I did not really explore the Marshall Tucker Band until I was college in the mid 1970s, although I knew a few of their songs that got played on the radio, but there was more to this band than what disc jockeys offered.
MTB did not fit into any singular category. They were country-rock, country, pop-rock, Southern-rock, and even progressive-pop. Contemporary artists were the Eagles, Poco, the Byrds, Loggins & Messina, Pure Prairie League, Michael Murphy, Charlie Daniels and Ozark Mountain Daredevils to name a few.
Where We All Belong was the first MTB album that I was exposed to, beyond the tunes selected for radio. A young lady who lived across the street introduced me to MTB and Todd Rundgren.
This album is difficult to categorize, it has elements of early Eagles, jazzy progressions of Loggins & Messina, and attitudes of the Allman Brothers Band. This double-LP, the third MTB album, is a mixture of studio and live recordings, and mixture of styles. It is this variety of musical styles that makes MTB impossible to categorize.
MTB scored a hit on their first album with “Can’t You See” and although there was not a radio hit on their second album, it was well-received and continued their ascension. MTB fans saw past the top 40 and found the innovative musicianship, laidback swing, and jam qualities with a Southern flair. The use of the flute and horns gave the band a distinctive sound, the closest comparison is Loggins & Messina.
If you are a casual MTB fan, a greatest hits collection is the place to start and you won’t be disappointed. For the more adventurous, sample songs from their studio albums and assemble your own MTB library. In the old days, you bought entire albums, usually without familiarity beyond a song or two from the radio. It’s a digital world now.
MTB had a great knack for writing sophisticated pop-rock songs with a measure of country. The band embraced the cowboy spirit with lyrical imagery and haunting musical hooks, and rode that into the 1980s, although they did tweak their sound with more pop flavoring to broaden their audience.
MTB were still going strong as the 1980s began, although they had mostly disappeared from contemporary radio, which happened to a lot of artists popular in the previous decade. Tommy Caldwell, on the original members died, but the band kept on. A version of MTB still performs, although most of the original members have passed away.
Songs written by Toy Caldwell, unless otherwise noted.
“This Ol’ Cowboy” – 6:42 The most familiar song on this album, an edited version was played on the radio. It has a rolling, jazzy acoustic feel to it.
“Low Down Ways” – 3:00 In the same vein as “This Ol’ Cowboy” in the beat and style. Think Ozark Mountain Daredevils and you get the idea. Some nifty guitar picking.
“In My Own Way” – 7:17 The beat is slowed down a gear, but rolls like a gentle country stream. Fiddle and guitar interplay. The song is extended for jazzy flute, guitar and fiddle solos.
“How Can I Slow Down” – 3:19 Upbeat, driving song, augmented with horns, it almost sounds like Chicago.
“Where a Country Boy Belongs” – 4:32 Guest musician Elvin Bishop on slide guitar. Bluesy, a la Allman Brothers.
“Now She’s Gone” (Toy and Tommy Caldwell) – 4:20 More of a bluesy rocker, with some great guitar and driving rock beat.
“Try One More Time” – 4:46 Slow, Ray Charles-type barroom blues.
Side three – live tracks
“Ramblin'” – 6:13 This song contains some incredible guitar playing.
“24 Hours at a Time” – 13:57 This song gives the Allman Brothers Band a run for their money as great concert song. Charlie Daniels lends his fiddle on this track.
Side four – live tracks
“Everyday (I Have the Blues)” (Peter Chatman) – 11:48 Old fashioned guitar blues, with a lot of soloing.
“Take the Highway” – 7:26 A live version of the lead song from their debut album, stretched out a bit for concerts. This song proves they aren’t just a country-rock band.
“See You Later, I’m Gone” – 3:13 Is a bonus track on the CD release. A country flavored song from their debut album.