Tommy Talton – Until After Then (Hittin’ the Note Records)
Album Review by Scott B. Bomar (author: Southbound: An Illustrated History of Southern Rock)
Six decades in, it’s clear that guitarist and songwriter Tommy Talton is still making music for the sheer joy of it. Until After Then, his fourth album for Hittin’ the Note Records, is a breezy romp through Talton’s wide-ranging musical interests. He manages to perform with both the energy of a music-obsessed kid and the restraint of a seasoned veteran – because, at heart, he is both.
During the late 1960s a teenaged Talton honed his chops with central Florida’s regionally popular We the People. They released singles on the Challenge and RCA labels, but Tommy eventually wound up in Southern California where he reinvented himself as a folk-rock troubadour. After returning to the Sunshine State, he joined forces with Scott Boyer to form a new band that would come to be known as Cowboy. At the urging of Duane Allman, the group was signed to Capricorn Records and Talton relocated to Macon, Georgia where he played with his own group - while also working as a studio musician backing the Allman Brothers Band, Bonnie Bramlett, Clarence Carter, and others. Following a stint playing guitar for Gregg Allman, Tommy ultimately relocated to Europe, where he continued to perform with a group known as the Rebelizers.
Though Talton now makes his home in Georgia, Until After Then was recorded in Alabama with an impressive array of guest musicians, including Amazing Rhythm Aces veteran Billy Earheart, Muscle Shoals Swamper David Hood, Capricorn drummer Bill Stewart, and Wet Willie guitarist Rick Hirsch. Drummer David Keith pulled double duty keeping the beat and co-producing the album with Tommy.
The record immediately crackles to life as the guitar and organ stabs on the title track manage to be both subdued and exciting in that perfect soul-infused Southern-cool kind of way that defines classic songs like “I’ll Take You There.” The instruments may be sparse, but the arrangement leaps from the speakers and demands your attention, particularly when Talton displays his sensitive touch on the tasteful lead guitar work.
“Real Sugar” is a playful musing on the ways we’re bombarded with unpronounceable chemical ingredients in commercially packaged food products. It works as an extended metaphor for a general sense of authenticity - a spirit reinforced by the horn lines that conjure what it might sound like if the classic era Stax musicians tackled the social issues of our day.
With “Mr. Love,” Talton explores his psychedelic side with a dreamy Beatlesque melody. That same influence appears again throughout the album, most notably on “My, O, My,” a sparsely arranged gem that sounds like a Wings-era McCartney ballad enhanced by Talton’s beautifully restrained slide guitar work. It’s a high point among this collection of strong melodies.
Tommy Talton isn’t afraid to explore the full spectrum of his musical influences. From the South-of-the-border-meets-laid-back-island vibe of “I Keep My Mind On You,” to the Dickey Betts-invoking guitar work of “You Got a Friend,” to the echoes of Cowboy in the acoustic tones of “She Was There,” Until After Then is an album that consistently hits the high marks of Talton’s musical loves but never sounds like imitation. He is the unique talent who wears his influences on his sleeve, but makes sure to leave his own fingerprints highly visible.
Two of my personal favorite tracks appear late in the record. “The Man From Down Near Waco” is a tribute to Talton’s old friend Billy Joe Shaver. Featuring echoes of Waylon Jennings (thanks largely to John Kulinich’s twangy electric guitar leads), it’s also an exceptional lyric. “Love U A Little” sounds like a delightfully semi-deranged circus tune that could easily be an outtake from Bob Dylan and The Band’s Basement Tapes.
Unlike many veterans whose best years of making music are well behind them, Talton continues to be consistently engaging.
Do yourself a favor and explore any part of his vast catalog. Until After Then is a great place to get started.
Tommy Talton was a founding member of Capricorn Records group Cowboy. While in Macon, GA through most of the 70s, Talton was a studio musician recording with artists such as Bonnie Bramlett, Martin Mull, Corky Lang (West, Bruce and Lang, Mountain), Gregg Allman, Dickey Betts, Clarence Carter, country legend Kitty Wells, Alex and Livingston Taylor, Arthur Conley of Sweet Soul Music fame, and more. He toured extensively throughout the U.S. with Cowboy and with the Gregg Allman Tour.
