Wednesday, October 22, 2014

New England Spotlight: The Remains - Once Before and Diddy Wah Diddy

The New England Battle Of The Bands just keeps rolling! The bands we have featured in the last five posts have been small potatoes. All but one of those artists only had one release. The other artist, The Blue Beats, two releases. Today we turn our attention to a real, legitimate band.

The Remains hailed from the unofficial capital of New England, Boston, Massachusetts. The members of the band, Barry Tashian, Vern Miller, Billy Briggs and Chip Damiani, all met while Freshmen students at The University of Boston in 1964. From day one the band was in a groove. And the kids at BU knew it. The legend goes: acoustic dorm room rehearsals with kids spilling out into the halls led to the kids in Kenmore Hall setting up a rehearsal spot for the band in the basement. Kids from all over Boston started showing up to hear them groove. Then came the first gigs already filled with adoring fans pouring out into the streets. Epic Records heard of the legend and the band was signed in the waning hours of 1964.

The band released their first single in March of 1965. The Tashian penned Why Do I Cry was sophisticated and catchy. A real gem of production. But we're going to jump ahead and feature the band's third single. And of course, we're going to flip the sides.

The Flip-Side of their March 1966 release was composed by the rhythm section of the band, Vern Miller, the bassist, and Chip Damiani, the drummer. Once Before is a rocket fueled attack that would have made The Yardbirds proud. And damn, it's catchy too! Tashian's vocals are matched beautifully by his edgy guitar tone and wonderful rhythm guitar work and tastefully subtle fills.

The A-Side was a cover of the traditional blues number, Diddy Wah Diddy, and certainly picked up from Bo Diddley's version. The Remains do a great, peppy version that tracks closely with Mr. McDaniels' take on the number. It was a solid choice for the A-Side.

Everything was going great for The Remains. Epic Records moved them to New York, took them into a studio to record a full length album of killer track after killer track. Then they got the call. The Remains were tagged to open for The Beatles on what would prove to be the band's last ever tour. The Remains got a spot performing live on The Ed Sullivan Show. Hullabaloo was next. Everything was looking perfect. But just days before The Remains were to take off on the tour, drummer Chip Damiani decided he didn't want to go. What?!?!?!?! The band soldiered on without him but the remains of the band felt that it wasn't the same without him. So just as their album was released, the band broke up. Sheesh!

Barry Tashian went on to play with numerous Nashville-based acts including performing with Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris and is still active in music today.
Until next time, we'll see you On The Flip-Side!


  1. Crazy great, shall I say, epic record. It's a shame we didn't get a second LP out of them. A classic Spinal Tap drummer problem.

    On a more obscure, improbable note, I always thought Peter Buck of R.E.M. was so enamored with that little recurring lick on Once Before (after most lines in the verse) that he decided to plunk it down in on one of the tracks on Murmur, Moral Kiosk.

    1. Interesting connection between Once Before and and Moral Kiosk. Could be. I know all these cats, particularly Buck, were huge garage fans. Hence REM's cover of Superman (which I heard on the radio last night) by The Clique. Buck once said, and I paraphrase, 'everything you need to know about songwriting can be heard in one song by The Seeds.'

    2. The Seeds seems an odd reference point for Buck. I would expect more Beau Brummels.

  2. I might add, your 45 deserves a better sleeve.

  3. Good write up. I love The Remains. You're right...the album is loaded with one great track after another. I particularly always loved "When I Want to Know." That song is so perfect. What a killer ending too.