Treat Her Right

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This article is about the blues band. For the songs, see Treat Her Right (Roy Head song) and Treat Her Right (Sawyer Brown song).
Treat Her Right
Origin Boston, Massachusetts, United States
Genres Blues rock, roots rock
Years active 1984–1991, 1995–1998, 2009–present
Labels RCA Records, Rounder Records
Associated acts Morphine, The The
Members Dave Champagne
Jim Fitting
Steve Mayone
Billy Beard
Past members Mark Sandman
Billy Conway

Treat Her Right is a blues rock group formed in Boston, Massachusetts in 1984. The band originally featured Mark Sandman on "low guitar," Billy Conway on drums, Dave Champagne on guitar, and Jim Fitting on harmonica. Singing and songwriting duties were shared by all but Conway. Champagne and Fitting reformed the band in 2009 with new members Steve Mayone and Billy Beard.

In addition to being the forerunner to the successful indie rock band Morphine, Treat Her Right is often credited with helping to spawn the punk-blues hybrid (sometimes dubbed cowpunk, among other titles) that achieved prominence in the early 2000s. Critic Ira Robbins described Treat Her Right as "[n]ot quite a blues band, not exactly swamp trash and too stylized for basic rock'n'roll."[1]

History[edit]

Career (1984–1998)[edit]

The band derived its name from the 1965 international smash hit by Roy Head and the Traits, "Treat Her Right." Their instrumentation was somewhat unusual, with Sandman's "low guitar" mimicking a bass guitar, and Conway playing a Cocktail drum rather than the more common drum kit.

The group's self-financed and self-titled debut was released on a small Boston record label in 1986 before being issued in the UK by Demon Records and the group signed to RCA Records, who reissued the debut in the United States. Their first recording attempt was a modest success – Champagne's "I Got a Gun" and Sandman's cover of James Blood Ulmer's "Where Did All the Girls Come From?" received some play on college radio. "I Think She Likes Me" describes Sandman's experience in a Fairplay, Colorado bar where a woman came on to him. Critic John Dugan described the debut as "slick, intelligent, sly, and well worth your while."[2]

Tied to the Tracks was issued in 1989. Sales did not meet RCA's expectations. In the notes for their third record, the group writes, "RCA decided that if our little basement tape could do so well, why not spend fifty times more money and it will be fifty times better! (They think everything works like that.)" Treat Her Right were dropped from their RCA contract.

What's Good for You, their third album, was issued on Rounder Records in 1991. The ragged, live-in-the-studio sound was partly inspired by the model established by Chess Records, which had released many classic blues and early rock and roll records. Shortly after this third release, Treat Her Right disbanded.

The group reformed in 1995 under the direction of Rolling Stones backup guitar player Bob Anderson,[citation needed] but disbanded for the second time in 1998.

Other projects and post-breakup[edit]

Fitting later played with The The, The Coots and Session Americana. Champagne remained musically active, playing with groups such as The Jazz Popes.[3] Sandman formed Morphine in 1989, which Conway joined in 1993. Although more blues-based than Morphine, Treat Her Right sowed the seeds of Sandman's later sound with its unusual instrumentation (Sandman's guitar with Treat Her Right was a three string custom model, making it sound more like a bass guitar) and slightly dark focus, most evident on the Sandman-penned songs.

Sandman died of a heart attack while onstage with Morphine in Italy in 1999. In 2004, Sandbox: The Mark Sandman Box Set was released; culled from Sandman's personal archive, the 2-CD/1-DVD set included several Treat Her Right songs, although for reasons that remain unclear, Jim Fitting's name was left out of every possible credit.

Reformation (2009–present)[edit]

The Treat Her Right song "Rhythm & Booze" was featured on The Hangover soundtrack, released in 2009. In the summer of this same year, The Lost Album, a record of unreleased Treat Her Right material, was released by Hi-n-Dry. Shortly thereafter, Treat Her Right reunited to mark the ten-year anniversary of Sandman's death at the Mark Sandman Memorial Concert in September, and the band continued activity thereafter. Champagne and Fitting led the new version of Treat Her Right, joined by Steve Mayone playing low guitar and Billy Beard (previously of the Boston new wave band Face to Face) playing drums.

Discography[edit]

  • Treat Her Right (1986)
  • Tied to the Tracks (1989)
  • What's Good for You (1991)
  • The Anthology 1985-1990 (1998)
  • The Lost Album (2009)

References[edit]