Michael Rabon & Choctaw

Band members                             Related acts

  line up 1 (1972) as Michael Rabon & Choctaw

- Randy Fouts -- keyboards

- Jerry McDonald -- bass 

- Michael Rabon (RIP 2022) -- vocals, guitar 

- Jim Wright -- drums, percussion


  line up 2 (1975) as Michael Rabon

- Jim Grant -- bass

- Dahrell North -- drums, percussion

- Michael Rabon (RIP 2022) -- vocals, lead guitar

- Larry White -- pedal teel guitar, dobro


  supporting musicians:(1975)

- Fred Crane -- keyboards

- Lynn Groom -- keyboards

- Doug Rhone -- guitar

- Ron Snyder -- percussion






The Five Americans (Michael Rabon and Jim Wright)

- Gladstone (Michael Rabon)

- Michael Rabon (solo efforts)






Genre: rock

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  Michael Rabon & Choctaw

Company: Abnak/Uni

Catalog: 73102

Country/State: Oklahoma

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: gatefold sleeve; bullet hole bottom right corner

Available: SOLD

Catalog ID: 2336

Price: SOLD $20.00


Namesake Michael Rabon and drummer Jim Wright had both been members of The Five Americans.  When the band called it quits the pair elected to continue their collaboration in Michael Rabon & Choctaw.  Rounding out the lineup with keyboardist Randy Fouts and bass player Jerry McDonald the quartet was signed by Abnak (which coincidently had been The Five Americans' label).


While this LP  isn't exactly rare, it took me a couple of years to actually track down a copy at a yard sale.  Since I'm a big Five Americans fan (see my write ups on their catalog) I had high hopes for the collection.  Probably a big mistake since high expectations are frequently dashed ...  Produced and largely written by Rabon, 1971's "Michael Rabon & Choctaw" wasn't exactly The Five Americans Part II.  To some extent that's probably a good thing.  Musically the set could be split into two components.  Rabon's folk and country-rock efforts made for what's best described as an acquired taste.  While there wasn't anything wrong with  material like 'Sad Jamboree', 'Musical Apparition', and 'Texas Sparrow', few of these tracks made a lasting impression.  An added problem; at least to my ears Rabon's voice just wasn't well suited for the country rock genre.   In contrast he sounded far more comfortable on more conventional rockers like 'Heaven Knows', 'Country Music' and 'I Need You'. 


Nah, it wasn't a great album, but song-for-song it was quite enjoyable with only one real mis-step.   It's also one of those album's that's gotten better over the years, witness the fact every time I sell a copy I end up going out and buying a replacement.


"Michael Rabon & Choctaw" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Heaven Knows (Michael Rabon) - 3:18   rating:**** stars

The opener has always reminded me of a slightly roughened up Emmit Rhodes. Who in turn has always reminded me of a second generation Paul McCartney.  What's the old math therem ?  A = B, B = C, A = C ...  Michael Rabon = Emmit Rhodes, Emmiit Rhodes = Paul McCartney, Michael Rabon = Paul McCartney.   Yeah, that may have been a stretch, but I quite liked the bouncy rocker 'Heaven Knows'.  Would have made a nice single for folks who like Rhodes, Badfinger, The Raspberries, etc..

2.) Sad Jamboree (Michael Rabon) - 2:45   rating: *** stars

Sweet and pretty acoustic country-rocker which again had a distinctive English feel to it.

3.) Musical Apparition (Michael Rabon) - 3:58   rating:**** stars

Hum, do I detect traces of Buffalo Springfield and Poco ...   Probably the nicest of the country-rock efforts.  Okay, In spite of the cheesy "music as a life saver" lyrics, I'll admit this was actually a pretty nice effort.  One of the album highlights.

4.) Country Music (Michael Rabon) - 2:36   rating:**** stars

Yes, I noted  there was a certain irony to the fact a song titled 'Country Music' was actually one of the album's best rockers.  One of those songs that creeps into your head and reappears when you least expect to hear it.   

5.) Mary Miles (Michael Rabon) - 1:35   rating: ** stars

Hyper-sensitive, heavily orchestrated ballad that sounded out of place on the album.


(side 2)
1.) California, Hollywood (Michael Rabon) - 2:05
   rating: *** stars

Yes there was pedal string guitar on this one, but the autobiographical 'California, Hollywood' was a fun little number which probably explains why it was tapped as a single:

- 1971's  'California Hollywood' b/w  ' Mary Miles' (Uni catalog number 55289).

2.) Texas Sparrow (Michael Rabon) - 3:20   rating: **** stars

Another acoustic country-tinged number.  Very pretty tune with some great harmony vocals (though the treated sound effects were a curiosity).  A sleeper that grows on you in the same way McCartney's 'Blackbird' does.

3.) Down Past The Road (Michael Rabon) - 3:10   rating: **** stars

Sounding almost like a sea chantey, I've always loved Jerry McDonald's rollicking bass line on this one.  It took a good song and made it great.  

4.) I Need You (Michael Rabon) - 2:29   rating: **** stars

Kicked along by a nifty little Rabon guitar lick, 'I Need You' was easily the album's most conventional, most commercial, and most enjoyable rocker.  It would have been even better without the shrill female backing singers.   Regardless, this was the track Uni should have tapped as the single.

5.) Comin' Home (Michael Rabon) - 3:00   rating: **** stars

I hate to label anything as being McCartney-esque, but 'Comin' Home' had the kind of pretty melody that McCartney used to effortlessly toss off.   The album's prettiest melody with some lovely organ from Randy Fouts.   Shame it faded out so early.




