Troy, Mattacks, and Brown: Live At Captain Carlo’s In Gloucester, MA

By Bill Copeland

A trio of rock music veterans like John Troy, Dave Mattacks, and David Brown should make a live recording of every one of their shows. I know that isn’t financially feasible. But these guys play so well that each show becomes a memorable occasion for everyone in attendance.

Because they’re highly skilled musicians, they can play each song a wee bit differently from the last time they played it. "Live At Captain Carlo’s" captures the trio in their natural habitat: inside an upscale club in front of appreciative fans. Enthusiastic patrons at the Gloucester, Massachusetts nightspot helped energize these players.

An easy going, loosey goosey feeling follows each track, showcasing the band’s control over the songs’ direction, dynamics, and solos. Bass player Troy cut his teeth recording and performing with The Pousette--Dart Band and he has also performed with Joe Cocker and Bonnie Rait. David Brown was Billy Joel’s guitarist for 12 years. If those credentials don’t wow you, drummer Mattacks supplied the back beat for six Paul McCartney albums.

There is a reason why musicians get to work with such big name luminaries: they know their stuff. Opening with Troy-Browns’ "Ready To Rock," the trio set the evening’s pace with Troy’s bluesy vocal traveling over this rootsie rockin’ shuffle. A groovin’ chord and subtle rhythms make this song fun.

Troy and his boys are well versed in 1950s rock and roll and the roots of all American music. "Boomer’s Story" has an under current of rockabilly in Brown’s sensitive guitar leads, and "Hey Baby" makes the most of a fifties style rhythm section which stops at the right moment for Troy to sing his chorus. And again, the finer touches of Brown’s brittle guitar leads gives the number an edginess that didn’t exist in older recordings of this standard.

Brown gets his mojo going on his self-penned number "Hollywood Hunter." Its intro features a lot of funky guitar riffs before the guitarist more aggressively charges forward with a flow of rugged notes. It is also amusing to hear Brown rattle off his litany of complaints about a shallow woman in Tinsletown.

Troy puts his plaintive vocal to good use on "When You Turned Out The Light," a tale of one last night with someone who has decided to leave him. This ballad moves forward on Troy’s graceful bass playing while his singing voice never lets you forget the sad timbre of his tune.

"Find Someone" keeps us focused on Troy’s sweet voice and Brown’s emotive guitar notes. Only this tune has a peppy mid tempo feel that lets vocal and guitar bop along at a pleasant pace. These guys are definitely from the classic rock era, since they extend a few of their songs well past the five minute mark to offer some freeform jamming. And "Find Someone" gives us another fine workout from these boys who know who to make their instruments dance and sing and come to life with sheer virtuosity. They do a lot of this in Brown’s nine minute-plus instrumental "David’s Cha Cha."

They have to be good to keep a nightclub crowd focused on their trio for an extended jam. Don’t get me wrong here. These guys are not showing off with flashy solos to impress people. They’re just plain good. You’ll hear in their music a genuine love for their music and a regard for their audience and you can also feel how much they love sharing their passion for music. The audience response here also speaks for itself.

Their standards are like a who’s who in the history of popular American songwriters. Tunes by Otis Redding, Jerry Leiber, and Johnny Cash adorn the end of the set. Troy reaches the soul inside of Redding’s old tune "Dreams To Remember" and the trio captures the hillbilly energy of Cash’s "Get Rhythm" before they launch into their own closing arrangement of "Goodnight Irene," complete with Troy adding his plaintive vocal and the trio putting more musical nuances into this traditional American folk song..