1970's & early '80's Marshall Tucker Band - guilty pleasure or good country/blues rock?

During high school in the mid-late 70's, aside from the Allmans and Little Feat, was never much into southern rock of that era. Thought the Outlaws sounded generic, like the southern equivalent of late period Eagles. Didn't care for Skynyrd. .38 Special wasn't. Wildly successful bands, just not my thing. But I loved the Marshall Tucker Band of that era; their blend of country, blues and occasional jazz like touches just struck me right. Loved the vocals. Great guitar work. The drummer was distinctive. I would think their older music would have fit into the general ballpark of music discussed on this site, but seldom see their name mentioned, which got me to wondering if they have become more of a guilty pleasure, mostly forgotten, or were they never that big a deal aside from their hits. Thoughts?

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I love the Allmans, Little Feat, Skynyrd, Molly Hatchet and many of the Southern rock bands of the era. The Outlaws were a great bar band with a few good albums. And as for the Marshall Tucker Band, how can any group with Toy Caldwell in the lineup be a guilty pleasure?
Until Toy Caldwell was mentioned yesterday in the current discussion of greatest slide players, I could not recall a single MTB reference in any past discussion, not that I've seen every post and comment. Since other bands of that era are mentioned on the ND site, and because I always considered MTB to be several cuts above most of their '70's peers, their lack of mentions on the ND site surprises me a bit. I can't see them being off in guilty pleasure territory either, but I am curious as to how people active on this site see their vintage records. My thought is that had this site or the magazine been around during the 70's, MTB would have been featured pretty well, no?
I was and still am a big Southern rock fan. Thought the Marshall Tucker Band was great. Toy Caldwell is the one who typically garners the most praise (deservingly so), but I also loved Doug Gray's vocal. Rambin' comes to mind.

I thought the Outlaws first three albums were great. Just bought them all again recently. Once they lost Henry Paul and then Billy Jones, I would agree that they started to sound like a more generic rock band and not very "Southern." They seemed to lose the country part of their sound almost completely. Still think Green Grass and High Tides is one of the most ferocious rock and roll songs I've ever heard. Eagles couldn't touch that one.
MTB's '24 Hours At A Time' - a guilty pleasure certainly not....

The Outlaws - 'Green Grass & High Tides' - ditto above
Ah, 24 Hours at a Time is certainly a great one. I'm also very partial to This Ol' Cowboy. And Can't You See still takes me breathe away.

.38 Special never appealed to me, at least what got played on the radio. I remember thinking something to the affect of "Southern Rock? Are you kidding me? Why, just because Ronnie Van Zant's brother's in the band?" I always liked Lynyrd Skynyrd (the Ronnie Van Zant-led Skynyrd, that is. One of my all time favortie front men.), but didn't really have them in my personal pantheon until shortly after getting the Drive By Truckers Southern Rock Opera album, which I got soon after reading about DBT in their first ND article. With a little help from Patterson Hood, I started to realize just how great and well crafted so many of their SONGS were. But as Mr. Hood aptly put it in Life in the Factory, it's a "sad story when legend overshadows the songs and the band."

Thought the first two Molly Hatchett albums were a lot of fun. Lost interest in them after Danny Joe Brown left. Beating the Odds just didn't do it for me. Recently, I actually listened to the lyrics of Flirtin' With Disaster and was surprised how thoughtful they were. I guess I never paid much attention to their lyrics back then. Was more about the blazing and endless guitar solos and Danny Joe's growl.
The live version (especially) of 24 Hours At A Time is amazing. Another personal favorite is I'll Be Loving You off Together Forever; succinct lyrics at the beginning and end with a great, great guitars/bass/drums blast in the middle. Toy was a major highlight but not the only; Doug's singing, Paul Riddle's drumming, the horns, it all worked. The list of their best tunes would be a long one and not just those that made the radio.

.38 Special was Toto or Survivor with a hint of southern like sounds thrown in. In fact, Jim Peterik, who wrote Vehicle for the Ides of March, wrote or co-wrote some (most?) of the big hits for .38 Special and later did the same for Survivor, which seems symmetrical in that .38 and Survivor were both basic, slick, formulaic pop.

