The Marshall Tucker Band
Beyond The Horizon
It’s been a while since we’ve heard a new album from The Marshall Tucker Band, but boy howdy - it was worth the wait, sports fans.
The current lineup of the band may very well be the best since the hey day of Toy and Tommy Caldwell, and Horizon serves as an outstanding tribute to the fallen brothers while maintaining an air of fresh newness.
Hot new original songs by guitarist/singer Chris Hicks (formerly of The Outlaws) help to make this one a keeper. Chris brings a tractor trailer full of talent to the mix. Not only does Hicks belt out a soulful vocal riff similar to that of Gregg Allman, in turn acting as the perfect foil to original lead vocalist Doug Gray, he also hits the note on that guitar with all the spirit of the late Toy Caldwell.
“The Ride of Your Life,” co-written by Hicks with some help from Doug’s nephew, Clay Cook, kicks off the record with a hot duet between Doug and Chris, wrapped around a classic Tucker beat provided by B.B. Borden. It’s reminiscent of “Singin’ Rhymes,” from Together Forever.
One story that forced me to hit the repeat button several times was “Give It Everything You’ve Got,” an absolutely positive piece of Southern rock energy with an excellent message delivered by “The Hit Man,” Hicks.
Doug Gray turns in a melodic cover of “Texas On My Mind,” one of two songs included on this album written by Toy Caldwell and recorded on Toy’s solo album. Excellent Caldwell-like riffs punctuate the song, making it an endearing tribute to Toy. It’s another hit waiting to happen. Perhaps Texas could use a new state song?
The title track, “Beyond the Horizon” is classic Tucker, both lyrically and sonically, and “King of The Delta Blues” finds Hicks in Duet with Southern icon Jimmy Hall, telling the story of Robert Johnson. Awesome.
As a personal aside, I remember many years ago when MTB guitar wizard Stuart Swanlund was playing in bands in Spartanburg, S.C. like Lightnin’ West and White Wind, one of my favorite songs he did was “Into Your Eyes.” Imagine my surprise to find it reworked and made even better on the new Tucker record. Beautiful. Go Stuart!
Hicks’ song “The Rain” has been a staple of the MTB live show for a couple of years now, and the studio version is just amazing. A well written, well performed song from the Hitman. Speaking of good writing, Hicks turns in a brand new classic country tune with “Angel With A Honky Tonk Heart.” Gray sings it well, and old friend Paul Hornsby plays some fine piano. (as he does on several tracks).
The remake of Toy’s “Midnight Promises” is a treat, and the set closer is a real fun surprise. I won’t give it away. You’ll have to check it out yourself.
Marshall Tucker Band is back, sports fans, and it’s like they never left. Wait a minute, they never did leave!
-Michael Buffalo Smith