Diamond Rio was one of the most successful country-pop bands of the 1990s and early 2000s, racking up five #1 singles and numerous Top Five and Top Ten followups. The group was originally formed as one of the house bands at the Opryland amusement park in Nashville, and they honed their skills for nearly a decade before landing a major-label deal in 1991. Here's a quick look at their work...

Discography - Best-Ofs

Diamond Rio "Greatest Hits" (Arista, 1997)
Although this is a best-of set, it also included a couple of new songs, "How Your Love Makes Me Feel" and "Imagine That," which reached #1 on the charts, and turned out to be one of the band's biggest hits. So I guess that makes this a pretty good collection if you just want all-hits, all the time.

Diamond Rio "Super Hits" (Arista, 1999)

Diamond Rio "Greatest Hits II" (Arista, 2006)

Diamond Rio "16 Biggest Hits" (Sony-BMG Legacy, 2007)

Discography - Albums

Diamond Rio "Diamond Rio" (Arista, 1991)
(Produced by Tim DuBois & Monty Powell)

Slick, but twangy. Definitely more fun than what was to come. As is often the case with Nashville bands, their first album is the best for twangfans to try; they had a poppy neo-trad sound similar to Marty Stuart and Ricky Skaggs, with plenty of chicken-pickin' electric guitar and uptempo shuffle rhythms... This relatively rootsy sound eventually gave way to slicker, softer production, but this debut is pretty listenable. Includes first single, "Meet In The Middle," which went to the top of the charts -- a strong success for a brand-new band!

Diamond Rio "Close To The Edge" (Arista, 1992)
(Produced by Tim DuBois & Monty Powell)

Worth picking up since only one of the songs on here made it onto their "Greatest Hits" radar, leaving ten other tracks uncollected...and some are quite nice! Admittedly, there's a choppy quality to their work -- the vocals tend not to be very slick or smooth, but then again, this adds a slight roughness that's a little refreshing, particularly in such a resolutely commercial band. Many of these songs are, indeed, forgettable, but a couple, notably "Demons And Angels" and "It Does Get Better Than This," are top-notch, twangy pop.

Diamond Rio "Love A Little Stronger" (Arista, 1994)
(Produced by Michael D. Clute, Tim DuBois & Monty Powell)

Diamond Rio "IV" (Arista, 1996)
(Produced by Michael D. Clute, Tim DuBois & Diamond Rio)

Another catchy, completely formulaic, infectiously crafted set, with pop hooks a mile wide, and hummable songs with insistent, cheery choruses.... The sort of album that I can listen to without thinking about it, maybe tap my toes a little bit, even halfway start to hum along... That is, until someone comes by and says "what the hell are you listening to?!?" and I get all flustered and apologetic... Not exactly a guilty pleasure, but close. Words of caution: the best songs are at the album's start, and after a tune or two the songs all start to sound the same. Also, the slow songs can be skipped. But taken in small doses, this is okay.

Diamond Rio "Unbelievable" (Arista, 1998)
(Produced by Michael D. Clute & Diamond Rio)

Masters of pop-country formulae, Diamond Rio are the kind of band that can seduce you into listening to stuff you know is way too slick, and yet they make it sound kinda nice. There's an all-American country-rock feel to their group vocals that recalls the finer moments of the Eagles, America and Poco... it's just so gosh-darned wholesome and easy on the ears, what's there to fuss about, really? They slide a bit on the slower, cheesier power ballads, but for the most part, this is pretty pleasant.

Diamond Rio "One More Day" (Arista, 2001)
(Produced by Michael D. Clute & Diamond Rio)

They kinda went a little over the top on this one... The lyrics are too flowery, and so are the arrangements. I dunno; seems like they crossed the line over into sounding cloying and precious, and too self-important; the restrained pop craftsmanship of earlier albums has been sidetracked by the whole post-millennial Nashville uber-pop sound. It's way too studio-centered and self-indulgent. Even on a potentially moving, old-fashioned heartsong like "Hearts Against The Wind," they just can't resist overplaying, hamming it up and undercutting the songs emotional core. Oh well. Their earlier stuff was kinda fun.

Diamond Rio "Completely" (Arista, 2002)
(Produced by Michael D. Clute & Diamond Rio)

Maybe less sprawling and bombastic than their last album, but still too distant from their country roots. The 'Nsync-ish pop production that swamped Nashville is all too obvious on this disc, balanaced out by torpor-inducing love ballads. They seem to have completely lost their ability to tap into the simplicity of their early work; this pretentious, overreaching album is packed with embarrassments, from spazzy numbers like "The Box" to lounge-y indulgences such as "Something Cool." Skippable.

Diamond Rio "A Diamond Rio Christmas: The Star Still Shines" (Word, 2007)

Diamond Rio "The Reason" (Word, 2009)
Following their Christmas album of a couple of years earlier, Diamond Rio delves into "Contemporary Christian" music and Southern Gospel, applying the band's harmony singing to a religious message, with a less country, more pop-oriented sound.


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