Review: ‘Barry and the Remains’

Although he wouldn't have admitted it a couple of years ago, Barry Tashian is now a devout believer in the adage that absence makes the heart grow fonder. More than three decades ago, Tashian broke up the Remains to concentrate on a more "serious" career in country music, playing alongside folks such as Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris.

Although he wouldn’t have admitted it a couple of years ago, Barry Tashian is now a devout believer in the adage that absence makes the heart grow fonder. More than three decades ago, Tashian broke up the Remains — one of the most fondly remembered garage bands of the original Nuggets generation — to concentrate on a more “serious” career in country music, playing alongside folks such as Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris.

His change of heart was spurred by the discovery of an old diary chronicling the Remains’ opening slot on the Beatles final American tour — which Tashian turned into a charming book entitled “Ticket to Ride.” In the four years since its publication, Tashian and the three other original members of the band have toured intermittently and — as evidenced by a sweat-soaked Gotham set on Saturday — formulated an aural analog to the picture of Dorian Gray.

There was nothing fancy about the foursome’s hour-plus perf, which was evenly split between stomping originals like “Ain’t That Her” and “Me Right Now” (both of which got plenty of snap and crackle from Chip Damiani’s hard-driving drumming) and stripped-down covers such as “Diddy Wah Diddy” and “Hang on Sloopy.”

Tashian’s guitar playing is somewhat more sophisticated now than in the days when the Remains spearheaded the so-called Bosstown Sound. But as he proved on “Once Before” and a tumultuous cover of “I’m a Man,” he’s not about to let technique get in the way of a sharp sonic left hook.

None of the bands that took the stage at this edition of Cavestomp fell into the costume-rock trap that some garage hounds can’t seem to avoid. Likewise, most of the openers steered clear of one-trick pony revivalism, cagily cobbling together subtle variations on a theme, ranging from the fuzzed-out snottiness of Lady Kensington and the Beatlords to the spare, sinister surf-punk of Trenton-based Swingin’ Neckbreakers.

Evening’s most explosive perf was turned in by the Woggles, an Atlanta foursome that takes the soul-inflected rhythm ‘n’ rollick of the Fleshtones and laces it with enough caffeine to power a convoy of truckers across Route 66.

Singer Manfred Jones spent much of the set shimmying on the dance floor (or atop one of the club’s tables), barking out dance instructions (“Push,” “Doin’ the Montague”) or waxing multiculturally lustful (as on the chicken-fried Japanese ditty “Mela Mela”). Incorporating New Orleans-styled R&B and “Animal House”-worthy frat-rock, the Woggles bring the old-school rock revue into the modern age with grit and garrulousness to spare.

Barry and the Remains

Village Underground; 350 capacity; $17.50

Production

Presented by Renegade Nation Prods. and Cavestomp. Reviewed Aug. 18, 2001.

Cast

Musicians: Barry Tashian, Vern Miller, Bill Briggs III, Chip Damiani, the Woggles, the Swingin' Neckbreakers, Lady Kensington and the Beatlords and the Brimstones.
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