Them’s Fightin’ Words, Chapter 1: The Marshall Tucker Band

Ask most any music fans what the “best” Marshall Tucker Band songs are, and, likely in this order, they’ll rattle off “Can’t You See” (either version), “Heard It In a Love Song,” and “Fire On the Mountain.”

Sound about right? OK. Now ask ’em to name some more MTB songs, and you’ll probably get **crickets**. Those three, and frankly only the first two, are the only songs most people (not YOU personally; most people) have ever heard. They’re certainly the only ones that ever make it to radio, whether terrestrial or satellite.

The Marshall Tucker Band

Forget sentimental favorites. Let’s look at three of the absolutely greatest songs (“Them’s fightin’ words!”) performed by The Marshall Tucker Band. From the band’s inception in Spartanburg, South Carolina, in 1972 through 1980, The Marshall Tucker Band were: Doug Gray, lead vocals, percussion; Toy Caldwell, electric and acoustic guitars, steel guitar, principle songwriter; Tommy Caldwell, bass guitar, backing vocals; George McCorkle, electric and acoustic guitars, banjo; Jerry Eubanks, alto, tenor & baritone saxophones, flute, backing vocals; and Paul Riddle, drums.

The Marshall Tucker Band

The MTB boys had that Capricorn swing, directly in the musical vein with The Allman Brothers Band, Eric Quincy Tate, Sea Level, and Lynyrd Skynyrd (OK, they weren’t on Capricorn, but they sure embodied that same killer Texas swing). The Marshall Tucker Band had that swing at their very core, and it came rushing out in torrents in songs such as these three:

 

“Bound and Determined”

This is one of the most smokin’ Southern rock tracks you will ever hear. From the band’s fourth album, Searchin’ for a Rainbow (1975), they got additional help from Chuck Leavell’s superb electric piano and organ and Leo LaBranche’s trumpet and horn section arrangements matching up with Eubanks on saxophone. In fact, the song begins with saxophone. The organ backing the groove is so excellent underneath Gray’s soul-stirring vocals. Eubanks solos on tenor, followed by Leavell on electric piano and then Toy Caldwell on a searing solo of his own. The rhythm section is swinging so hard start to finish. As were most MTB tunes, Toy wrote this.

 

“Ramblin’”

This Toy composition appeared on their self-titled debut album (1973) and on the live LP of the double album Where We All Belong (1974). The band kicks this off at 90 MPH and never takes their collective foot off the gas. Toy demonstrates his brilliant technique and inventive ideas as they romp through the song. Gray is the perfect vocalist here, and he gets great space at the end to wail.

 

“Every Day (I Have the Blues)”

This track (yes, the album lists it as “Everyday”) also appears on the live portion of Where We All Belong. The album credits it to Peter Chatman. Could be John Len Chatman. You know him as Memphis Slim. MTB does this song justice. Like these other songs, it just swings and swings and swings. Toy gets an extended workout, and be sure you pay attention to Tommy Caldwell and Paul Riddle here; they really make this happen. There is a righteous tempo shift at the 8-minute mark and a Toy rave-up. DAMN!

 

 

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