60's Band The Remains
March 13, 2009 1:00 PM   Subscribe

"America's Lost Band"...1964...The Remains. Opening act for The Beatles first US tour. One of the great what-might-have-been (but didn't) stories of American music of the 60’s.
posted by ecorrocio (23 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Except now they're back, with a new album (and re-releasing their 1966 self-titled debut). Here's more back story, noting that the original members of the Remains reunited for a while in 1976, and later did shows in Spain and New York City in 1998 and have since appeared in Boston and Las Vegas.
posted by filthy light thief at 1:20 PM on March 13, 2009

Cool post, I knew nothing about The Remains...

Off topic, there was another Beatles related "lost act", this one from the night the Beatles first played Ed Sullivan: Charlie Brill and Mitzi McCall. Their story was on a recent episode of This American Life.
posted by rollbiz at 1:22 PM on March 13, 2009

posted by asfuller at 2:14 PM on March 13, 2009

What do the Remains have to do with the Cyrke? Are they the same band? Because I (ahem) remember the Cyrkle opening for the Beatles. . .
posted by Danf at 3:01 PM on March 13, 2009

Having heard the Remains live, and listened to their previously re-released material, I can only say they are no more America's lost band, than any of the million other mid-list bands, one-hit wonders, and shooting stars of that musically magnificent 60s. The Remains were no more special than the Rationals, the Gants, the Count Five, Beau Brummels... the list could go on and on and on. The 60s were so musically overendowed, that even the mediocre groups were great, or could at least come up with one mind-thumpingly stupendous song ("96 Tears" anyone?). Even the manufactured boy bands (Paul Revere and the Raiders, the Monkees) were knocking out one great single after another. The Remains didn't stand out that much. They have nothing so great as the Barbarians, "Are You a Boy, or Are You a Girl," not even a "Little Black Egg." What they do have is cheerleaders, who every time the 60s are mentioned, make sure that the Remains lack of success is singled out as some kind of tragic loss, like the early deaths of Mozart and George Gershwin. In fact, during the 60s, when any wretched gaggle of teenaged idiots (Swinging Medallions) could produce a deathless single ("Double Shot of My Baby's Love"), the crap-slinging Remains gave us "Moulty," -- a song whose sheer badness almost brought the whole decade to a screeching halt. Only a few minutes ago, I was goggling at the sheer coolness of "Judy in Disguise," a clueless hillbilly parody of "Lucy in the Sky" by John Fred and his Playboy Band. Even an off-the-wall mistake like "Judy in Disguise" was so full of happiness and energy and goofy joy that you have to love it. Compare any song out of the 60s, from the 10,000th rendition of "Gloria" by Anyband, from Anytown, to a superslick masterpiece like "Rag Doll" by the Four Seasons, to that manure pile "Moulty", and ask yourself just how bad a band had to be to get "lost" in the 60s. Let us hear no more of the Remains.
posted by Faze at 3:23 PM on March 13, 2009 [6 favorites]

The Cyrkle opened for the Beatles on their 1966 tour (where I heard 'em). They were a pretty good, Brian Epstein managed group, whose two hits included Paul Simon's "Red Rubber Ball." They were approximately a trillion times better than the Remains -- and they weren't even that good.
posted by Faze at 3:26 PM on March 13, 2009

I must agree with Faze (although he gives the Beau Brummels little credit for their lengthy and consistent excellence and brilliant songwriting by grouping them with obviously lesser bands.) The Remains simply weren't that great; their greatest claim to fame would seem to be Barry Tashian's continued involvement in the music industry and the fact that they opened for the Beatles. And guess what? A lot of crappy bands opened for the Beatles.

And the main point is true - they didn't even manage one ace tune. A lot of "competent" garage stuff, but nothing with much force, personality or even novelty.

BTW, "Moulty" is actually the autobiographical tale of the Barbarians' drummer and was written by that band, if I'm not mistaken - not the Remains. And John Fred's other work from the same period might have you believe its coolness was pretty well-conceived, and not clueless at all.
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 3:35 PM on March 13, 2009

Yep, "Moulty" is definitely a Barbarians song.

Also, Paul Revere and the Raiders weren't "fabricated" beyond their management dressing them up in colonial garb for a couple of years. Low-concept schticks like that was very common back in the day - e.g., the Count Five's capes, the Strangeloves' "Australian" gear, hell, even the Beach Boys had a uniform (and were originally known as The Pendletones because of their sartorial inclinations).