On Tommy Talton’s third release from Hittin’ the Note Records in October 2012, titled "Let’s Get Outta Here," he has written the most compelling music of his career. Always known as a gifted wordsmith and creator of authentically timeless melodies, Tommy has reached deep within his creative well to create a classic Southern masterpiece. Very special guests joined Tommy on the new release, including Chuck Leavell, Paul Hornsby, Rick Hirsch, Scott Boyer, NC Thurman, Bill Stewart, Kelvin Holly, Brandon Peeples, David Keith, Red Young and Tony Giordano.
The title track "Let's Get Outta Here" sets the standard for the set and has Van Morrison written all over it while 'You Can't Argue With Love' is simply one of the finest songs Talton, with co-writer Rick Hirsch, has ever written, bringing his trademark slide guitar and vocals to the fore.Both 'Dream Last Night' with it's haunting melody and ethereal guitar work from Rick Hirsch along with 'Make It Through The Rain' that has former "Cowboy" band member Scott Boyer providing harmony vocals have that laid back Crosby/Nash feel to them.
Easy to see why you could get caught up in the hysteria of Mardis Gras on 'Slacabamorinico' that delivers Dixieland right to your doorstep complete with horn section and Chuck Leavell on piano, who incidentally makes his presence felt on 'Where Is The World?' that will have Steely Dan aficionados dancing for joy! A melancholy 'Recent Rain' recalls love lost before the tale of a fling with a married woman 'Sunk Down In Mississippi' well and truly delivers the blues. Next up is the outstanding 'If Your Attitude Is Funky (Nobody Wants Your Monkey) that witnesses the band in full flow, latching on to the songs solid beat which in turn allows each member to strut their stuff. The country ballad 'Half Of What She Is (Is All I Can Hope To Be) again featuring Scott Boyer on harmony preludes a recording of 'Momma Julie Remembers," before the band shake it down one more time on 'Give A Little Bit (A Tribute To Levon Helm).
Having recorded with such luminaries as Gregg Allman, Billy Joe Shaver, Bonnie Bramlett and Clarence Carter, to name but a few, Tommy Talton makes 'Let's Get Outta Here' his own laying down some of his best material to date!
Sample/buy/download all the tracks on "Let's Get Outta Here" at
http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/tommytalton1 ,and see what you've been missing!
John Stracey-Blues www.bluesconnection.com
repost-> the gregg allman tour "Laid Back '74"
Gregg Allman's tour in support of his debut solo LP, Laid Back, led to the recording of this album (originally two LPs) at Carnegie Hall in New York and the Capitol Theatre in Passaic, NJ. It's a match for Laid Back in musical value and then some, with a good, wide range of repertory and great performances throughout by all concerned, plunging head-first and deep into blues, R&B, honky tonk, and gospel. Strangely enough, the album contains only three of Laid Back's songs — "Don't Mess Up a Good Thing" opens the show in a properly spirited, earthy manner, but it's the second song, "Queen of Hearts," in a soaring rendition, with gorgeous backing by Annie Sutton, Erin Dickins, and Lynn Rubin, and superb sax work by Randall Bramblett and David Brown, that shows Allman in his glory as a singer and bandleader. Allman gives a lively, raucous, honky tonk-style rendition of the Elvis Presley hit "I Feel So Bad," complete with a killer guitar solo by Tommy Talton, and "Turn on Your Lovelight" gets an extended treatment worthy of the Allman Brothers Band. One would expect that, with Chuck Leavell and Jaimoe present in the band, there were be more similarity to the Allmans' sound, and that they'd be prominently featured, but Tommy Talton and bassist Kenny Tibbetts get more of a spotlight. Several Allman Brothers songs are present here, in more laid-back and lyrical versions, and the Capricorn Records band Cowboy — essentially serving as the core of Allman's touring band — gets a featured spot with two songs, "Time Will Take Us" and "Where Can You Go," that leave one wanting to hear a lot more concert material from them, and from Talton as a singer. The Gregg Allman Tour was reissued on CD in late 2001 by Polydor in a clearer, sharper remastered edition that contains Martin Mull's complete introduction of the band. ---by Bruce Eder
The Tommy Talton Story…
Rhythm & Blues is not a complex musical style. Nobody understands this better than vocalist & master guitarist, Tommy Talton. Like other veteran R & B musicians, Talton is not about how fast he can play, nor is he about how many chord changes fit into a measure, or how many tempo changes can be built into a song. What Talton does care about is touch, restraint, texture, and feel. He cares most about those notes that remain, as yet, unplayed.