Yeah, the first two Molly Hatchet records were fun, and they were fun live too; saw them twice around 1979-80 and still enjoy hearing them on the radio every once in a while.

Still think that the Allmans, Little Feat and MTB were the top of the 70's southern rock heap.
I'll Be Loving You is phenomenal. First song off that album, as I remember (Maybe not. Too lazy to look it up.) Think I might have gotten that one off the budget rack in the late 70's.

I saw Molly Hatchet twice as well. Both times opening for the Outlaws. First show was in 1978. I had never heard of them. Needlessly to say, nobody was yelling at them to get off the stage. I wouldn't say that they blew the Outlaws off the stage, as they were great as well. Still, they were surprisingly good.

I think the Allmans are numero uno on the Southern Rock list. Their influence on some of the other great southern bands are obvious. I think of them as on their own level.

In my mind, I never put Little Feat in the Southern Rock category, not that it matters. Maybe because they covered so much ground musically. One of my all time favorite bands. Probably top ten. Waiting For Columbus might be my favorite live album, even after all these years.

I think the first two Charlie Daniels Band albums (Fire on the Mountain and Nightrider) are classic Southern Rock albums. Significant drop off after that.
Great country/blues rock. I am in no way ashamed of my fondness for MTB. Not many bands of that era , most certainly not country/rock bands, featured a flute and sax. George McCorkle was a great rhythm player. Paul Riddle a great drummer. And Toy Caldwell is one of my favorite guitar players.........ever. Pick up a release of live stuff from the mid 70's called "Stompin' Room Only". It'll convert any doubters. I think it's a travesty they haven't been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
GUILTY PLEASURE???, you just woke a sleeping giant when I see people dissing the MTB, I knew George McCorkle personally and one of their recording engineers. Toy Caldwell, one of greatest slide guitar players? He never played slide guitar. Toy was one of the most underated guitarists of the 70s. He would usually play one song on pedal steel during their shows. "Can't You See", one of the best southern rock songs ever.
Here is probably why they were not as popular as their peers, Their studio albums had a country sound to them. Dicky Betts made a country album, but that is just one record. Anyone who attended a Tucker show, would see lots of guys in cowboy hats, they had a lot of rednecks for fans. The best Southern rock show that I ever saw was The Charlie Daniels Band and Marshall Tucker. First time I ever saw The CDB. They blew me away, They played the whole album "Saddle Tramp" along with their hits "Long Haired Country Boy", and "The South's Gonna Do it again.
The Original Marshall Tucker Band only lasted 10 albums. Tommy Caldwell had died in a motorcycle accident, Toy had quit the group to start his own group. Their best CD to listen to is "Stompin Room Only" ,all live. They just released another live album "Out West", but they did not do a very good job with the mastering and restoration. They have a live DVD from 77 with CDS that is classic, great sound.
No, They don't belong here.
Jim, no one's dissing them here, all agree the vintage lineup was a great band. My post was prompted by three things; 1) few if any mentions of MTB on this site, 2) in the discussion of greatest slide players, someone else suggesting Toy as a great slide player (was surprised to see his name at all, proper context or not), and 3) in the flat out great songs discussion, someone actually listed Wichita Lineman as a guilty pleasure! If an all time classic Jimmy Webb tune could be considered a guilty pleasure, then pretty much anyone else could too. No, I was not suggesting at all that MTB was a guilty pleasure, but I was grasping at straws wondering why on a site so attuned to country rock why their profile was low to non-existent. I would have thought that those in their late 40's and early 50's and beyond on this site would point to them as being a great roots act and that younger people would have found them like they have other bands of that era. None of the many musicians on this site seem to refer to them. It all just surprises me, that's all.
Jim, just to correct a slight misstatement regarding Tommy's death in a motorcycle accident. His death was due to his Jeep-type vehicle overturning as he tried to avoid an errant driver on S.Church St. in Spartanburg.

If you listen to "A New Life" (MTB) and Toy's solo album, I believe you'll hear him playing slide on both of them...the acoustic stuff on "Toy Caldwell" is especially tasty....



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Created by No Depression Feb 17, 2009 at 9:06pm. Last updated by No Depression Sep 24, 2012.