Marshall Tucker Band: Where We All Belong - Album Of The Week Club review

The Marshall Tucker Band's third album Where We All Belong was part rock, part country, part jazz, half studio and half live; an altogether different take on southern rock

Marshall Tucker Band - Where We All Belong cover art
(Image: © Capricorn Records)

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Marshall Tucker Band - Where We All Belong

Marshall Tucker Band - Where We All Belong cover art

(Image credit: Capricorn Records)

This Ol' Cowboy
Low Down Ways
In My Own Way
How Can I Slow Down
Where A Country Boy Belongs
Now She's Gone
Try One More Time
24 Hours At A Time
Everyday (I Have the Blues)
Take The Highway

Like The Allman Brothers Band, the Marshall Tucker Band – from Spartanburg, South Carolina – were another brother act. They put an altogether more country spin on the southern rock sound, but it was in their blood: Toy Caldwell had learned guitar from his father, an accomplished country guitarist, while brother Tommy played bass guitar in a similar thumb-picking style.

After a show in the Allman Brothers' hometown of Macon, GA, the Allman's manager, Phil Walden, was so impressed by their combination of powerful rock and slick country styling that he signed them to Capricorn Records.

Their self-titled debut in 1972 was a great success, and its opening track, Take The Highway, made a huge impression on FM radio. They released two more albums the following year: A New Life in February, and the double album Where We All Belong in November. With half the album recorded in the studio and the other half live at the Performing Arts Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, it was certified gold a year later. 

Incidentally, there was no Marshall or Tucker in the band - the band's name was borrowed from a local piano tuner. 

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Other albums released in November 1974

  • Autobahn - Kraftwerk
  • Cantamos - Poco
  • Fly to the Rainbow - Scorpions
  • Man of Miracles - Styx
  • Nightlife - Thin Lizzy
  • Saturnight - Cat Stevens
  • Country Life - Roxy Music
  • Goodnight Vienna - Ringo Starr
  • The Butterfly Ball and the Grasshopper's Feast - Roger Glover
  • The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway - Genesis
  • John Dawson Winter III - Johnny Winter
  • Relayer - Yes
  • Fire on the Mountain - Charlie Daniels Band
  • Slade in Flame - Slade
  • 7-Tease - Donovan
  • Bluejeans & Moonbeams - Captain Beefheart
  • Desolation Boulevard - Sweet
  • Myopia - Tom Fogerty
  • Out Of The Storm - Jack Bruce
  • Propaganda - Sparks
  • Soon Over Babaluma - Can
  • Stormbringer - Deep Purple
  • Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy) - Brian Eno
  • There's the Rub - Wishbone Ash
  • Sheer Heart Attack - Queen
  • Wish You Were Here - Badfinger


What they said...

"Where We All Belong shows Marshall Tucker in both its studio and live incarnations, with several of the studio tracks marking an improvement over even the exceptional first two albums. The real treat however, is the live set, which features a 13-minute-plus version of 24 Hours At A Time on which the band kicks up its heels and lets loose with a long jam that includes a long, hot guitar solo by lead guitarist Toy Caldwell. This album is a must-own for any popular music fan." (RateYourMusic)

"With cover art by Jim Campbell, drawn from photos by George's brother Chuck McCorkle, Where We All Belong is nothing short of a classic rock and roll album. Excellent production and superior playing make this the definitive Marshall Tucker Band album." (Swampland)

"Although it runs a little long, Where We All Belong captures the sound of The Marshall Tucker Band coming into its own. Half the tracks are new studio recordings, which are more focused than their previous releases; the other half is a harder-edged, jam-oriented live set. Taken together, they show that the band was progressing musically." (AllMusic)


What you said...

Brian Carr: Southern rock typically doesn’t move me much. There are some songs in the genre that I like, but often to me, southern rock tunes can be unnecessarily long. Where We All Belong by The Marshall Tucker Band definitely fits this description. 

