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Live Notes From Athens

by: The Tommy Talton Band

Album Artwork

(Hittin’ The Note)

The Tommy Talton Band kick it up yet another notch on this, their sophomore release, recorded live in Athens, Georgia in 2008. The show was held at The Melting Point, a beautiful listening room in Athens. Besides the guitar man himself, the band on the live album consists of Tong Giordano on keyboards, Brandon Peeples on bass and Chad Jackson on the drums.

I have been listening to many of these songs for a few years now, thanks in part to my attendance at several TTB shows, and also thanks to being friends with Talton, who kindly shared MP3s with me over time. The fact is, I have yet to hear a bad Talton track. Seriously.

Live Notes is a different kind of live record. Don’t expect to hear the screams of the audience. I’m sure there were many, but with today’s technology, we get the music, played live, without all the noise. Pretty groovy.

Talton comes out of the chute kickin’ hard with “Deal with the Deal,” before serenading the crowd with an instrumental “My Baby Don’t Shave,” usually subtitled when he plays it live, “and she likes to misbehave.” Yeah baby. I get it. The song really shows off the skills of the whole band, with Tony G. throwing down all over the keyboards, and Tommy ripping it up on the Les Paul.

“Getaway Cars” is next. One of my very favorites. I still remember the first time I ever heard it. Jill and I were high-tailing it through Atlanta on the way to Alabama and it rolled up on the iPod. A perfect song to carry you through Atlanta traffic. Just crank it up and ignore the 18-wheelers on either side of you that are closer to you than your mother.

The album just gets better and better, with “Baby I’m On Your Side," another favorite.  I need to say right here that many of the songs here segue one into the other by way of spacy jams reminiscent of the best Allman Brothers ethereal deluge of loose jams. I love that.

“Time Will Never Change” is another brilliant pop song. I could hear it every day and never get tired of it. A beautiful love song lyric wrapped in a memorable melody.

Allen Toussaint’s “On Your Way Down” is given the full TTB treatment, and does it ever sound great. A real crowd pleaser in their shows, the song features some heartfelt, emotional guitar from Talton and a solo that would make Derek Trucks blush.

“Things” is yet another Talton goodie, and then comes “We Were Flyin,” my new favorite Talton track. I had never heard this one before, and was blown out of the water. Well, I wasn’t actually in the water. If I had been, I would have been looking for mermaids and missed the song, so I’m glad I was in my office listening to this CD instead. The sirens will have to wait I suppose. Just an excellent song, reminiscent of Dylan in places, with a Tom Petty sounding chorus. I love it.

The old Cowboy fan in me came out next as TTB deliver an apt cover of his Cowboy track, “River to the Sea.” Still an old favorite.

Another of my Talton Top Five comes next, the decidedly Van Morrison influenced “Color My Sleep.” Oh yeah. You’re gonna love this one fellow babies.

One of Tommy’s favorite bands was Buffalo Springfield, so it is only fitting that he covers “For What it’s Worth,” with guest vocalist Caroline Aiken. Just don’t look for it to be a straight up cover. The TTB take it to a new place, but it still has the important lyrical message, one that is just as important in 2009 as it was in 1969. It is, after all, the Age of Aquarius, y’all.

The show closes with another Cowboy tune. Yeah! My favorite Cowboy song (besides “Tumbling Tumble Weeds”, but that’s a different kind of cowboy, ya know) “Time Will Take Us.” Same one he sang on that great old Gregg Allman On Tour ‘74 album.

It’s an amazing, melodic, guitar drenched, beautiful, timely, Southern smoked record. A real keeper. The second coming of Tommy Talton, a guy who sounds better than ever.

-Michael Buffalo Smith


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