Saturday, November 13, 2010

Diamond Reo - Ruff Cuts (1978)

Diamond Reo's third and final album marked another stylistic shift in the band's sound. Where their debut was soulful and their sophomore release raucous, "Ruff Cuts" brings in elements of powerpop to the sound, while still retaining some of the edge found on "Dirty Diamonds". The album was their first locally pressed effort as well, being issued by Pittsburgh based Mad Dog Records. The band enjoyed continued regional success, but Nardini's departure in 1979 would prompt a full blown breakup. Members would go on to work as session men as well as involvement in acts like Norman Nardini and the Tigers, The Silencers and numerous local outfits.

"Ruff Cuts" unfortunately suffers from atrocious production, which makes this affair a mixed bag. There are several strong cuts that recall some of the better moments from "Dirty Diamonds", but the muted and muffled sound makes them come across amateurish and clumsy. Quite disappointing. On the upside, there's some real passion in these grooves and tracks like "Electricity" and "Party Girl" are proof. Overall, "Ruff Cuts" may be somewhat low on classic hooks, but the album holds historical importance.

A note about this vinyl transfer. I took a lot of time trying to get this LP to sound great without disrupting the integrity of the original recording. I EQ'd quite a bit, with the intention of bringing out the highs which were sorely absent on the original vinyl. I think it sounds a little better, but you can only 'polish a turd' so much. Your feedback is welcome, as always. Enjoy!