Marshall Tucker shares Southern goodness live

Marshall Tucker Band in its prime: “New Year’s In New Orleans: Roll Up ’78 and Light Up ’79”

When they strode onto the stage at NOLA’s fabled Warehouse, The Marshall Tucker Band was still riding high on their hit “Heard it in a Love Song,” played here in all its glory.

Thrilled too, that 3,500 holiday revelers packed the huge place, they went to town for them, and also for the largest radio audience in broadcast history at the time. “New Year’s In New Orleans: Roll Up ’78 and Light Up ’79” jumps with the excitement of a band that, to this day, remains one of a kind.

Guitarist Toy Caldwell wrote songs such as “Can’t You See” and “This Ol’ Cowboy” that by these five players, conveyed charismatic Southern goodness, foot-stomping Western twists and swings, and just plain great rock ‘n’ roll. Caldwell ripped at a guitar like nobody’s business. His jazz and blues and chicken pickin’ mixture, relentlessly delivered, certifies him among the greatest stylists ever, and one matchless in tone.

This album’s version of “Blue Ridge Mountain Sky” may be the best on record, and Caldwell gets down in it, and then sails to the heavens. The tapes of this show have been expertly restored, with a final stamp by the band’s original producer and auxiliary piano player, Paul Hornsby. That level of care, and the band’s hot performance, places it among Tucker’s top live albums, right next to the classic 1974 pieces appended to the seminal “Where We All Belong” album.

Listen to bassist Tommy Caldwell’s thunderous punch at the outset of the swinging “Desert Skies,” and know why the late, great Allen Woody of The Allman Brothers Band looked to Caldwell as a hero. The grand “Fly Like an Eagle” soars on vocalist Doug Gray’s huge range and rich character before it kicks hard into the instrumental cowboy classic, “Long Hard Ride.” All the essentials are present, so “New Years In New Orleans: Roll Up ’78 and Light Up ’79” serves as an excellent introduction to The Marshall Tucker Band, and is essential for fans, just the same. 

— Tom Clarke

Marshall Tucker Band
‘New Year’s In New Orleans: Roll Up ’78 and Light Up ‘79’
Release: Jan. 17, 2020

Marshall Tucker Band concert photo by Sidney Smith
Toy Caldwell photo by Sidney Smith

About Tom Clarke

From pre-war blues to the bluegrass of the Virginia hills, Tom Clarke has a passion for most any kind of deep-rooted American music, and has been writing about it for 23 years. He’s particularly fond of anything from Louisiana, and the 45-year timelines and ever-growing family trees of The Allman Brothers Band and Los Lobos.Tom’s reviews and articles have appeared in BluesPrint, the King Biscuit Times, Hittin’ The Note, Blues Revue, Elmore, Blues Music Magazine, and now, Tahoe Onstage.Tom and his wife Karen raised four daughters in upstate New York. They split their time between the Adirondack Mountains and coastal South Carolina.

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