114. Marshall Tucker Band

The first thing I noticed when researching the Marshall Tucker Band is their omission in my most recent All Music Guide. The combined All Music Guide includes artists from all music genres, and serves as a general guide. The All Music Guide people also publish guides for each general music category, ad I’m sure the Marshall Tucker entry remains in the Rock Music edition of the book.

Similarly, Marshall Tucker is not profiled in another of my reference books, The Faber Companion To 20th Century Popular Music. Gee, I thought they were pretty good. True, they came along during those key formative years of adolescence, when many, including myself, identify as the best years for music. In my case, I happen to be both lucky and correct.

Marshall Tucker Band on Wikipedia


Marshall Tucker Band was part of a contingent of great rock bands from the southeast U.S.A., which included Lynyrd Skynyrd, the Charlie Daniels Band, Wet Willie, and of course, the great Allman Brothers Band, whose legend looms larger with age. I believe these bands benefited by the influence of the great soul music created in places like Memphis and Muscle Shoals during the 1960s.

I enjoyed reviewing the band’s music. These guys are good. Although some of the review guides refer to their music as having a jazzy influence, I see them as blues style improvisers, with the one twist of having a flute player in the band. Their best songs use the flute to great and unique effect.

Although their music is solid and consistent, the song “Can’t You See” stands out as their greatest song by far. A great example of what can be done with a simple D – D sus4 – C – G progression. A very simple and compelling song. I included two live versions in addition to the studio take.

Guitarist Toy Caldwell is a helluva player. Plucking those strings with his thumb like Wes Montgomery did is cool, too. Both Toy and his brother, bassist Tommy Caldwell, passed away at an early age. The band suffered from real tragedy, and lost momentum shortly after Tommy’s demise from an auto accident in 1980.

An old school band in the sense that they toured and recorded incessantly throughout the 1970s, and gained popularity and fame along the way through hard work. They released six quality albums of original material between 1973 and 1977. They performed about 300 days a year during that time. Hard work made them great.

I’m not a huge fan of their biggest hit, “Heard It In A Love Song”. A little too smooth, a bit too contrived for me. I’m always skeptical about some record executive pleading for a hit record. Perhaps I’m paranoid. It’s included in my collection, but not one of my faves.

Let my paranoia show some more. If Marshall Tucker Band had formed now instead of 40 years ago, I think you’d see a band confined by the Nashville country music template, their young, good looks exploited by the marketeers, pushed into producing hit records and videos. I can also see their South Carolina roots and gentleman cowboy sensibilities politicized. Existing a generation ago benefitted this group, though they may have been more popular today.

The records to have in your collection are a greatest hits compilation, Searchin’ For A Rainbow and perhaps this concert recording from 1973 they just unearthed, Way Out West! Live From San Francisco. Here’s the list:

Can’t You See, Marshall Tucker Band ✭✭✭✭
Can’t You See (Live), Marshall Tucker Band ✭✭✭✭
Can’t You See (Live), Marshall Tucker Band ✭✭✭✭

Another Cruel Love, Marshall Tucker Band ✭✭✭
Another Cruel Love (Live), Marshall Tucker Band ✭✭✭
Take The Highway, Marshall Tucker Band ✭✭✭
Fire On The Mountain, Marshall Tucker Band ✭✭✭

This Ol’ Cowboy, Marshall Tucker Band ✭✭
24 Hours At A Time, Marshall Tucker Band ✭✭
A New Life, Marshall Tucker Band ✭✭
Blue Ridge Mountain Sky, Marshall Tucker Band ✭✭
Bob Away My Blues, Marshall Tucker Band ✭✭
Searchin’ For A Rainbow, Marshall Tucker Band ✭✭

Last Of The Singing Cowboys (Live), Marshall Tucker Band
Heard It In A Love Song, Marshall Tucker Band

Note: The two live versions of “Can’t You See” are found on The Capricorn Years and Way Out West!.

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