Right as Rain

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The rootsy power pop quartet Right as Rain unfortunately released their two albums on the estimable DB Records label just as that Georgia post-punk institution was winding down operations. As a result,…
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The rootsy power pop quartet Right as Rain unfortunately released their two albums on the estimable DB Records label just as that Georgia post-punk institution was winding down operations. As a result, the Atlanta-based band never reached the national audience they deserved, though they were popular on the local scene for many years.

Right as Rain formed in Atlanta in the early '80s. Singer and primary songwriter Rick Taylor, lead guitarist Jonny D., bassist James St. James (who filled the George Harrison role, adding a couple songs per album), and drummer Bruce Threlkeld were veterans of the Atlanta music scene, although from different avenues. Jonny D. had spent time in the still-thriving local blues-rock scene, whereas Taylor's roots were in bluegrass. (Right as Rain had a tongue-in-cheek part-time side project, Those Big Belt Buckles, which played bluegrass in local bars; this version of the group contributed a terrific version of Michael Martin Murphey's "What Am I Doin' Hangin' 'Round?" to Here No Evil, a 1992 tribute to the Monkees.)

In their early career, Right as Rain often played with the early incarnation of the Black Crowes, when that group was known as Mr. Crowe's Garden. (Taylor later played banjo on several Black Crowes albums.) Though the two groups shared some influences, Right as Rain's poppier sound made them just right for Danny Beard's DB Records. DB signed the group in 1987 and released their first album, Undertown, in late 1988, produced by the not-yet-famous Brendan O'Brien. A personnel shakeup shortly thereafter led to Jonny D.'s replacement by a local scene fixture, R&B specialist Mike Lorenz, whose credits included a stint in James Brown's band. The reconstituted Right as Rain recorded their second album, 1991's Stop Look and Listen, with several local stars sitting in, including Anne Richmond Boston, Jeff Calder, and Bob Elsey of the Swimming Pool Qs. The sessions were difficult, with O'Brien replaced, after only a few songs had been completed, by ex-Coolies leader Rob Gal. Bizarrely, the album reprises the debut's "A Girl Like Jesus," not with a remake but with the exact same recording that had appeared on Undertown.

Right as Rain disbanded in late 1992, but the original lineup of the band, with Jonny D., reunited and began playing Atlanta clubs in 2000. Mike Lorenz, who had gone on to play lead guitar in the Atlanta blues fixture the Shadows, was found dead in his car, apparently from accidental carbon monoxide poisoning, on July 3, 2001.