CD Review – Tommy Talton “Let’s Get Outta Here”
While following the path of Duane Allman’s early recordings, Talton, and his band Cowboy were some of my earliest discoveries. Talton’s music has constantly graced my turntable, 8-track player, cassette deck, or CD player since. As a fan from day one, the collective respect already given “Let’s Get Outta Here” only confirms my earliest conviction.
Great music should take the listener far away from everyday life. This album undeniably does that. The CD opens with the title track, Let’s Get Outta Here, and whisks the listener down I-26 in this catchy, horn-driven, foot-tapping, breezy nod to Carolina’s Beach Music scene. Talton’s solid rhythm and blues roots shine here, and long-time friend Kelvin Holly steps out on lead guitar. You Can’t Argue With Love was co-written with Rick Hirsh of Wet Willie fame, and is the only track on this album not written wholly by Talton. This track lures the listener across the Atlantic to meet England’s Royal Family, and showcases Talton’s soaring slide guitar, and formidable vocals. The arrangement, and thickness of the production here is reminiscent of Phil Spector’s Wall of Sound recordings.
The next track, Dream Last Night, is meditative proof of Talton’s ability to wrap the listener in a warm blanket of notes, and coax them to follow him wherever he chooses to go. Stern warning and disclosure here: Don’t close your eyes during this track, because you could just wake-up anywhere…or nowhere at all. Talton’s trademark slide guitar and Rick Hirsch’s ethereal guitar coexist like smoke rings on a windless day.
Make it Through the Rain brings lifelong friend and Cowboy band mate, Scott Boyer, onboard to sing harmony vocals for the first of several tracks. This heartfelt ballad showcases the delicacy of Talton’s songwriting, and the gracefulness of his acoustic guitar styling. This track is a fall day stroll down a leaf covered country road in the mountains of North Carolina. The listener can almost hear rain dripping from the eaves in this subtle masterpiece.
Slacabamorinico is a real-life story (Google Slacabamorinico if you don’t believe me), set to a rollicking New Orleans, Second Line, horn, bass, and piano driven parade march. This track dances the listener through the streets of NOLA, and eventually on through the streets of Mobile, AL. Talton is joined again by Boyer on vocals, as well as an array of former band mates and friends, including Allman Brothers and Rolling Stones keyboardist Chuck Leavell, and human metronome, Bill Stewart (drums). The horn section here including Chad Fisher (trombone), Shane Porter (trumpet), and Brad Guin (saxaphone), amply challenge Leavell’s finessing barrelhouse piano. This track also includes the nastiest, funky four-note guitar lick since Blackhearted Woman.
Where is the World reaches out to blues, and rock fans, but also exudes an edgy, mindful folk, and Americana vibe. Talton is joined by old friends, Kelvin Holly (rhythm guitar), Paul Hornsby (organ), Bill Stewart (drums), Brandon Peeples (bass), and Chuck Leavell (piano), making this track musically pristine. Recent Rain again finds Talton tugging at the listeners heart lyrically, and with notes that cry cinematic with this gut-wrenching ballad about a great love found, and lost. Talton, the master of moods, consoles that all of this heartache shall wash away, just like the Recent Rain.
The classic, electric slide driven Sunk Down in Mississippi sweeps the listener down the big muddy to the Mississippi line. Here he chronicles Robert Johnson’s fatal, true-life story, explaining that it really was not the poison, or pneumonia that killed Johnson; it was the woman that turned his head. Talton electrifies six strings in a musical tornado that testifies to some of Johnson’s, and Talton’s, finest emotionally gritty guitar work.
If Your Attitude is Funky (nobody wants your monkey) is Talton’s adaptation of the old tavern anecdote that begins, “Sure she’s gorgeous, but you can bet your last dollar that somewhere there is a guy that is glad she’s gone.” Talton tells this story with a conviction born of perspective.
Half of What She Is introduces the listener to Talton’s boyhood home of Winter Park, Florida. This track is obviously a love song written for, and about Talton’s mother, Julie Talton. The song fades into history with a recording that Talton unearthed, after his mother’s passing, of her talking about his father; explaining how much she loved him, and how happy they were. Simply breathtaking.
Coil Talton up tightly, and watch what happens as he concludes the album with Give a Little Bit…a tribute to old friend, Levon Helm, who originally covered this funk masterpiece. Talton’s wah-wah slide and Tony Giordano’s bending, twisting keyboards intertwine on this track that features the rest of the original Tommy Talton Band; Brandon Peeples, bass, and David Keith on percussion. This track is the only cut not recorded by David Keith. It was laid down at Studio 1093 in Athens, GA by former Capricorn wizard, Jim Hawkins.
What is it they say? If you stay in the public eye long enough the truth is revealed. “Let’s Get Outta Here” reveals volumes about Tommy Talton; as a man, a musician, and as a writer. If you are looking for a dose of nostalgia, look elsewhere. Talton is a survivor…an exception to the rule.
“Let’s Get Outta Here” is available at Hittin’ the Note Records.