Gritz Magazine

Southern Rock Album of the Week:
Capricorn Rhythm Section
Posted: January 24, 2007

It's no secret that I am a huge fan of the old Capricorn Records catalog. Everything from The Allman Brothers Band to Marshall Tucker, Wet Willie, Bonnie Bramlett, Cowboy, Eddie Hinton, Dickey Betts and all the rest. No small wonder I became excited when I first got wind of a reunion of the Capricorn Rhythm Section, the players who performed on so many of those great old records. Not only did they play, they wrote many of the songs and produced them.

Before Capricorn Records was even founded, the genre that would become Southern Rock was beginning to form in bands like The Hour Glass, Gregg and Duane Allman's pre-Brothers band which also included Johnny Sandlin and Paul Hornsby, now two members of the reunited CRS.

When Phil Walden formed Capricorn Records, Duane Allman was living in Muscle Shoals, Alabama doing session work where he was discovered by Jerry Wexler. Wexler turned Phil Walden onto the man Wilson Pickett called "Sky Man" and Walden immediately signed Duane to his new record label.

Phil envisioned a rhythm section for Capricorn in the image of Stax and Muscle Shoals Sound. Duane recommended his friends Johnny Sandlin and Paul Hornsby to put the band together while Allman, along with others in the newly formed Allman Brothers Band became "unofficial" members of the rhythm section.

By 1970, Johnny Sandlin was producing and heading up Capricorn Records' A&R department. Bill Stewart, the first drummer for Wet Willie, was asked by Sandlin to take his place on drums. Around the time Hornsby began devoting most of his time to producing (including production of most of the original Marshall Tucker records), Scott Boyer and Tommy Talton, members of the Capricorn act Cowboy, joined the rhythm section. For the remainder of the time at Capricorn Records, the Capricorn Rhythm Section became a blend of current and past members, The Allman Brothers Band and other label acts, everyone playing whenever and wherever needed.

Today's Capricorn Rhythm Section includes Scott Boyer, Tommy Talton, Bill Stewart, Paul Hornsby and Johnny Sandlin, along with guitar great Lee Roy Parnell.

Alive at 2nd Street Music Hall was recorded in Gadsen, Alabama and the set rocks from one end to the other, beginning with Tommy Talton's "Time Will Take Us," one of the two Cowboy tracks that appeared on the classic live album The Gregg Allman Tour. The other Cowboy track from that record, "Where You Go," is also performed here by the CRS.

Scott Boyer's "All My Friends," originally recorded by Gregg Allman, sounds great here as does the funny and funky Donnie Fritts/Eddie Hinton tune, "300 Pounds of Hungry."

The CRS break out the old Eddie Hinton tune "Where You Come From" (recorded on Capricorn Records by Bonnie Bramlett) and rip it up on the Gary Nicholson/Dan Penn tune "Ought to Be a Law."

There is a sweet sounding take on Eddie Hinton's beautiful "Everybody Needs Love" and a full-tilt cover of Otis Redding's "Shout Bamalama."

I have to admit, though, my favorite track of all is the Scott Boyer-penned "Please Be With Me," a song I first heard on an old Duane Allman Anthology 8-track tape and have loved ever since.

Live at 2nd Street Music Hall is a true gem, released on Rockin' Camel Records. It's a must have for any Southern rocker and one of the coolest CDs to cross my desk in quite some time. Excellent.