gigs and went on to become a small chapter in rock's history books. In hindsight, a quote from bass player Vern Miller from the cover of a LP reissue of their classic sides proves to be revealing: "It's difficult to end the history of The Remains. To each one of us, we weren't just a band, but rather an important force in each other's lives - a meeting of four individuals on a common ground where the whole seemed greater than the sum of it's parts. We loved (and still love) to play. The music never stops..."
Almost forty years after their initial formation, now there's MOVIN' ON. It's a great title for this album, because nothing on it sounds like it's coming from a musical dead-end street. The ultra-cool classic sound of The Remains is still alive and well ("Don't Tell Me The Truth") and sits next to country rock ("You Never Told Me Why", "Ramona"), straight ahead rock and roll ("Big Ol' Dynaflow") and great R'n'B and pop ("You")."Time Keeps Movin' On", indeed, but compared to their heyday these guys sound just as good today, if not better.
MOVIN' ON was expertly recorded in Nashville and produced by
Barry Tashian. The album stands as the first-ever new recording of the original
line-up of the band, now consisting of Tashian, Miller, Briggs and Damiani again.
It's pretty sensational - The Remains are back. Hats off!
See also: The Remains' Homepage
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