Singer/songwriter Tommy Talton has spent an entire career searching out just these essential notes. Never showboating or grandstanding, Talton ‘lays back’, allowing a refined flair for lyrical melodies, and velvety guitar hooks to speak for him.
It is this ‘laid back’ technique which catapulted Talton from Macon, GA to sold-out dates at Carnegie Hall with the Gregg Allman Band and ultimately out-drawing ex-Beatle, George Harrison at the Fillmore West. Listening to a Talton finely crafted song is like watching a lathe-smith turn wood into finely sculpted art. Talton’s extraordinary songwriting abilities deliver material with ‘texture and theme’, resonating freshness no matter where, or when his music is played. You would expect this magnitude of talent coming from a musician that grew up in New York City, LA, or Chicago, but not in the uncontrived, pre-Walt Disney World, of Central Florida.
Talton’s earliest musical influences came at the age of 4 while listening to sing-along favorites like Patti Page’s 1953 hit “How Much is That Doggie in the Window” with his mother on the family’s radio. By 1956 Talton recalls listening to vinyl with his older sister as Elvis sang “Hound Dog,” and then rifling her record collection for other gems.
At age eight, before he ever picked up a guitar or slide, Talton would sneak a transistor radio under his pillow at night, and stay awake for hours, listening to local Orlando radio stations, WDBO, WHOO, or WLOF. Through the feathers, Talton began developing an early ear for musical nuances. He began to notice, early on, how the guitar and drummer played against each other, or how the keyboard worked together with the drummer, and the vocalist. Talton paid particular attention to flawless harmonies, listening to vocal groups like the Everly Brothers sing classics such as “Lucille” or “Cathy’s Clown.” While most boys his age were still mastering the bottom row of the big crayon box, Talton had taught himself the primary shades, hues, and tones of Music, an art form that would become his life’s passion.
These early musical influences seemed as endless as the Central Florida orange groves that spread in every direction from 1960s Orlando. If doomed to hear only one record on a deserted island for the rest of his life, however, Talton said it would be “You Send Me” by Sam Cooke. “Everything is perfect about that song,” said Talton, “His vocal, the lyrics, the approach, the feeling that he conveys, and the texture of the recording. That song is the perfect vehicle for recording a musical feeling and emotion—it covers it all.”
Talton began to play guitar and write music in the early 1960s. He soon landed a job in a Central Florida group called the Nonchalants—that morphed into the Offbeets—eventually it became We the People. We the People garnered local attention, challenging the likes of The Night Crawlers and The Allman Joys for stage time. Talton, and We the People played throughout the state of Florida, and as far north as Kentucky chasing that elusive hit record. Playing a variety of teen clubs, nightclubs, and armories, We the People, eventually settled into the beer infused southern fraternity circuit—playing primarily at FSU and the University of Florida.
It was during late night drives back home from fraternity gigs at Florida colleges with We the People that Talton discovered a radio station from far off Nashville, TN that was to turn his musical world on its ear.
Talton and other central Florida teens that were ‘in the know’ discovered a closely guarded secret in the early 1960s. What they discovered was that on clear nights, after 10 pm when atmospheric conditions were just right, they could tune their AM radios to 1510, and something extraordinary would happen. The music that crackled forth from those tiny AM radio speakers, tuned to WLAC, was as opposite from his mother’s Perry Como as it could possibly be.
Like musical manna falling from the night sky, WLAC would offer a magical, musical cornucopia of innovative, dangerous, and often scandalous music from musicians like Chuck Berry, Jimmy Reed, Lowell Fulson, Lightning Hopkins, Muddy Waters, Little Junior Parker, The Spaniels, Sonny Boy Williamson, Howling Wolf, and Etta James to name a few. It was on these late night sojourns across the Florida darkness that John “R”, WLAC’s late night disc jockey, offered-up the musical communion that would ultimately influence Talton the most as a songwriter—Rhythm and Blues.
