The Marshall Tucker Band – Together Forever

Confident and impressive follow-up to Platinum selling Carolina Dreams

How often do married couples declare their eternal love, only to divorce just a couple of years later under a cloud of bitter acrimony? Therefore a title such as Together Forever was always going to be a pretty bold statement, but one which certainly rang true when it came to The Marshall Tucker Band, who, along with The Allman Brothers, were one of Southern rock’s earliest pioneers, incorporating rock, country, blues, as well as jazz influences into their sound.

Together Forever was the Marshall’s seventh studio album, and one which showed that in no way had they lost their enthusiasm nor energy. Doug Gray has a powerful voice, and he puts it to good use on opener “I’ll Be Loving You,” a song reminiscent of the Allman Brothers sans keyboards, thanks mainly to a rather burly Toy Caldwell guitar solo half way through.

They harmonise wonderfully on “Love Is A Mystery,” resurrect their past glories via the terrific “Singing Rhymes,” a country-rock number during which Toy and Gray take turns at lead vocals. The swinging “Dream Lover” is one part Jethro Tull, one part boogie-rock (a la Canned Heat), and one part jazz, with just a tinge of country, as one would expect.

The reflective and lovelorn “Everybody Needs Somebody” is followed by the tight, jam-like “Change Is Gonna Come,” the longest track here, and further proof of the group’s willingness to incorporate an array of musical styles into their mostly country palette. And it’s this openness which means that nothing on Together Forever drags or becomes boring. Clearly, going through the motions was never an option. Saxophones, extended guitar solos, “Change” is a fine example of the Tucker’s collective and impressive pool of talent.

The acoustic “Asking Too Much of You” ended the original LP on a plaintive, reflective note, however the CD comes with a bonus track, “Bound and Determined,” recorded live November 1975 at Armadillo World HQ, Austin, Texas. And while the extra recording is welcome, it does beg the question as to why further material hasn’t been excavated, since surely for a group who spent so much time on the road touring, one would expect there to be a veritable Aladdin’s Cave of previously unreleased live/studio recordings.

Together Forever would turn out to be their fifth gold record, not bad for 1978, indicating that the group still had a strong loyal following, and rightly so.