Album opener This Ol’ Cowboy and at least one or two of the other studio tracks didn’t seem to want to end. Then came the live half, where lengthy jams push tracks beyond the ten minute mark. I’m not opposed to instrumental solos, but these, like many southern rock tunes, just seem to meander and do little for my tastes. 

The flute does sound good when it appears, and I did enjoy some of the guitar work here. Take The Highway worked the best, with its driving rhythm and tighter solos. Too much of the album just went nowhere for me, though. Guess you can’t like everything.

Uli Hassinger: I only knew the Marshall Tucker band by name. My first impression of the album was: Southern rock? What!?

In fact the studio album doesn't has to do anything with southern rock apart from the band's origin. In southern rock the electric guitar has to be the dominant instrument, which isn't the case on the studio songs where piano, flute and horns are the main instruments. Mainly it's pure 70s Rock with jazzy, easy listening influences. Surprisingly, the songs This Ol' Cowboy and Where A Country Boy Belongs didn't sound like country music at all. The only songs which I would describe as country rock are Low Down Ways and In My Own way.

This said that doesn't mean that I don't like the songs. It's just not southern rock. I especially dig the horn and flute sections which makes the album very special. The piano player is not a slouch either and the jazzy guitar playing is great. I like all the studio tracks but the best songs are the slowest: In My Own Way and Try One More Time.

Then came the live section. Ok, now we are in the game. This is what I would call southern rock. The electric guitar takes over and Toy Caldwell has the chance to demonstrate what a brilliant player he is. He has a very precise playing, hitting the tones perfectly. I am wondering why I never have heard of him when it comes to the great guitar players of the 70s.

On the live album my favourite track is 24 Hours At A Time. Over 13 minutes long and not a single second boring. Every musician get a space to shine with all their different instruments. Just great. Take The Highway is another gem.

I enjoyed the whole album very much even if I had expected something different. 8/10 for me.

John Davidson: Closer to jazz country than southern rock, this is well executed music that I don't particularly care for.

The live set is better... with an Allman Brothers vibe to some of the songs but not enough to tempt me to buy into their style. 6/10.

Fred Varcoe: Saw the Marshall Tucker Band at Hammersmith Odeon in London in the 70s and they were awesome. I get that some people don't like country music (I'm one), but when you have great songs, a stupendous vocalist and an out-of-this-world, rocking guitarist, I can put up with almost anything.

Alex Hayes: I'm not gonna lie. After last week, I wasn't really up for Where We All Belong. It was the length of the album that initially put me off. For the second week in a row, we've been presented with a body of music well over an hour long for our consideration. Yikes.

Where We All Belong gradually won me over though. It's an endearing album, that, despite sharing certain similarities to Chicago II from last week, was far more palatable to me. It also reminded me of Black Oak Arkansas's High On The Hog, another recent Album Of The Week selection, whose rustic, easy-going nature effortlessly charmed me.

Just like Chicago II, this third album from South Carolina's Marshall Tucker Band is notable for both its eclecticism and talented ensemble of musicians. It's daunting length, well over an hour and a quarter, is down to its half studio/half live mixture. Some of the best moments can be found on the live disc. 24 Hours At A Time and Take The Highway are both stand-out tracks. It was great to hear the band jam along with Charlie Daniels on the former.

There's not really much more for me to say here. This was much more enjoyable for me than last week, but I doubt it's an album that I'll come back to very often in the future. Fans of southern rock should certainly give this album a try though. The Marshall Tucker Band rank as one of that genre's very finest.

Mike Canoe: To my ears, this is a straight up American country album. Which is fine - if I'm going to listen to country music, this is the kind progressive country that I like. The musicianship is exceptionally strong and the lyrics are honky-tonk ready. Probably the most "rock'n'roll" thing about it is that it was recorded outside of the rigid Nashville system. Because let's face it, while the flute, fiddle, and horns have their place in rock'n'roll, they're not what most folks think of as rock'n'roll.

