By Lee Zimmerman
THE MARSHALL TUCKER BAND
NEW YEAR’S IN NEW ORLEANS: ROLL UP ’78 AND LIGHT UP ’79!
Ramblin Records (2-CD)
The Marshall Tucker Band could be considered something of an anachronism, a group that once was well represented among a succession of '70s Southern rockers — the Allman Brothers Band, the Charlie Daniels Band, the Outlaws, and Lynyrd Skynyrd included — but whose varied approach allowed them to stand apart with a decidedly distinctive style. Their legacy may not have lingered as long as those of their peers, but they had both the mettle and the material to gain a dedicated fan following regardless.
For those who missed them the first time around, this well recorded double disc provides an ideal introduction. Captured at a headlining gig on New Years Eve at the Warehouse, New Orleans’ prime gathering spots for live music throughout the '70s and the dawn of the '80s, it lingered in the vaults over 40 years, and yet still sounds as fresh as ever. According to the liner notes, Marshall Tucker were regular visitors to the venue, and the crowd who gathered that evening were clearly ardent admirers. As the title implies, the festivities were fuelled by ample quantities of both herb and enthusiasm, but the band not only rose to the occasion but apparently exceeded expectations as well.
It’s little wonder. The seminal line-up, consisting of Toy Caldwell, Jerry Eubanks, Doug Gray, George McCorkle, Paul Riddle and the late Tommy Caldwell, was still intact, and their set list included not only their mainstream hits “Fire on the Mountain,” “Heard It in a Love Song” and “Can’t You See,” but enough other crowd pleasers — among them, a stunning extended take on the seminal standard “Will the Circle Be Unbroken” as a final finale — to maintain the show’s momentum and electrify an elated audience. Indeed, the band’s in fine form and the well-restored recordings suggest that their efforts were both powerful and potent. Given that the energy and enthusiasm never wavers, this particular performance not only represents them well, but also provides proof that they were, and still are, among the best bands Dixie’s ever delivered.