After several years of wading through a sea of stale beer cups on fraternity house stages with We the People, and garnering only moderate recording success, Talton met another songwriting powerhouse in Florida by the name of Scott Boyer. Talton quickly decided that it was time to move on. Boyer and Talton eventually joined forces, moving to Jacksonville where they put together the band that would eventually become the Capricorn Records group, Cowboy.
Talton recalls that Cowboy received a little help on their way to a successful touring, and recording career from Boyer, and Talton’s old friend Duane Allman.
“On nothing more than Duane Allman’s recommendation, Phil Walden signed Cowboy to a contract, sight unseen,” said Talton, “I don’t know what Duane said to Phil Walden, but a week later we had management, publishing, and booking contracts in the mail. That’s how much influence Duane had with Phil Walden. I’d bet that had not happened to another band, before or since.”
Allman’s influence blanketed the southern music business in those days, carrying weight with almost everyone that he had contact with. Talton fondly remembers the subtle way in which Allman influenced his guitar playing—and he Allman’s.
“I loved Duane, but you know what? The thing that I learned from Duane was feeling. He always played with so much feeling, and emotion. We’d just sit down, just the two of us, at the old Capricorn Studio in Macon, and enjoy playing for each other for hours, and hours. There was never any jealousy or envy. We just liked to show each other things that we were working on.”
Red Dog, the Allman’s infamous roadie, recalls walking into the studio at Capricorn on more than one occasion, and seeing Allman and Talton in a little room off to the side, sitting in chairs facing each other, locked into a firestorm of hot licks and cool slippery fills.
“When I’d see Tommy and Duane in there playing, I’d know right away, no matter how much I wanted to go in and listen, that is where I shouldn’t be, because it was a private thing,” said Red Dog. Talton remembers those private moments with Duane Allman all too well.
“What we were doing was showing each other licks, and enjoying each others company as musicians.”
Talton had another very private moment in the Capricorn studios when Joni Mitchell happened to be down in Macon with James Taylor who was recording with his brother Alex, at the time. Joni started by picking up a guitar, and showing Talton a couple of her songs. Then he reciprocated by playing a couple of his songs for her.
“One of the songs I played for her was “Josephine Beyond Compare,” said Talton, “she got real quiet, and just sat there for what seemed like forever, looking very serious, and finally she asked me, “Would you please play that again?” You know, in my experience, you don’t run across that kind of interest very much when songwriters get together—they want to show you their own songs, and that’s it. It’s moments like those that no one knows about that are my fondest memories as a musician—moments like sitting around with Duane trading licks, or swapping songs with Joni Mitchell—those are priceless.”
While in Macon, Ga., through most of the 70s, Talton was a studio musician recording with artists such as Bonnie Bramlett, Billy Joe Shaver, Martin Mull, Corky Lang (West, Bruce and Lang, Mountain), Duane and Gregg Allman, Dickie Betts, Clarence Carter, country legend Kitty Wells, Alex and Livingston Taylor, Arthur Conley of “Sweet Soul Music” fame, Otis Redding’s 13 year old son (at the time), Dexter, and more. He toured extensively throughout the U.S. with Cowboy, and as special guests with Gregg Allman’s “Laid Back Tour,” from Carnegie Hall to the Fillmore West in San Francisco, and most cities in between.
During his time with Gregg Allman’s “Laid Back Tour,” Talton recalls some memorable shows that he played for an extraordinary promoter, and remarkable man that he eventually came to know well—Bill Graham.
“One night on the Gregg Allman Tour, we were onstage with our instruments waiting for Bill Graham to introduce us at the Fillmore West, and right across the bay in Oakland, Graham was also promoting a show with George Harrison. Graham came up behind me, on his way out to the microphone, patted me on the butt, and whispered in my ear, ‘Tommy, how does it feel? You guys just outdrew one of the Beatles?”
Talton remembers Graham as a wonderful promoter, and a warm person that didn’t take guff from the uppity bands that would eventually come into his venues to play. Talton and Graham often joked about the Prima Donna bands with contracts that demanded certain temperatures in the dressing rooms, or only Courvoisier Cognac, or Remy Martin to drink, or real silverware, and on, and on—ridiculous requests.
“Those were the kind of people that Bill Graham detested, and wouldn’t put up with,” said Talton.
