Written by Bob DiPiero, Mark D. Sanders, and Steve Seskin
#1 (2 weeks)
July 20 – July 27, 1996
Radio & Records
#1 (1 week)
July 12, 1996
A mid-nineties band enjoys its only No. 1 hit.
The Road to No. 1
Ricochet was an Oklahoma-based band that formed in 1993. After touring the southern United States for two years, they landed a recording contract with Columbia Records. Their debut single, “What Do I Know,” went top ten. It was followed by their sole No. 1 hit.
The No. 1
Let’s get this nonsense out of the way first. The big rumor around this song in 1996 was that co-writer Bob DiPiero wrote it about his then-wife, Pam Tillis. There was indeed a song inspired by their relationship on the charts at the time, and it was much more substantive: “It’s Lonely Out There.”
The Ricochet hit is a novelty song written about a woman that only exists in the world of the song itself. It’s catchy and makes for reasonably entertaining radio filler.
It was enough to get their self-titled album to gold status, and to earn them a few industry award nominations, as well as them taking home the ACM Award for Top New Vocal Duo or Group.
But the album only going gold off the back of this massive radio hit, coupled with their soon fading chart fortunes, was an indication of how thin this nineties country formula was getting. The market was saturated, to the point that it was difficult at the time to distinguish Ricochet from Lonestar. Both bands launched with top ten ballads and then went No. 1 with an uptempo novelty song backed by their first music video.
Lonestar was able to pivot away from this dying style. Ricochet wasn’t. So we’ll be seeing only one of these bands again.
The Road From No. 1
Ricochet produced two additional hits: the top ten “Love is Stronger Than Pride” and the top twenty “Ease My Troubled Mind.” The band followed their debut album with Blink of an Eye in 1997, which produced the top twenty hit “He Left a Lot to Be Desired” and the top forty title track. Ricochet recorded a third album, What a Ride, that produced three low-charting singles, so it was never released. Their final Columbia album, 2000’s What You Leave Behind, failed to produce a top forty hit, and they exited the label. They’ve remained active as a band, though the list of past members now numbers twenty.
“Daddy’s Money” gets a C-.
Every No. 1 Single of the Nineties
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I liked the song in the 90s. I still like it as a guilty pleasure. But I agree with the grade.
I think what was notable about Ricochet, and I could very well be misremembering. But it’s a poorly kept secret in music, but especially in country, that bands don’t always play their own instruments on their records, and most of the non-vocal parts are studio musicians.
I’m pretty sure there was a Country Weekly article where they basically admitted as such, which completely surprised preteen me who still wasn’t aware of how the industry handled musical acts, especially new ones.
I completely apologize if I’m not remembering things correctly, but I could swear it was in one of their first/only CW features.
I remember learning about that same fact in a New Country article about Sawyer Brown, where the band commented on the fact that they were one of the only bands who played on their own records.
Funny. I remember reading about it when it was mentioned that Diamond Rio were one of the only groups that played on their own records.
Diamond Rio is the first group I always think of as one of the few who actually played on their own recordings. I love how you could always instantly tell it was them whenever one of their songs was on the radio.
As for Sawyer Brown, I love the more raw, authentic road band sound of their 90’s albums, especially from 1992’s Cafe On The Corner all the way up to 1997’s Six Days On The Road.
This is an interesting thread; I’d read and heard similar things in the early 90s, and the consensus was always that, among the A-list bands, it was really only Diamond Rio, Sawyer Brown, and The Mavericks who played on their own albums. The Kentucky Headhunters did, too, but Nashville was *real* quick to be done with them.
It makes for quite a contrast between the reality of the recording process and the way so many gatekeepers in country music double-down on the idea of “authenticity.” It’s similar to the arguments that led to the rockist vs poptimism schism in music criticism in the mid-aughts: The idea that, when a record was as great as “Since U Been Gone,” who cares if Kelly Clarkson co-wrote it or played guitar on it when she sang the holy hell out of it and used it to create a distinct persona? I mentioned The Bangles in our “first albums” post, and there were always rumors that they couldn’t play, when anyone who ever actually saw them live knew that they absolutely could: It’s usually women whose artistry is dismissed by these kinds of arguments.
In this case, “Daddy’s Money” *sounds* like the work of hired-gun studio musicians, not a band with an actual aesthetic of their own or a real point of view. Why would the guys in the band even want to create an illusion that they played something so mediocre?
Very interesting. I knew Alabama’s drummer didn’t play on a lot of their recordings in the 90s, and that they had a lot of session musicians with them on recordings/tour. But, I never really knew this was a common thing with a lot of vocal bands during that time frame. It kind of brings to mind the story I once heard about how the band members of “Poison”, the infamous 80’s rock band, essentially had to be taught how to become proficient with their instruments. This is not nearly the same thing, and it doesn’t necessarily bother me…I actually give Ricochet credit for admitting it back then. But, hearing something like this also makes me understand why someone might become more interested in a sub-genre of country music that is more focused on live music, such as bluegrass or the Texas scene. I think all of that focus on perfection can sometimes create a sterile sound, and as the review mentions…it definitely was leading to a lot of faceless bands that ultimately weren’t successful.