Barry Tasian, the Remains' lead singer and songwriter, has gone on to be a fairly successful studio musician and songwriter in Nashville.
posted by joseph_elmhurst at 3:49 PM on March 13, 2009

I remember them as Barry & the Remains. They must have dropped 'Barry &' after I stopped paying attention. That would have been right after I started paying attention.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:11 PM on March 13, 2009

As I recall, Moulty had bit most of his tongue off in some teenaged mishap.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:13 PM on March 13, 2009

There ought to be a museum for things like "bands that opened for the Beatles". It would include all the people who stood in the shadows next to blinding greatness. There would be a section for Michael Collins (who stayed in orbit while Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin first walked on the moon). There would be an homage to the two dudes who were crucified alongside Jesus. And it would have a film library devoted to clips from porn movies of guys arriving at the door with a pizza.
posted by twoleftfeet at 4:18 PM on March 13, 2009 [2 favorites]

As I recall, Moulty had bit most of his tongue off in some teenaged mishap.

Indeed? Mick Jagger makes the same claim. Different tongue, different results....
posted by IndigoJones at 4:44 PM on March 13, 2009

Low-concept schticks like that was very common back in the day

Another good example: the ‘Sir Douglas’ Quintet, a classic bunch of Tex-Mex musicians dressing in fancy suits and trying to make people think they were part of the English invasion.

Nice post, in any case. As a relic of the 60s I of course agree with Faze about the generally high quality of stuff back then.
posted by LeLiLo at 5:14 PM on March 13, 2009

Aaand my recollection was wrong. It was his arm, not his tongue.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 5:18 PM on March 13, 2009

The announcer for 1964 Beatles concert in Chicago sounded like Obama. Could it be possible?
posted by Xurando at 6:19 PM on March 13, 2009

no, america's lost band is the mynah birds
posted by pyramid termite at 8:44 PM on March 13, 2009

If you had to find some alt. Mick, I'd be going with The Chocolate Watchband. But if you go down the path of unrecognized genius, well, that would be the 13th Floor Elevators. And just to note, Led Zeppelin got their start from ripping off this folkie...
posted by wallstreet1929 at 8:45 PM on March 13, 2009

13th floor elevators are certainly not 'unrecognized'. genius? oh, yes. but they had plenty recognition and respect, from many quarters -- if not the populist adoration and big money.
much like love.
and yeah, dee xtrovert is right, faze - beau brummels were of a higher caliber than the rest of the bands in your list. but good to see the shout out!
and lelilo - glad to hear you mention doug sahm! a quirky genius, and though i was but a wee babe in the '60's i often heard (and read about) the quintet spoken of in near-reverent tones.
but the remains? great name! but not nearly as cool as the standells... or the seeds.
if we're talking about an unsung band of fabulosity, i'd like to mention the misunderstood.
posted by lapolla at 11:57 PM on March 13, 2009

He bit his arm off??!!!
posted by carping demon at 1:38 AM on March 14, 2009

The (mild) case for The Gants via a three-fer (don't care for the song in the middle, but dig the blues licks on the third track--from 1965, at a time when the Beatles weren't doing anything remotely like that, although Dylan had just started to, and was being booed all over for it) and Roadrunner.
posted by raysmj at 2:06 AM on March 14, 2009

He bit his arm off??!!!

Seems it was a very early MetaTalk flameout. The techniques were a little unrefined back then.

Actually, it was explosives.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:10 AM on March 14, 2009

He bit his arm off??!!!

Hard act to follow. I can see why Mick contented himself to leave it at the tongue level.
posted by IndigoJones at 6:59 AM on March 14, 2009

Well.... bottom line has to be that they indeed stood in the shadow of blinding greatness, which makes it interesting. The tunes are catchy (like many one hit wonders of the era), but no great shakes.

rollbiz's comment: Off topic, there was another Beatles related "lost act", this one from the night the Beatles first played Ed Sullivan: Charlie Brill and Mitzi McCall. Their story was on a recent episode of This American Life....
is well worth a look. I heard that episode, and the story is well told.

The Remains have an interesting similarity to the fictional Wonders from Tom Hank's movie "That Thing You Do". You can just see their parents watching them on Sullivan.

Great posts all 'round!
posted by ecorrocio at 2:12 PM on March 16, 2009

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