RRB’s Hidden Gems
Over the past 17 years, Randy Rogers Band has cranked out some of the most memorable and standard bearing songs of the Texas/Red Dirt scene. Their album Rollercoaster remains atop most lists as the best to ever come from this subgenre of music. The hits are well known, be it “Kiss Me in the Dark”, “Interstate”, “Tonight’s Not the Night”, “Trouble”, “Fuzzy” etc. Today, Randy celebrates a birthday and in honor of that and the fact that the band released many of its records around this date throughout the years, we’re going to take a deeper look at the RRB collection. Over the course of the past two decades, this band has cranked out very little filler. Here’s a look at their top 10 hidden gems and deep cuts…the tunes that aren’t in the setlist often enough.
“Never Be That High” from 2008’s self-titled album
This Stephony Smith co-write encapsulates youthful abandon and regret with one of the best hooks ever laid down in Texas music contained in the line “We used to catch a buzz on the fact that it was Saturday night…”. It’s a Seger-esque look at heartland adolesence. When all you needed was an open road, $10, your friends and the optimism that something might happen. An adrenalized version of Bruce Robison’s “Tonight”.
“If Anyone Asks” from 2006’s Just A Matter of Time
Drew Womack had knocked down many of the Nashville walls that the RRB now found themselves traversing on their 2006 major label debut. Womack co-wrote this one with Rogers and it is epic in the John Ford sense of the word. The sweeping melody provided by Brady Black’s fiddle is punctuated with some of Rogers’ most achingly real vocals.
“Reason To Stay” from 2002’s Like It Used To Be
Written by lead guitarist Geoffrey Hill, this waltz comes from the early pre-fiddle era of the band that featured the steel guitar of Eddie Foster. There aren’t ever enough good waltz’s and this winsome, longing love song is one of the best. And the vocal on the end of the bridge is one of Rogers’ finest.
“Didn’t Know You Could” from 2008’s self-titled album
Rogers pulled Micky Braun into the co-writers seat for this verging on alt-rocker that rips through a stick-with-you melody and pushes Rogers’ rasp to its upper vocal reaches. Radney Foster’s production falls in the vein of his own See What You Want To See era and make this one of the least country, yet most effective songs in the RRB catalog.
“One More Sad Song” from 2013’s Trouble
Very similar to the previous track, this Sean McConnell co-write pushes the band’s sonic boundaries and veers into Rogers love for 90’s alt-rock. Bands like Blue October and Flickerstick led the late 90’s/early 00’s Texas alt-rock scene…but this song demonstrates that Rogers and the boys can pull that off very well too.
“65 Degrees” from 2000’s Live at Cheatham Street
A ramschackle production just to have something to sell at the pitiful merch stand and send to promoters/booking agents etc in the early internet days. The live record wasn’t good, but it was real and it showed promise. Other tracks from that record live on like “Lost and Found” and “I Miss You With Me”, but this one evoked Rogers at his early Steve Earle best. Vivid, authentic, real. A character portrait of small town Texas. It was a testament to those of us around during that time that maybe we were all doing something right.
“I Met Lonely Tonight” from 2010’s Burning the Day
Rogers’ songwriting is never better than when he is painting Dean Dillon-esque barstool seclusion and heartache. This song was written solely by Rogers and distills all of his best qualities in one tune…both vocally and with his pen.
“Still Be Losing You” from 2002’s Like It Used To Be
The band’s first studio release wasn’t fully formed, but it did signal a band and songwriter with something to say. This commendation to an ex-lover was a live favorite in the early day and the attitude with which Rogers delivers the vocals are a testament that even her dog now knows his name.
“You Don’t Know Me” from 2006’s Just a Matter of Time
Bassist Johnny “Chops” Richardson has contributed a Waylon-esque thumper to each album. “Ten Miles Deep” and “Shotgun” are more well-known, but this Hank Jr/Charlie Daniels Band swamp rocker just might be the best.
“Things I Need to Quit” from 2016’s Nothing Shines Like Neon
It’s still too early to tell what will be the most lasting songs off the latest RRB release, but this song that Rogers did not write seems to have not received it’s fair share of buzz. This is a honky-tonk master class in regret, despair and tiny threads of hope.
“Satellite” from 2014’s Homemade Tamale’s: Live at Floore’s
This studio track was tacked on as a bonus to a live record and I’m adding it to the end of this list. The song kind of slipped through the cracks and it has a very cool video (above) that stars some of the band member’s kids. It’s a classic RRB song thematically and musically, but it matches forlorn verses with a bombastic chorus that showcases many of the elements that make the band so solid and versatile.