Toy Caldwell
" Son of The South "
Blue Hat Records

Blueswax 8
Rating 8

A More Personal View of Toy Caldwell, (01/21/10)

Toy Caldwell was a mountain of a man who had tremendous on-stage powers. If you had the good fortune of seeing Toy's commanding vocals and his fiery guitar work, you'd know exactly what I am talking about. Now, thanks to Charlie Daniels and Blue Hat Records, Caldwell's only studio recording (originally issued on the Cabin Fever label in '92) is back in print, and it's a gem.
High speed antics ensue on the opening "I Hear the South Calling Me." Toy's guitar storms in ripping hot, and his full throttled vocals make this tune sizzle from beginning to end. Things slow down on Caldwell's beautifully reworked ballad "Midnight Promises" where Gregg Allman sits-in on B-3 and adds an emotional vocal chorus when Toy jumps back in to trade off singing with brother Gregg. The funky "Love Turn Mean" adds a chunk of the Memphis Horns and shifts (to and fro) from funk to a scatting vamp. From the MTB songbook we also get "Fly Eagle Fly" and a smartly rearranged "This Old Cowboy" with the Memphis Horns back on board adding a hint of Mexican tinge for Toy to wail over.
Willie Nelson's "Night Life" is so sweet with Nelson's cameo vocal appearance. Caldwell's "Trouble in Dixie" is another barnburner that smokes like a fine Cohiba with additional fireworks from Charlie Daniels' fiddle. Triple-threat Caldwell shows his fine songwriting throughout, and I would be remiss to not mention the jazzy "Mexico," and the gorgeous tearjerker "Why Am I Crying."
Topping things off there's a previously unreleased "Can't You See" with Toy sitting in with the Charlie Daniels Band which perfectly closes this fine reissue. Speaking of Mr. Daniels, be sure to take a moment to read his "Ode to A Friend" liner notes that were written in '93, they are straight from his heart.
Toy Caldwell left us in '93, there's a lot of MTB stuff to sample, but "Son of the South" provides a more personal glimpse of Toy that I thoroughly enjoyed. By the way, the recently departed James Luther Dickinson produced "Son of the South."
Special thanks to Toy's widow, Abbie Caldwell for mailing me a copy of this disc.

Bob Putignano: