Saturday, August 31, 2013

Track of the Week: Marshall Tucker Band, "Take the Highway"

Last weekend I had the good fortune to attend a friend's wedding down in Spartanburg, South Carolina.  I had me a real good time, and got to see a lot of old friends in the bargain.  I also learned that Spartanburg has rich a musical heritage for such a small town, including the Marshall Tucker Band.  They were lesser known than more prominent Southern rockers of the 1970s like The Allman Brothers Band, but had their share of great songs.

My friend Brian was with me this weekend, and he has long tried to change my mind about Southern rock.  I am a lover of much of the South's musical heritage, such as the blues, R&B, bluegrass, rockabilly, and (classic) country.  However, I'd long been wary of Southern rock, mostly because the people in my hometown who listened to it tended to be the Nebraska equivalent of the dopes on the Jersey Shore: boorish lowlife ingrates.

That said, thanks to Brian I have really developed a love for the Allman Brothers, mostly because they might meld jazz to rock better than any other band that's ever been.  The Marshall Tucker Band could do that well too, as evidenced by "Take the Highway."  It's got a great, folk-rock riff with jazzy flute laid over the top, not the kind of thing one stereotypically expects from a band hailing from a small town in the Carolina piedmont.  There's also a loose, jazzy, jammy structure that shows off the band's musicianship.  Overall, it has the same level of craft and instrumental complexity as your average Rush record, but is a helluva lot funkier and less pretentious.  If you're ever driving down a backwoods highway through the pines, put it on and prepare to be entranced.


Matt J. said...

My parents went to school with the Marshall Tucker Band (and knew Marshall Tucker as well). Never really got their due, as far as I can tell. The band, not my parents. Combining the "members" and "past members" list on Wikipedia, thirty names in all, gives at least a vague idea of what happened.

Brian I said...

Great tune, and great album! Unfortunately, I didn't make it to the Caldwell brothers' graves while in Spartanburg. Guess that will have to be the next trip...