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Marshall Tucker Band - Stompin' Room Only 
CD Review: Jim Moulton

They continue today as a very hot entity, and have recently released a very good CD titled Stompin' Room Only. This truly is a historic recording, as it was originally supposed to be released in 1977 after Carolina Dreams, but it didn't happen then. They had just finished a tour of Europe in late 1976. 

I'm sure you have gotten enhanced CDs, well this package has an enhanced set of liner notes. Paul Hornsby, claiming credit for all recording, production and remastering, talks a lot about how great the tour was, how he recorded many shows and how great the recording is. I was expecting something equivalent to the Grateful Dead's Europe 72 or The Allman Brothers Live at Fillmore East. I was in for a big surprise, the recording sounds more like a soundboard recording or an average GD Dick's Picks( which were all two track recordings). You can hear the vocals and lead instruments well, but as you get into the rhythm section, it starts getting muddy and the worst thing is that you can barely hear Paul Riddle's drums at all, sometimes all that you hear are what sounds like one stick hitting a muted tom tom. The drums should be out front in a rock recording. Fortunately, most of the time you can hear Tommy Caldwell's bass real well, but he drops out in the mix occasionally. They apparently recorded many shows ,but on this CD they only included eight tracks from only two shows, one in Manchester UK and one in London. There are three other songs which were previously released, one from a Volunteer Jam and two which were previously released on a MTB record "Where We All Belong". The recording quality of the two tracks from "Where We all Belong" is superb, including "Ramblin" and "24 Hours at a Time", Riddle's drums are right out front and the overall quality is much better than the British tracks. Having said all of that, if you are a fan of the MTB, this is still a must have, because the performance of the band on the European tracks is incredible, especially Toy and Tommy Caldwell. Forgetting about the drums, everything else is pretty good.

The band was playing at a high level during that time period, I saw them myself many times between 74-76, when these tracks were recorded. It was the original band at their best. Also, there is just much not material around that is live from that era, so I still highly recommend it, with my own Caveat Emptor (like on a Dick's Picks).

The Band starts out cooking with a great version of their very country influenced "Long Hard Ride" which is an instrumental, Toy just plain out cooks. Great version of one of my all time favorites "This Ol' Cowboy", for some reason Doug Gray sings the lead part, Toy usually sings this song, Toy and Tommy really jam out this one. Some great rhythm guitar by McCorkle on this song which has a jazzy, swing feel. Then they go into two very country sounding songs "Fire On The Mountain" and "Searchin For a Rainbow". Toy playing pedal steel on the first song. They do a hot version of the southern rock "Take The Highway", which has some nice flute on it. The most recent song that they do is "Blue Ridge Mountain Sky" which on the studio version has a very country feel to it. They pick it up and do a more electric rock version here live and do some nice jamming. "The Thrill is Gone" is from the '75 Volunteer Jam with many other musicians on board, but Doug does a great job with the vocals.

The disc ends with probably the best sounding song from the European tour "Hillbilly Band" , Toy sings lead on this and plays some guitar that will take your head off, he has to have the fastest thumb in the west (never uses a pick, just his thumb). The CD also has a good version of "Can't You See" on it with Toy singing lead on that tune too, Doug Gray does all of the other lead vocals. 

I asked George McCorkle what his memories of the '76 European Tour were and here is his response:

The 76' Tour of Europe was a real treat for me! It was new territory to invade with MTB music!! The band played great that whole tour if I remember right! The English crowds were normally quite subdued but they didn't act like that to us!! We were even told not to expect much response form the audience before we went on but that's not the way it turned out!!! It was a fun time in my life and very exciting to say the least!! I've heard the CD and believe it captured the band very well!!
My best to you Jim and thanks for continuing to review CDs for the folks on the Web to see and help make decisions to purchase them!!!
George McCorkle

Go visit the band at www.marshalltucker.com  and buy a copy at www.amazon.com  ,they have a lot of used copies for under ten bucks, can't beat that.

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