Wednesday, August 6, 2014

The Remingtons

In the late 80s and early 90s it was not uncommon for soft rockers form country bands and make a decent living from it.  Chris Hillman probably had the most success with The Desert Rose Band.  Henry Paul went from the southern rock of The Outlaws and his namesake Henry Paul Band to form a partnership with Van Stephenson (Modern Day Delilah) and country hack Kent Robbins with the band Black Hawk which had a successful 90s run themselves.  Sometimes other bands fall through the cracks.  The Remingtons were one those who did.

Richard Mainegra and Rick Yancey were in the soft rock band Cymarron that had a 1971 hit with Rings, James Griffin was in Bread, perhaps the ultimate soft rock band of that time.  In 1991 thereabouts these guys got together to make two country rock albums for the dreaded BNA label.  Produced by Larry Michael Lee (Ozark Mountain Daredevils singer of Jackie Blue and later produced the likes of Alabama, Restless Heart and even R& B singer Tracie Spencer) and Josh Leo (Nitty Gritty Dirt Band) the 1992 Blue Frontier was a product of country music of the 1990s, smooth harmonies, and soft tempo courtesy of some of the finest Nashville session players at that time ( Biff Watson, Bernie Leadon, Mike Rhodes, Harry Stinson).  Blue Frontier is mainstream C&W, with two top twenty hits with A Long Time Ago (10) and Two Timin Me (18). Like Restless Heart, it's ballad heavy and not enough rockin country to satisfy more than a curious listen.  But when James Griffin takes the lead on When Love At First Sight Goes Blind or Takin The Easy Way Out, then the record comes to life.  The record managed to peak at number 55 in 1992 and BNA ponied up for a new album.

Yancey left, Denny Henson replaced him and they recorded Aim For The Heart, a album that was better for the choice of a remake of Everything I Own, the old Bread classic, this time James Griffin did the vocals.  Jimmy sang on half of the 10 songs on Aim For The Heart, Robb Royer, an old Bread band mate and songwriter contributed the song Lucky Boy.  A bit more MOR pop while maintaining an eye on the country side, the record bombed and The Remingtons were let go from BNA.

The fact of the matter is that The Remingtons may have owed something from their soft rock beginnings but they were also were part of the music scene like that of Desert Rose Band.  A more friendlier sound than Desert Rose Band which meant more ballads.  And unfortunately for them what they had in mind for music, Black Hawk took a little bit further and had more hits.   Denny Henson and James Griffin continued on till Griffin died from cancer in 2005.

A footnote in country music of 1990s The Remingtons were not bad, most of the time they wrote their own songs. And anything Jimmy Griffin played in, he did give them a more rocking edge in the music they made. Nobody remembers them much anymore, today's country radio ignores them (like they do with Black Hawk and Desert Rose Band and even Restless Heart, unless Willie's Roadhouse plays them) and their CDs can be found in the dollar bins but both albums do have a good song or two. 

Blue Frontier (BNA 1992) B
Aim For The Heart (BNA 1993) B+

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