As a 16 year-old boy I really found myself diving head first into the exploratory sounds of the 1970’s rock scene. While I was still listening to the music of the day, something inside of me found that the sounds of the 70s far more compelling than just the speed of a solo or the pitch of a voice. No, it was more about the soul of the music that really drew me into wanting to learn how to re-create a lot of those songs on the guitar.
Around the same time, I discovered Jimmy Page using a wah-wah pedal on Zeppelin’s “Dazed and Confused”. This prompted me to go out and pick up the Dunlop Crybaby wah pedal along with a litany of other guitar effects just so I could like a legend in my own mind. By the time I had experimented with every foot pedal I could get my hands on, there was one particular pedal that I knew I had to get! The only pedal that could make me sound exactly like Jerry Cantrell, Peter Frampton, and Joe Walsh.
The Talkbox has been used on a number of recordings from the Scorpion’s “The Zoo” to Tu Pac’s “California Love”. The sound was probably more popularized on Peter Frampton’s Frampton Comes Alive album as the Talkbox became his signature sound for the era. In recent times, we don’t hear the Talkbox in recordings other than being sonic accents that colorize a song. It’s rare that you hear it as the recognizable piece of the song in any of today’s music. If you do, it’s not as noticeable because most of the music today lacks ingenuity and effort.
This last Friday, I happened upon a Twitter post from Godsmack announcing the release of a cover song that will be on their upcoming “Live and Inspired” album. The announcement of the song said three things to me:
I can’t believe they’re covering Joe Walsh’s “Rocky Mountain Way”. <==Listen here
This song has a Talkbox. I hope they stay true to the original recording.
I bet we get to hear it U-Fest 2012 in a couple of weeks.
Godsmack unveil HEAVY rendition of "Rocky Mountain Way", 1st of 4 covers from "Live & Inspired" fb.me/1nDgXQSll
— Godsmack Official (@Godsmack_Music) April 7, 2012
First of all, I can’t tell you how appreciative I am of Godsmack to cover another song from the era that I learned most of my guitar chops from. Secondly, I was equally thrilled that they made the song sound like “Godsmack” but stayed true to the original recording by including the guitar slide and Talkbox.
OK, so I’m somewhat of a nerd when it comes to my guitar gadgets, but I think it’s important to notice these things as they shaped me into who I am today. I just know this: those songs are more memorable to me knowing that a musician sat in a studio with a tube stuck in his mouth probably blowing out his fillings just so he could make a timeless song. That is what is cool to me.
What other songs do you know of that feature a Talkbox (not wah-wah)?
Here are a few songs that you probably didn't realize featured a Talkbox:
GnR covering Nazareth
Is there anything Dave Grohl can't do?
One of the first songs that introduced me to the Talkbox.
I love the gritty sound the opening riff has with this Talkbox.
Joe Walsh's original version of "Rocky Mountain Way"
Click on Sully to hear Godsmack's version