The group released at least one non-LP single before calling it quits:


- 1972's 'Let Your Light Shine On' b/w 'Texas Sparrow' (Uni catalog number 55305).








Rabon's musical career then shifted into down gear.  He apparently recorded some material with former Five Americans John Durrill and released an instantly obscure 1975 LP "Texas Till I Die" (Knifewing catalog number KRLP441).  I've never heard it, but judging by the song titles I'm guessing it had a country flavor to it.

There's also at least one solo 45: 'Love is Just A Word' b/w 'Two In One' (Zodiac catalog number Z5-1012).


He then moved on to work as an administrator in the Oklahoma school system and is a member of the Southeastern University Alumni Association Board of Directors.



Wright became a professional photographer living and working in Dennison, Texas.  He passed on in February 2022.





Genre: rock

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  Texas Till I Die

Company: Knife Wing

Catalog:  LRKP441

Country/State: Port Arthur, Texas

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: --

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 20.00


Released by the small Texas-based Knife Wing label, 1975's "Texas Till I Die" found Michael Rabon abandoning his earlier garage rock and blue-eyed soul leanings in favor of a country-orientation. His previous album, 1971's "Michael Rabon & Choctaw" had included tentative moves into country numbers, but there was frequenty a Byrds/Poco feel to those songs.  Recorded at Dallas' Dassasonic Studios with Rabon and Don Smith co-producing, this time around the collection found Rabon following popular tastes in the direction of full throttled country with a couple of country-rockers thrown in the mix.  The hair was a little longer; the voice a little twangier and the arrangements full of pedal steel and fiddle.  On tracks like 'Let the Music Play' and 'Free, Loose, and Lonesome' the sound was pretty straight-forward country.  Not a genre I particularly enjoy so I can't really give those tunes high marks.  Efforts like 'Two-Sided Man' and 'Straight Brothers' Rabon's sense of humor helped a little if you didn't really like country music.  Elsewhere tunes like 'Try a Little Harder', 'Texas (Till I Die)' and 'Just for a Memory' were more in early Eagles / Poco territory.  Those performances were easier for me to deal with.  The album's most atypical performance was also the standout performance.  Sounding like an outtake from a Joe South or Tony Joe White album, 'Shotgun' was a pounding swamp-rocker. Shame the rest of the album didn't flow in the same direction.


"Texas Till I Die" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Let the Music Play (Michael Rabon) - 3:29  rating: ** stars

Well his voice was a little twangier than before and Larry White's pedal steel guitar underscored the country orientation.  Not exactly my musical niche.

2.) Try a Little Harder (Michael Rabon) - 3:00  rating: *** stars

The autobiographical 'Try a Little Harder' was a nice enough up-tempo country tune.  Life is tough in the music business ....  Imagine The Eagles if they'd abandoned pop and rock for country-rock under the leadership of Bernie Leadon.  Still, as I said before, while there wasn't anything wrong with Rabon's new musical orientation, it just wasn't going to make much of an impression on his garage band and blue-eyed soul fans. For better or worse, once again White's pedal steel guitar was prominent throughout.

3.) Just for a Memory (Michael Rabon) - 3:28 rating: **** stars

A pretty Poco-styled ballad, 'Just for a Memory' stripped away some of the excess country in favor of a more pop-oriented sound.  The light orchestration was nice an underscored Rabon's sweet voice.  The track had considerable commercial potential.  Shame Knife Wing didn't have the resources to support the album.

4.) Two-Sided Man (Michael Rabon) - 2:11  rating: ** stars

Back to conventional country.  

5.) Shotgun (Michael Rabon) - 3:55 rating: **** stars

Finally a track with a groove ...  It probably wouldn't have fit on a Five Americans album, but with a glistening swamp-rock vibe 'Shotgun' wouldn't have sounded out of place on a Tony Joe White album.  Awesome acoustic guitar accompaniment.  Wish the song had been longer.


(side 2)

1. Texas (Till I Die) (Michael Rabon) - 3:19  rating: *** stars

He was born and raised in Oklahoma, but I'll admit 'Texas (Till I Die) was a pretty tune (perhaps the album's prettiest) with a sweet nod to John Denver. Actually it would have made a dandy commercial for an airline, or a travel company.

2.) Free, Loose, and Lonesome (Michael Rabon) - 2:50 rating: ** stars

More life is tough as a cowboy country tune.  zzzzzzzzzz

3.) Straight Brothers (Michael Rabon) - 2:09  rating: *** stars

Nice to see Rabon had a sense of humor. 

4.) Dixie Rain (Tommy Savanna) - 3:24  rating: *** stars

The album's lone cover, Tommy Savanna's 'Dixie Rain' was the album's most pop-oriented performance.  Kind of a Lobo flavor on this one.

5.) Country Weddin'  (Michael Rabon) - 3:24 rating: ** stars

Domesticity in the country.  It was clearly intended to be cute, but wasn't.






Rabon released one non-LP single for David Bell's Nashville-based Zodiac Records and then seems to have retired from music:


- 1976's 'Love Is a Song' b/w 'Two In One' (Zodiac catalog ZS 1012)






As far as I can piece it together, Rabon moved back to his native Oklahoma, went back to college earning his bachelors degree and then finished a masters degree in public education.  He got married, had a family and worked as a school principal for the next 30 years, passing away in February 2022.  


YouTube has a brief memorial clip composed of music-related and family photos.  I suspect like the man himself, I found the clip touching and heartfelt; a reflection of a life well lived.  You can judge for yourself: Mike Rabon Memorial - YouTube