Opener This Ol' Cowboy wouldn't sound out of place on an old Willie Nelson album. Toy Caldwell has a perfect "country weary" voice. Actual lead singer Doug Gray is a little smoother, a little slicker and I like him better on the live tracks like Take The Highway and 24 Hours At A Time when his voice has picked up a little "road rasp." 24 Hours At A Time," of course, is the tour de force here. The band is white hot enough to support a guitar solo, a fiddle solo, and even a sax solo. It's nice to hear Charlie Daniels playing on something beside Halloween perennial, The Devil Went to Georgia.

So what's a "country album" doing in the Classic Rock Album Of The Week Club? I don't know, but I'd say the two genres have influenced each other since the beginning and there's plenty of lyrical common ground between women, whisky, and the road. And, of course, music played well is music well played.

Fred Harris: Just a great album. The live version of 24 hours At A Time is a great song with “Charlie Daniels on fiddle with us”. Do miss those times.

Adam Ranger: Generally I prefer the first two studio albums, but this is a great album. Originally a double LP, the first two sides are new studio recordings and sides three and four contain four live recordings of previous songs.

Overall the album showcases the various styles of the Marshall Tucker Band very well (Tommy Caldwell described the Marshall Tucker Band's music as progressive country, explaining that the band played country music structures and riffs combined with jazz improvisation upon which more complex structures were built from the country music foundation).

The first three tracks show the country influences very well, and includes Charlie Daniels of fiddle. The next four tracks showcase the more rock/jazz and blues influence and there is even a hint of funk in there with the horns. Both sides are very easy to listen to, like an aural hug: feel-good music even when the songs may deal with less than happy times.

Sides three and four are where this album really comes alive for me. Just four live tracks, two around the seven minute mark and two between 12 and 15 minutes. These extended jams really showcase the bands style and musicality: fiddle, flute, piano and just wonderful guitars, 24 Hours At A Time and Take The Highway being my favourites here.

Greg Schwepe: Somehow on my southern rock sojourn the Marshall Tucker Band got overlooked. Like others that have commented, my main “southern rock go-to band” is Lynyrd Skynyrd with a good dose of Molly Hatchet and Blackfoot mixed in as well. Other extensive catalogue “deep dives” over time have been The Outlaws, Allman Brothers, and Charlie Daniels.

This South Carolina-based band in this week’s selection has always missed my radar somehow; besides the two classic rock radio mainstays, Heard It In A Love Song and Can't You See. I had made two random Marshall Tucker Band album download purchases a few years ago, and my minimal interaction with those albums gave me the same reaction to this week’s review choice; “Hmmm… really like half of it… the other half, well, not so much.”

First up, the musicianship and vocals are top notch. Toy Caldwell’s guitar playing is superb. I also am OK with the jazzy vibe (with flute!) at times that Marshall Tucker Band brings, similar to the Allmans and Charlie Daniels. I can handle “fiddle” (yeah, in southern rock it’s not “violin”!) but when it gets a little “too country” that’s where I get lost. Same with pedal steel. I can handle to a point, but when it gets “too country” like the fiddle, I just lose interest.

That being said, the more rock and blues style songs I really liked were Now She’s Gone and Try One More Time. A few of the songs with the country vibe just seem to pass me by. Can’t describe it but just can’t take a liking to those. And I guess you can tell I really don't take a liking to country music either.

The live portion of this album I like as they are basically southern rock jams for the most part. That said, I also like live albums that are a true representation of a show from start to finish. While these are great tunes, it’s like they just looked for four additional long jams they could stick on the album and make it a double.

So, to sum it up. Rock and bluesy songs on Where We All Belong? Great! Those songs that get too country-tinged - no can do! 6 out of 10 on me for this one. Ditch the pedal steel on a few tunes and this might get an “8” from me!


Final Score: 6.88 (59 votes cast, with a total score of 406)

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