James Talley

Journey

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James Talley is something of a contradiction, simultaneously refusing to water down his music for mainstream country while making a living selling real estate to the highest bidder. All a listener of Journey or other recent Talley albums needs to worry about, however, is the musical side of the equation. While Journey sounds like a career overview, it isn't. Talley's early albums on Capitol remain out of print. Journey, then, is the next best thing, a live album that features mostly old and a few brand new songs. The album was recorded on a tour in Italy, and Talley's joined by a crack band made up of Mike Noble, Dave Pomeroy, and Greg Thomas. The opener, "W. Lee O'Daniel and the Light Crust Dough Boys," dates back to Talley's first album, Got No Bread, No Milk, No Money, But We Sure Got Love, from 1975. Others -- "Tryin' Like the Devil" and the moody "Sometimes I Think About Suzanne" -- are drawn from 1976's Tryin' Like the Devil, and a couple of real jewels -- "Bluesman" and "Up from Georgia" -- are pulled from Blackjack Choir in 1977. Talley remains a fine vocalist, and the band is so tight that it's easy to forget that Journey is a live album. The new songs -- like "The Song of Chief Joseph" and "My Cherokee Maiden" -- also blend well with the classic material. Although Journey could never take the place of the earlier Capitol albums, it at least makes the material available to those unfamiliar with Talley's 30 years of fine work.

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