If That Ain’t Country June 27, 2019 (Tony Booth – The Key’s In The Mailbox)

With Jay Dee Maness on steel and Jerry Wiggins on drums, the thundering honky tonk vocal of Tony Booth puts it's own stamp on the Bakersfield Sound. A stamp which, to this reviewer's ears, recalls the dancehalls of Texas on a hard country Capitol debut which has your toe tapping from woe to go.

Tony Booth - The Key's In The Mailbox (Cover LP)
Tony Booth - The Key's In The Mailbox (Cover LP)

Tony Booth – The Key’s In The Mailbox

In this episode, we’re featuring the first Capitol LP for the booming baritone of Tony Booth: “The Key’s In The Mailbox” (1972). Born in Florida, Booth relocated to New Mexico and even though his step-father was a steel guitarist, being a musician was not initially the intention for Tony Booth. Eyeing a career as a music teacher, once Booth got wind of the pay scale, he jokes, the life of an entertainer seemed a little more appealing. After graduating from venues in New Mexico to the Vegas circuit, Booth began playing California clubs with some regularity and in the late 60s/early 70s, The Tony Booth Band became the house band for the legendary Palomino Club in North Hollywood. Testament to his popularity were two wins as “Best Non-Touring Band” in 1970 and 1971 as well as “Most Promising Male Vocalist” in 1971 at the Academy Of Country Music Awards. A friendship with Buck Owens developed and with this first Capitol release, Booth stamps his own style on the Bakersfield Sound – which to this reviewer’s ears, owes an awful lot to the dancehalls of Texas. After his Capitol days were through, Booth toured as bassist for a dozen years with Gene Watson’s Farewell Party Band and was talked into performing again in 2006 by Heart Of Texas Records bossman Tracy Pitcox – and at the time of writing, Tony Booth was still going strong. This 1972 Capitol debut holds some true honky tonk gems from Booth at the top of his game: but rather than single out individual highlights, it might just be easier to say there aren’t many duds on this stellar album, which has your toe tapping from woe to go.