This will be a flashback for the few who remember Tommy Talton but it shouldn't be because Talton has never stopped. Talton started in bands in the sixties including the legendary We the People, one of Florida's entries into the sixties' rock sweepstakes. WTP had a good run which resulted in a number of singles and a few regional hits but they couldn't seem to break out nationally in spite of major label deals. Cowboy was next and even had the backing of Macon, Georgia's Capricorn Records and The Allman Brotrhers Band themselves, but again—no gold ring. After the implosion of Boyer & Talton, a later-day version of Cowboy, Talton put in journeyman's hours with his own bands until finally heading to Europe for a short run. A handful of years and an album later, he returned to the States, taking up with old friends and colleagues which resulted in Until After Then.
You think you don't know Talton? You might. He was founding member of Cowboy, one of the earliest Capricorn Records bands, brought to the label by the Allmans themselves. When not working with Cowboy, he was an integral member of The Capricorn Rhythm Section, the studio band which backed such artists as Alex Taylor, Bonnie Bramlett and even Gregg Allman on various solo projects. The haunting slide guitar on Gregg Allman's slinky version of Midnight Rider? Tommy Talton. Lead guitarist on Gregg's tour back in '73/'74? Tommy Talton. Guy who carried the Cowboy name past the original lineup? Well, that wasn't just Talton, Scott Boyer comprising the "other half" of the band. By that time, though, they really weren't Cowboy. They were Boyer & Talton. Still great at what they did. Just not Cowboy.
I met Tommy once. It was '74 or so and the Gregg Allman tour had just reached L.A. where I was working at a Licorice Pizza record store. One day, a big limo pulled up in front of the store and a bunch of guys hopped out and came in. Chuck Leavell was there and David Brown and Bill Stewart. Tommy was there too but he would show up a bit later, running across the street clutching a satin or silk jacket with stitching on it—a dragon and some trees or something—already proud of a great new find. I stood off to the side and watched as the other guys hit up the people who worked at the store and a number of customers, they pretty excited to be somewhere other than a hotel room, the customers excited to be in the presence, if you will. Leavell came over and talked with me. So did Stewart and Brown. Not Tommy. He wasn't talking to anyone unless it was about that jacket. I have to admit, it was pretty sweet. He wore it on the cover of the Talton, Stewart & Sandlin Happy To be Alive album. Like I said, it was sweet.
I could tell you some things about Tommy. I could tell you some things about Cowboy, having been a fan since '71 and having interviewed all of the members of the original band. But I won't. I will tell you that while others are losing their voices and their chops to age, Tommy has remained the same, that trademark guitar backing a voice which could have been recorded in the mid-70s. That trademark guitar. And like that jacket, the voice is sweet too.
The voice is a focal point on the new album, titled Until After Then. Only one, though. Talton put together a crack band for this project so performance is also key. And the songs, which are straight out of Talton's wheelhouse. And the production. Come to think of it, there are a whole lot focal points. Like the remake of You've Got a Friend which originally appeared on the aforementioned TS&S album. Talton toned it down a bit here, leaning more toward the acoustic, but it's the same outstanding song it was only better. There is something almost soothing in the approach taken, lighter and more sparse with vocals more upfront. Talton reaches back to the sixties and pop/psych for the sound and feel of Mr. Love, a song straight out of the old L.A. psych scene but with a side of Sgt. Pepper for good measure. The title track is a choogling light blues-rocker in typical Talton-fashion (Matt Slocum adds some pretty cool organ, too), The Man From, Down Near Waco has a slight country bent, and Surfin' the Levee, the so-called bonus track, is—what the hell is it? An aborted attempt at a real song turned raw instrumental? I'm not sure, but I dig it.
I dig the whole album, actually. Of course, you might not want to take my word for it. I've been listening to Tommy Talton for years and glad to have another album in my collection. Very glad. Downright happy, if you want to know. Damn happy. Talton lives!
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2015, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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