The vocal band Shenandoah were one of the most potent country ensembles of the late 1980s and 1990s... Lead singer Marty Raybon provided the band's soulful core; following his departure in 1997, the band dissolved for several years and then reformed in a Raybon-less edition. Although they enjoyed great success on the country charts, a series of lawsuits over the use of the "Shenandoah" bandname depleted the group's profits, and it was a struggle for them to reestablish themselves in the 1990s... Nonetheless, Shenandoah were one of the best bands of the era, the kind of modern country band that give "top forty" a good name. Here's a quick look at their work...

Discography - Best-Ofs

Shenandoah "Super Hits" (Columbia, 1994)

Shenandoah "Now & Then" (Capitol, 1996)
Wellll... this is sort of a best-of set, though actually these are re-recordings of their Columbia hits with a few new songs thrown in as well. Probably a big bummer if you were looking for the originals...

Shenandoah "Best Of" (RCA, 1995)

Discography - Albums

Shenandoah "Shenandoah" (Columbia, 1987)
This is the debut album by this slick country outfit...

Shenandoah "The Road Not Taken" (Columbia, 1989)
(Produced by Rick Hall & Robert Byrne)

Another slickly produced outing... Resolutely sentimental, and oddly enough, sonically richer and more rewarding than their subsequent albums, which sounded much more tinny and "'Eighties" than this one, which actually was produced in the '80s. It's pretty sappy, but skillfully made. Besides, Marty Raybon has a pretty nice voice. There were several #1 hits on here-- "Sunday In The South," "Two Dozen Roses" and "The Church On Cumberland Road" -- and three more in the Top Ten.

Shenandoah "Extra Mile" (Columbia, 1990)
(Produced by Rick Hall and Robert Byrne)

Like many bands in the early '90s, Shenandoah's production style was a hangover from the previous decade, with tinkly keyboards and airy production on the treble end. Fortunately, they also subscribed to the bouncier side of the pop equation: loping melodic numbers like "Next To You, Next To Me" (the album's #1 hit) and "She Makes The Coming Home (Worth The Being Gone)" are pretty durn fun, even if most of the slower songs drag the rest of the album to a halt (though "Daddy's Little Man" is a heart-tugging parenting song that's kid of sweet...) Overall, these guys were perfectly fine; there's certainly lots worse out there you could hear. Plus, it's refreshing that, unlike many country harmony groups, Shenandoah had a lead singer -- Marty Raybon -- who could actually sing quite well. Not sure if there's anything worthwhile on here that a good best-of collection wouldn't cover, though.

Shenandoah "Long Time Comin' " (RCA, 1992)
(Produced by Robert Byrne and Keith Stegall)

Kind of on the sleepy side, though Marty Raybon's voice is really nice to listen to. There are a couple of mildly engaging mid-tempo tunes -- "Rock Me Baby" was the big hit -- and plenty of slower, sappy tunes. One big surprise is the emotional resonance of the gospel-themed nostalgia tune, "Wednesday Night Prayer Meetin'," which looks whistfully back at an old country church... This album is filled with safe, slow material; didnŐt really grab me, though it is easy on the ears, and reasonably rootsy.

Shenandoah "Under The Kudzu" (RCA, 1993)
(Produced by Don Cook)

A pretty likeable, relatively down-to-earth album whose #1 hit, "If Bubba Can Dance (I Can, Too)" takes an affectionate poke at the then-booming line-dancing scene. Other tunes, like "Janie Baker's Love Slave" and "If It Takes Every Rib I've Got," are nice, no-nonsense, no-brainer honkytonk-pop novelty tunes that thump along at a nice clip. A few other songs go overboard, like the drippy ballad, "I Want To Be Loved Like That" (the albums other big hit), and some of the dorkier tunes drag on a bit as well... Overall, though, this ain't bad for a band whose glory days supposedly had come and gone several years earlier. Worth checking out, particularly if you're already a fan.

Shenandoah "Now & Then" (Capitol, 1996)
Wellll... this is sort of a best-of set, though actually these are re-recordings of their Columbia hits with a few new songs thrown in as well. Probably a big bummer if you were looking for the originals...

Shenandoah "Christmas" (Capitol, 1996)

Shenandoah "Fifteen Favorites" (Capitol, 1999)
Also re-recordings...

Shenandoah "2000" (Free Falls, 2000)
(Produced by Shenandoah)

This Raybon-less edition of the band has little to offer old fans... or anyone else, really. The songs are all pretty tired and by-the-numbers, and as earnest as lead singer Brent Lamb might try to be, he ain't no Marty Raybon. You can skip this one.

Solo Stuff

The Raybon Brothers "The Raybon Brothers" (MCA, 1997)
(Produced by Don Cook & Tony Brown)

Former lead singer Marty Raybon, along with his brother Tim, on an album that veers between the supper-sappy (the gospel-tinged "Butterfly Kisses") and ineffective, overproduced upbeat material like the almost-but-not-quite "The Way She's Lookin'." Those were the album's only two chart entries, and there's kind of a reason for it. I mean, look: it's nice Marty was able to keep his hat in the ring and if you're a big Shenandoah fan, you'll love this album, even though it sounds pretty forced overall. It's not bad, though it didn't really grab me; not until the second half, with the album's slowest song, "Every Fire," which is kinda nice, followed by the uptempo, Buck Owens-ish "Hello Love," and, to a lesser degree, "Just Tryin' To Keep The Woman I Got," songs which hold out promise that the rest of the album doesn't quite meet.

Marty Raybon solo - see artist discography


Hick Music Index

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