Diary was formed in Marietta, Georgia in 1981 by friends Murray
Attaway and Jeff Walls, about the same time that R.E.M. was getting
its start in Athens, Georgia. They were joined by drummer John Poe
and bassist Rhett Crowe, and soon released an LP with the name "Walking
In The Shadow Of The Big Man". The record was produced by Don
Dixon, known for his production work with early R.E.M. records.
It was popular with local college stations, but didn't catch on
nationally. Their second album, "Jamboree", was released
in 1986. That is when I found them. I bought "Jamboree"
in a record store in Athens, Georgia while I was living there with
my sister and her family. I was able to see the band at a cool little
club on the river in Athens called "O'Malley's". (One
memorable event from that evening...Murray stopped between songs
to say "Hey Everybody! It's Mary Berry's birthday!" We
all turned to see Bill Berry, the drummer from R.E.M. and his wife
Mary over in the corner.) Later that year, while working in California,
I saw the band open for R.E.M. at the Oakland Coliseum. And finally,
while attending an MTV event for local bands in Athens, we were
fortunate enough to find ourselves seated beside John Poe (the drummer,
remember?) and his wife. I remember his wife nudging John saying,
"John, he's a drummer too!" and John very politely nodding
and smiling like he really cared or something.
Diary went on to release a couple of more albums, but never gained
the national attention to carry them over the top. They finally
broke up, with Murray Attaway releasing a solo album. They recently
played together again, and rumors circulate that they might reform
of years ago I did a web search on GD and found that their first
two records have been released on a single CD for $13.99. When I
saw that I ran out of my hotel room, jumped in the car, went straight
to Borders, and found it. I have been in musical bliss every since.
There are several
great songs on the first record, "Walking In The Shadow Of
The Big Man", including "Trail Of Tears", "Watusi
Rodeo", and "Why Do The Heathen Rage?". But I guess
I'm just emotionally tied to the second record, "Jamboree".
Murray wrote several songs dealing with spiritual issues, such as
"Pray For Rain", "Fear Of God", and "Spirit
Train", all of which are pure gems on this CD. "Michael
Rockefeller", a song about the mysterious disappearance of
the son of Nelson Rockefeller off of the New Guinea coast in 1961,
is almost a tribute to R.E.M., with its Pink Floyd "Breathe"
chord sequence at double the tempo.
spread themselves among many genres, which possibly could have led
to their inability to catch on nationally. They threw in fun, humorous
tunes, such as "I See Moe" (yes, a song about the Three
Stooges) and "Cattle Prod", about a farmer with amorous
feelings toward his livestock. "T.R.O.U.B.L.E." is a nice
jazz/blues song that demonstrates all the musicians' talents.
When you listen
to this, you can't help but be overwhelmed with the tight rhythm
section of drummer John Poe and bassist Rhett Crowe. No disrespect
to Bill Berry of R.E.M. or any other fine drummers from that era,
but John Poe was much more than a drummer. He added expression and
dynamics to otherwise ordinary drum parts. His playing is one of
the standouts of this CD.
So, if you
are adventurous, order this CD and prepare to be impressed. Chances
are you won't find it at your local store, although I did find the
one copy that Borders had. Here's hoping that Guadalcanal Diary
give it one more shot.