A quintet of sparkling new Toy Caldwell compositions join tracks by his Marshall Tucker cohorts on Long Hard Ride, the group’s satisfying fifth vinyl excursion.
The instrumental title cut, a Toy Caldwell number that may emerge as the South Carolina band’s next single, constitutes the album’s centerpiece. Aptly described by Toy’s bassist brother Tommy as being “to the guitar what ‘Orange Blossom Special’ is to the fiddle,” the tune seems redolent of both Duane Eddy’s style and the vintage “Ghost Riders in the Sky.” The group is in top form throughout; and support from the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s John McEuen and fiddler Charlie Daniels prove to be a big plus.
The rest of the album, which variously spotlights each member of the band, delights consistently. Toy’s “Property Line” and “You Say You Love Me,” for example, sport rapid-fire guitar work and soaring Doug Gray vocals. On the mellow “Holding On to You,” by rhythm guitarist George McCorkle, the group features a rich flute part by Jerry Eubands. And Toy’s sax-spiced “Walking the Streets Alone” brings an energized, everyone-in-the-spotlight performance that begs to be expanded in concert.
All in all, this is even more sophisticated, diverse, and engaging than the group’s potent last effort. If anyone still thinks Marshall Tucker exists in the shadow of the Allmans, they should give a listen to this package—whose influences range from Chicago blues to pure country to Western swing—and think again.