Talon – They Put the Fire Back in My Soul!!
Let’s go back to the mid to late 1990’s to start this review. You know, back when most of us true melodic hard rock fans went into a deep, dark hole having seen the music we love almost completely disappear off the face of our musical planet. This was a dry spell that went on for years. Was this what the great depression and prohibition felt like back in the 1930’s?
It was so bad and I was so desperate that I would plug the VHS tape into the machine and tape the entire MuchMoreMusic programming while I was at work. “MMM” was an offshoot of the MuchMusic channel here in Canada that was launched just to play videos. I would come home from work and fast forward through 8 hours of airplay just to find something evenly remotely close to the music I once loved.
Every time I found a song by a band that had promise, a band that wasn’t completely grunge, a band that had a bit of what I like in it – it was not to be. Bands such as Silverchair, Spacehog, Cry of Love, Moist, Blind Melon, Dishwalla and Savage Garden just to name a few were good in their own way, but they just didn’t seem to cut it for me long term. I was screaming in silence. Is anybody listening? Does anybody care?
I repeated that process day after day. Then one day along came this thing called the World Wide Web. Words such as “search engine”, “download” and “MP3” came along with it. Websites such as Melodicrock.com and Heavy Harmonies.com found their way into my life. Something is changing, something feels different. Is there light at the end of the rock and roll tunnel I wondered?
I soon realized that some of my favorite bands from the 70’s and 80’s were still churning out CD’s. Really? Still? My God, they must be ancient I thought, they couldn’t be any good – but they were. I came across bands that I was unfamiliar with but had amazing enduring catalogs – Bonfire, Pretty Maids, Pink Cream 69, Crown of Thorns, Von Groove etc.
But what was really fascinating to me was coming across “new” bands that were still attempting to carry the flame, still attempting to flee the zombies and keep the human race going! Do these guys have a death wish or what? Bands like Silver, Burning Rain, Shiva, Emerald Rain, Biloxi, Harlan Cage, Millennium, and Frontline were cranking out their best during this period. Where the hell was I?
In 2002, I came across this CD simply called Talon. Not to be confused with the 80’s German metal band of the same name – these guys hailed from the USA. Immediately it became an instant hit which got heavy rotation in my house and car with “Wrecking Ball” and “Fire in Your Soul” leading the way.
To quote from the classic movie Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid – “Who are those guys?”
Fast forward to 2015. I was ecstatic to learn Talon had a new CD hitting the stores. Despite some great Talon CD’s in between with two other amazing singers (Outloud’s Chandler Mogul and Line of Fire’s Shawn Pelata), this one had original singer Michael O’Mara back in the fold. Rounding out the group are long time members – Kory Voxen on lead, rhythm and acoustic guitars, Jim Kee on lead and rhythm guitars, Phil Keller on bass and John Parker on drums.
Talon – Fourplay
- “Spun” – a perfect opener with a great riff. Then Michael’s voice hits your ears. Talon is back! This has to be the first single. A new Talon CD and tickets for an upcoming show – my head has already “Spun”.
- “Sin City Sister” – this song just oozes with melodic-ness (is that even a word?) It contains all the ingredients – wait this has to be the first single.
- “Holly Would” – a nice heavy start with a great title too. With a killer chorus, this HAS to be the first single. I think you get the drift. I love it when every song competes to be the best one. Oh, this is getting good!
- “Set Me Free” – a perfect song to settle things down a bit for song 4. I have now been set free.
- “Tonight” – is this a ballad? Kind of but then a haunting beautiful vocal performance kicks in with some amazing guitar work from Jim.
- “It’s a Fine Line Between Love and Lust” – this song shows the fabulous background vocals that populate this album. Again some wicked guitar throughout.
- “Evil” – a real heavy first-rate rocker with a killer chorus. I bet after a couple listens you won’t be able to spin this song without singing it out loud “Evil, Evil”!
- “I Don’t Wanna Cry” – This song truly bleeds what I call the perfect melodic song. Another singalong chorus with nice vocals all round.
- “Love is Like a Drug to Me” – almost a quote from Roxy Music but done the Talon way. Heck, this CD is like a drug to me – I’m addicted! Help me!
- “Raise ‘Em High” – the salute, the anthem of the CD, what more can I say? Fantastic!
- “Hole in My Head” – wait is this 2002? Pure old school Talon that could fit right beside “Talon in My Heart” on the first album.
- “There Ain’t Nothin’ in the World Like a Rockin’ Band” – what starts out as an acoustic bluesy type song quickly turns into a fun catchy little rocker! Despite coming in under the three-minute mark, it’s a cool way to end a stellar CD. Well done boys!
Summary – Fourplay is a definite contender for my album of the year (stay tuned to see where it lands at year end). A solid, solid CD that really gives meaning to the word “melodic”. 12 songs that in my mind contain absolutely no filler just killer! It’s hard to review an album when every song is just about perfect. You find yourself running out of adjectives and positive descriptions. Man, I love CD’s like this.
Not to be forgotten in the praise would be Bombay Black’s Ty Sims who produced this gem and, believe me, the production is top notch.
2015 wasn’t finished for me when it came to Talon. Decibel Geekers and all round rock fans Shawn “Animalize” Irwin, Rich “The Meister” Dillon and I decided to venture south of the border to a festival called Rock ‘N Skull. Our complete review can be seen here: The Story of Rock n’ Skull Day #2-Saturday October 17, 2015
A couple weeks before departure I got some disturbing news that singer Michael O’Mara would not be making the trip as he was called upon to fill some big shoes in Tracii Guns new project –Gunzo. Great for him, bad for me! Michael‘s back in the band, a fabulous new CD and my chance to finally see them live has hit a wall. Oh well, what can you do? Talon’s time slot on the Saturday was 1:00 PM – second on the bill. After a late night, I made sure we got ourselves there on time and parked our butts right up front by the stage. Immediately into the first song substitute singer Kyle Frost made us forget he wasn’t an original. Although meeting some band mates on stage for the first time and reading the lyrics on a cheat sheet, he was flawless and a fabulous frontman. They ripped through 10 of their best including 5 from their new CD which was played in our 12-hour car ride both to and from the festival.
They rounded out their set with the classic “Wrecking Ball”. Finally, I thought to myself! Although my high hopes of hearing “Fire in Your Soul” were dashed, it still was an incredible, high energy set that I won’t soon forget. Can we leave now? Oh, wait there is still 8 or 9 more bands to follow. Great job guys!! Video and photo galleries appear below, enjoy!
Setlist at Rock ‘N Skull Pekin Illinois Saturday, October 17th. 2015
- Sin City Sister
- What About Me
- Holly Would
- Set Me Free
- Baby Jane
- Raise ‘Em High
- Talon in My Heart
- Wrecking Ball
Meanwhile back in 2002 when I was still living in my musical isolation, I finally knew there was hope – even if it were small unknown bands like Talon. In my own mind, I put these guys and guys like them high on a pedestal and treated them as icons in a way. Years later I can finally answer the Butch Cassidy question – “Who are those guys?” They are down to earth average day job working guys that love rock and roll and just want to contribute in their own small way to keep the spirit alive. I appreciate that – especially coming from the guys that put the fire back in my soul when the flame had long been burnt out.
“Til the next time that we meet, let’s raise ‘em high!”