Near the end of February, the sad news came down that the drummer of the mighty Remains, Chip Damiani had passed away at the age of 68.
Back in the garage/mod days of the 80s, when reissues of classic 60s material were coming fast and furious, the French import comp of the Remains best material was a big favorite.
Record collector types are always bending someone’s ear about how their favorite band really should have been huge, but in the case of the Remains, that old saw has the ring of truth.
Formed in Boston in 1964, the Remains made music that was hard edged – often muscling in on the garage punk vibe – full of R&B swagger yet with enough pop flavor to get them (theoretically, anyway) on the radio.
They were enshrined on 1972’s ‘Nuggets’ comp, with ‘Don’t Look Back’ (written by a young Billy Vera), but that record – as great as it was – only scratched the surface.
Despite a lack in actual chart success (outside of Boston), the Remains managed to make it onto the Ed Sullivan show, and score themselves a spot opening for the Beatles on their last tour in 1966.
They shoulda/coulda been, but broke up not long after the Beatles tour.
In their short career they recorded one rare LP for Epic, a handful of 45s (most of the tracks from the LP), and that – as they say – was that.
The two tracks I bring you today were released on 45 in 1966.
Their reading of Bo Diddley’s ‘Diddy Wah Diddy’ was their biggest hit – charting in the Northeast and southern California – and has a big, booming sound. The drums, acoustic guitar and electric piano get things rolling before the harp and vocals come in. There’s plenty of forward motion for the dance floor, and just enough grit for the longhairs in the crowd.
The flipside, ‘Once Before’ – opening with a razor sharp rhythm guitar slash – sounds like what the Yardbirds might have sounded like had they emerged on the opposite side of the Atlantic. Written by Chip Damiani and bassist Vern Miller, the song is my favorite of the band’s original songs, and in a just world would have been a hit.
Fortunately, after decades of doing other things (with Barry Tashian crossing paths with Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris) the Remains came back together in the late 90s and performed at many modern garage fests.
You can grab all of their material in reissue (hard copy and digital), and if you dig these tracks, I assure you that the rest of their catalog will not disappoint.
See you next week.