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Marshall Tucker Band - 1979 Running Like The Wind

ARTIST: Marshall Tucker Band
ALBUM: Running Like The Wind
LABEL: Warner Bros
YEAR: 1979
CD REISSUE: 2005 Shout! Factory/ Ramblin' Records, DK 31773


LINEUP: Doug Gray - vocals * Toy Caldwell - guitar, vocals * Jerry Eubanks - flute, sax, vocals * George McCorkle - guitar * Tommy Caldwell - bass, vocals * Paul Riddle - drums

Additional Musicians: Chuck Leavell - keyboards * Steve Madaio, Gary Grant, David Leull, Gary Herbig, Bill Reichenbach - horns

TRACK LISTING: 01 Running Like The Wind * 02 Last Of The Singing Cowboys * 03 Answer To Love * 04 Unto These Hills * 05 Melody Ann * 06 My Best Friend


Country rock, southern rock, or even jazz rock- however you want to label The Marshall Tucker Band's music there's no denying their originality and musicianship. Formed in South Carolina, their southern mellow meets prog rock 1973 debut announced their arrival as a serious contender for The Allman Brothers jam band - Dixie rock throne. Several critically acclaimed albums combined with endless touring finally paid off in 1977 with a major hit single 'Heard It In A Love Song'. Unfortunately it was not to last with the disillusion of the group's label Capricorn Records in 1978. Eventually signing to Warner Brothers, The Marshall Tucker Band recorded 'Running Like The Wind' in Florida, giving the group a very upbeat and sunshiny sound which did not exactly please long time fans.

The Songs
Give the boys credit for trying something new. Much to the dismay of Tucker fans, gone are the trappings of the southern rock including less use of pedal steel in favor of a pop rock production and while not exactly sounding like The Eagles, there are similarities in approach. First and foremost the title track is brilliant. I remember it getting substantial airplay at the time fitting perfectly with FM/AOR formats with elements of light jazz fusion making for a very satisfying listen. The jazziness continues with the minor hit single 'Last Of The Singing Cowboys' and if Chicago had gone the country rock route, I imagine this is what they would have sounded like. So far lots of big horns, although 'Answer To Love' takes it down a notch with a sweet love song that could only been written with the dusky Carolina hills in mind. The pedal steel returns on the funk-lite of 'Melody Ann' and while 'My Best Friend' and 'Pass It On' are The Marshall Tucker Band at their most average, 'Running Like The Wind' as a whole makes for a breezy listen and a trip back in time I take often.

In Summary
Indeed, this was the first Marshall Tucker Band album I owned, digging deeper into their catalog as the months went on only to be stunned by the death of Tommy Caldwell in April 1980 due to a massive head injury from a Jeep accident. From here on the Tucker's continued to release albums and tour, but the magic was missing. Like the aftermath of the Lynyrd Skynyrd plane crash, another era had come to an end with Caldwell's passing and southern rock would never be the same.

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