Also, according to Talton, Graham detested unruly crowds that heckled the opening acts that he booked to the Fillmore’s stages. Talton remembers Graham stepping out on the stage, interrupting a Cowboy warm-up set at the Fillmore East, when hecklers started hollering, “Bring on the Allman Brothers.”
Graham heard the hecklers hollering at Cowboy twice, and then, to the amazement of the audience, between two songs he came to the microphone, short-fused, and made an announcement to the crowd.
“I work hard to bring high quality music in so that you can learn something—and enjoy yourselves, and hear something that is above average,” Graham started. “Anybody who thinks that what they are hearing here is substandard, can either shut-up or walk out right now, and I’ll give you all your money back, and you can hit the street.”
According to Talton, “About that time, someone on the front row mouthed off to Graham, and he jumped of the stage, and had the security guards pick-up the mouthy mushroomhead, and drag him up the isle, and toss him out on the street. That’s how strong his feelings were for ‘quality music’ as he put it.”
Around 1975 Talton joined forces with Johnny Sandlin, and Bill Stewart as Talton, Stewart and Sandlin, and released an album on Capricorn Records under that name. After leaving Capricorn, Talton lived, and toured in Europe throughout the 90s and formed a group there called “The Rebelizers” with members of Albert Lee’s band, “Hogan’s Heroes.” Talton returned to the U.S. a few years ago, settling in Marietta, GA, where he continues to write, record, and play. Talton also plays guitar and sings with the historic Capricorn Rhythm Section, which includes old friends and band mates, Boyer, Stewart, Sandlin and Paul Hornsby.
No filler, and no frills—the Tommy Talton Band struts emotional, gut-wrenching R&B, spiced with sophisticated jazz, adding just a pinch of unique folksy Americana. Talton pens the kind of emotional music that soars off the stage, ripping through the heart, reaching deep down, wrapping itself around the musical soul. He writes insightful, clever lyrics that invite the listener into Talton’s own mystical, moody, melodic world. Talton tugs at the heartstrings one moment with his lyrics, and then he hits the audience with a slide guitar driven one-two to the mind—all performed with sincerity, cleverness, intensity, and intelligence.
.By and large, it is as rare as horse feathers in a pillow to recommend musicians or artists with unbridled abandon. Typically, one person’s stack of musical CD treasure is another’s bathroom doorstop, making such recommendations, tenuous at best. In the case of Tommy Talton, however, there is almost no possible way to over-endorse him. Grab your hat, dust off your listening ears, and prepare to be impressed because you must—absolutely must—hear Tommy Talton!
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When Tommy Talton (singer guitarist whose slide was the heyday of the group Cowboy) released a new album, they rushed to listen without asking any questions. This cake contains its share of good titles and begins with "after-Until then", a title "Southern soul" groovy, brings us back to the heyday of Cowboy with a beautiful saturated organ solo and a delicate guitar solo. Apparently, Tommy Talton seems at his best."Real sugar" (tinted R & B soul, to medium and decorated with brass tempo) sends a wah wah guitar solo and electric piano. It should be noted also "Mr. Love" (a beautiful ballad in the spirit of the seventies reminiscent at times the "Dreams of ABB) and" Distant Light "(with a slow melodic saxophone and organ solo). For cons, I find two relatively title means: "I keep my mind on you" (which gives in and turns the exotic side of Mexico) and "Love U a little" (which sounds a bit "honky-tonk" and is especially true dobro).That everyone is reassured! The songs that follow are approaching perfection. Tommy Talton hits hard with "My, O My", a Southern ballad that carries us in the 70s with the touch inimitable slide guitar of Tommy. Another splendid melodic ballad with desire "She Was There" and its breakaway flute Marshall Tucker Band, superb chord mounted on the chorus, his acoustic solo skyscraper in executed agreements and beautiful piano intervention. On "The man from down near Waco," a song with country colorings, we are entitled to a super slide solo with Tommy Talton has the secret. It ends with "You got a friend," enjoying the game flawless Tommy who made a dazzling demonstration of slide guitar, turn to soft or sharp turn. When Tommy Talton released a new album, they rushed to listen without asking questions ... and we are not disappointed! A disc storage with those of JJ Cale, the old Ry Cooder and the Allman Brothers Band debut.