The Marshall Tucker Band
Beyond the Horizon
First Appeared in The Music Box, June 2004, Volume 11, #6
Written by John Metzger
Since last fall, The Marshall Tucker Bandís catalog has been undergoing the industryís customary restorative efforts in celebration of the 30th anniversary of the groupís superb eponymous debut. In other words, its early outings are receiving a much-needed digital facelift and are being padded with a variety of bonus tracks. So, if ever there was a time for the ensemble to record an album of new material, this is it, and Beyond the Horizon ó the groupís first collection of songs since Gospel, its spiritually-flavored effort from 1999 ó is, for better or for worse, the end result.
The good news for fans is that despite the fact that only one founding member remains involved in the project, The Marshall Tucker Bandís trademark sound from the early í70s is left largely intact. Indeed, the entirety of Beyond the Horizon draws from the same wellspring of Southern rock, soul, country, jazz, and blues that has been the groupís inspiration since its inception, and frontman Doug Gray seems to have surrounded himself with a talented crew that is quite capable of replicating precisely those things that made the original ensemble so special all those years ago. The bad news, not surprisingly, is that like most collectives sharing similarly lengthy careers, The Marshall Tucker Band really doesnít find any new directions for its music so much as it retreads the same familiar roads with a sometimes stifling air of professionalism. Even so, thereís little doubt that within a concert setting, all 12 of the new tunes will feel comfortably at home among the classics and likely will flourish as a result of the groupís give-and-take with its audience, but unfortunately, that sense of urgency is felt only sporadically on the album. As a result, Beyond the Horizon is little more than a perfunctorily solid effort, one that will please longtime fans, nonetheless. However, for newcomers wondering about the fuss that has been made over the group through the years, earlier efforts such as A New Life, Where We All Belong, or the groupís self-titled debut would make for a far better starting point. This one is clearly for those who already are rambliní down the highway on that Dixie-bound Greyhound. Ĺ
1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2004 The Music Box