Also, not surprised to find out Diamond Rio was not involved in that, knowing the high caliber of musicianship in that band.
Those were the two 1990s bands I immediately thought of that, even though Marty Roe and Mark Miller were immediately recognizable voices, the instrumentation (Diamond Rio especially) was so distinctive and didn’t sound like Nashville studio musicians.
Oddly enough, they were also the two bands I saw together live in my last concert before the pandemic, when they came to the county fair in the next county over.
Sawyer Brown were criminally underrrated. I don’t think they ever shook off the Star Search stench, despite their excellent musicianship and having some of the best records of any country bands in the nineties. “All These Years” alone should’ve been enough to clinch a Grammy and a CMA Vocal Group trophy. Then again, Diamond Rio was so deserving as well that I understand their dominance at the CMA ceremony in the years where Sawyer Brown was best positioned to win (1992-1994, 1997.)
“Daddy’s Money” rivals Neil McCoy’s “The Shake” or Little Texas’ “Kick a Little” as the bottom of the barrel, country-dregs of the nineties for me. I instinctively – and frantically- change the channel when I hear this play on Prime Country. It’s the sin of mediocrity that does it in for me. The entire song sounds so assembled and contrived, from the production to the vocals. Even lyrically it’s so formulaic, predictable, and irritating. This song is a musical sliver, and the band a blister.
I do, however, love Diamond Rio and Sawyer Brown.
I actually quite like Ricochet, and they are one of my favorite bands from the mid-late 90’s. I think Heath Wright has a great, strong, and easily identifiable voice, and the other band members (especially the original lineup) usually provided some really good, unique sounding harmony vocals that blended well with his voice. In the band’s original lineup, they were almost like a throwback to vocal groups like The Oak Ridge Boys (Ex: their versions of “Let It Snow,” “It’s Alright,” and “Seven Bridges Road”), except they also played instruments on stage, as well. I especially always thought it was pretty neat that besides Junior Bryant, lead vocalist Heath Wright also occasionally played fiddle, and steel guitarist Teddy Carr also did harmony vocals, which is not too common.
With all that being said, this is easily my least favorite single from them. Unlike many of the 1996 singles we’ve seen so far, this one has not aged as well for me. In a year where we were slowly moving away from the cheesy line dance ready novelty tunes that were all the rage a couple years earlier in 1994, this feels like a regression back to those times, in hindsight. Plus, it has the misfortune of having that cringy “country as a turnip green” line that foreshadows what the genre would become nearly a decade later with all the “I’m country” check list songs (not to mention the chorus itself is also very listy). Like Stephen, I do still like the song as a guilty pleasure every now and then, plus I like Heath’s vocals and the harmonizing on it, but that’s as far as my enjoyment of it goes.
My personal favorite song of theirs is their debut single, “What Do I Know,” which I wish was their signature song instead. I absolutely love the Roy Orbison feel of that song, which features a great emotional performance from Heath and some excellent guitar work, throughout. I still vividly remember hearing it in early 1996 for the first time in the car with my dad one afternoon after school. Before it came on, the DJ said the group’s name, and I remember immediately thinking of Ricochet Rabbit, which was a cartoon I used to watch as a kid. Plus, I just thought it was a cool and unique name for a country group. :) Anyway, I remember really liking the song right away, and when they first started singing “Hey, hey what do I know? I’m just a lonely fool who let you go…” I was sold! It’s still one of my favorite songs today that brings back a lot of great memories. It really should’ve gone to number one, imo.
When I was getting nostalgic for mid 90’s country around late 2001, Ricochet’s debut album was one I picked out for Christmas that year. It was mostly because I wanted to hear “What Do I Know” so bad again (which never got played anymore in our area), but I also liked other singles from it like “Love Is Stronger Than Pride” and “Ease My Troubled Mind.” I ended up also really liking many other cuts on it like “The Truth Is, I Lied” “From Good To Bad To Worse To Gone,” “A Little Bit Of Love (Is A Dangerous Thing),” “I Can’t Dance,” and “Rowdy.” It’s overall a pretty solid neo-traditional flavored album with slight rock influences featuring their unique harmonies.
I also quite like their follow up, 1997’s Blink of An Eye, featuring another one of my favorite songs of theirs, “He Left A Lot To Be Desired.” I actually love the more contemporary feel of that album, which kind of reminds me of the direction Lonestar would take for Lonely Grill, but unfortunately, radio wasn’t too receptive. I also got that album for Christmas in 2002 when I was collecting albums from 1997 and 1998. :)
2000’s What You Leave Behind actually included some cuts from the shelved What A Ride Album from 1998, I believe. I particularly think “Baby Hold On,” “Fall Of The Year,” and their version of Mickey Newbury’s “Why You Been Gone So Long” were from the What A Ride sessions, which are three of my favorites from it.
Btw, I love the nice fancy outfits these guys wore back then! I especially love Junior Bryant’s cool jacket in this photo (third guy from the left). With Midland being the one exception I can think of, I really miss seeing these artists dressing in style, which is another thing missing today, imo!
I was born in 92 and listened to country music all my life but didn’t really pay attention and really listen and fall in love with country music to around 06. This song was played a lot so I thought it was a new song and was really surprised to find out it was from the 90’s. So at least it sounds good lol