fATTENED uP fOR THE kILL
You remember Scott Boyer, don't you? The mellow half of Boyer & Talton and key Cowboy conspirator? Okay, the guy who wrote Please Be With Me, a song Eric Clapton took to the bank in the mid-70s (I wish I had a nickel for every time I played the original Cowboy version and someone said, hey, isn't that an Eric Clapton song?). Well, It turns out ol' Scott is still around and still cranking out music and for those of us who revered Cowboy, that is good news.
The thing is, Scott never stopped. After the original Cowboy lineup went separate ways, Scott stayed with Capricorn Records, backing many of the acts in the studio between the occasional Cowboy/Boyer & Talton reformations. And when Capricorn crumbled, he plugged his guitar in whichever amp was electrified, most notably with the Convertibles and the hard working and always employed Locust Fork Band. And, of course, the Decoys.
If you've not heard of the Decoys, you're obviously not from the South. Some of the best musicians living there have passed through or sat in with them including Johnny Sandlin, Kelvin Holly, N.C. Thurman, David Brown and Randall Bramlett, to name only a few. Most recently (2005) they released a cd titled Shot From the Saddle on the rejuvenated Muscle Shoals label, but few know that they had a record out in 1991. Even fewer know that it is still available. That's right. A handful of Scott's (with the Decoys) All My Friends CDs have fallen into the hands of the fine folks at CDbaby and are at this very moment aching to reacquaint old fans with Scott's music. Maybe make a few new fans as well.
Few Cowboy fans will recognize the Boyer contained within, though. Cowboy's Scott Boyer relied upon his folk and country roots for inspiration and while that worked then, this is now. Years of playing bars and honky tonks have taken him in new directions, most notably through the world of blues and R&B. The first track confirms it as Scott's now gravelly and more travelled voice (the result of a couple decades of cigarettes and whiskey, I'm betting) busts into a smokin' bar boogie original, “The Sooner That I'm Dead”, bolstered by walking bass, piano and organ as well as brass. With a nod to a failed marriage (Scott called these the Trauma Sessions), he wails “The sooner that I'm dead/The better off we'll both be/The sooner that I'm six feet under/The sooner you'll be free/'Cause I don't want to live without you/And you don't want to live with me”. Therapy for the heartbroken in the key of bar boogie. “All My Friends” is next, a nod to the past along with a remake of the classic “Please Be With Me” later on the CD. Both basically the same songs as earlier versions, they are given new treatment by the more mature Boyer. More soulful, if you will.
Boyer reaches into the church a bit with the upbeat “My Love Will Follow”, a hand-clapper for sure, and though his voice strains a bit, it actually adds to the effect. “I Won't Give Up” has a solid Grayson Hugh groove and I don't care what anyone says, Hugh put out a couple of great albums in the '80s with soulful Sam Cooke harmonies and light R&B touch. Boyer does the same here. Traditional country is next, an acoustic back porch track arranged by Boyer called “Born In the Country”, elevated by Topper Price's always great harmonica.
Slow syncopated rhythm drives “Fatten Me Up For the Kill”, a track that James Montgomery or the Nighthawks could have played during their runs at the top. Bluesy, sultry, it allows Price to show his worth. The New Orleans style “I Ain't Got Nobody To Love” works very well (so does the brass) and “Honeysuckle On the Vine” is vampish in its lounginess.
Probably my favorite, though, is the upbeat rocker, “Papa Come Quick”, which would make me laugh every time but for the great shuffling rhythms and slide guitar. I mean, “What we gonna do now that Jody is gone” pretty much sums it up when some guys don't have a woman around to do their laundry and cook their food. Great track.
When Scott was approached to do this, he said he would record, but only with the Decoys, so essentially this is a Decoys album. Maybe Scott wrote most of the songs and maybe he sings them, but without the band, it would sound waaaay different. During this period, they were one smokin' band. And they brought in some of the best to help out. Topper Price, of course, and there is stellar work from Randall Bramlett (as always) and Chuck Leavell, who plays some really fine piano on “The Sooner That I'm Dead”. I mean, really fine. Did I mention Kelvin Holly? Wow!
Once again, this isn't
Cowboy, but in this case, it is a good thing. Scott Boyer got a
chance to lay down where he was at the time this was recorded (again,
1991) and that will be good enough for those of us who have followed
him over the years. And what the hey? CDbaby has samples available
for listening, so check it out. It's a hell of a deal and these days, you can't beat that with a stick.
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More Gems From Rock's Past:
SCOTT BOYER/Talks About the Capricorn Rhythm Section
CARGOE/From Tulsa to Memphis
CHRISTIAN ROCK/The Early Years
NOTARY SOJAC/A '70s Pacific Northwest Rock Legend
WHITE ELEPHANT/Jazz Had Hippies, Too!!!
STEVE YOUNG/Rock Alt. & Nails
Finds of the Future, Today:
CAPRICORN RHYTHM SECTION/Alive at 2nd Street Music Hall
GABRIELLE GEWIRTZ/Great Music, Wonderful Voice
GILEAH/Chaos of Love, Fury of Life (Breathtaking)
THE GRIP WEEDS/Updated '60s-style psych/pop of the best variety... a great album!
(Perry Jordan &) HEARTSFIELD/Guitars a-Blazin' Country Rock!!
GREG LASWELL/Taking One For the Cause
JENN LINDSAY/This Is Your Brain On Power Pop
MAGGI, PIERCE & E.J./Dog Bites Band! (Phenomenal!!)
AUDREY MARTELL/Great Pop, New Jersey Style!
BILL PILLMORE/Cowboy Returns to the Saddle
JESS PILLMORE/Dancing On the Edge
EMILY WELLS/The Reason Yaks Laugh (Awe-inspiring!)
STEVE YOUNG/Songlines--- A Fortuitous Return to the Past
More indies and rock history here.