Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Marshall Tucker Band's Doug Gray 'Sells Soul' This Spring



Gray Unveils Never Before Released 30-year-old R&B Recordings,

Soul Of The South, On April 5

Nashville, Tenn (March 8, 2011) - Dedicated fans and friends of the Marshall Tucker Band have always heard a touch of the soul man in Doug Gray’s voice. From the band’s beginnings into the present day, his singing has tempered the group’s country leanings with a bluesy edge. Largely unknown even to MTB’s hard-core followers, Gray actually cut tracks for a solo album nearly 30 years ago that fully explored his affinity for R&B. These recordings finally see the light of day on April 5, 2011, with the release of Soul Of The South.

“In 1981 I was offered the opportunity to sign a solo record deal by top music executives to sing Pop and Soul songs which were very popular at the time. I loved singing these types of songs as I had been singing them for years going back to when I was a young boy in the early sixties. I was really into singers like Sam Cooke, Smokey Robinson and later, Al Green,” recalls Gray. “When [MTB lead guitarist] Toy Caldwell and I used to go out and listen to music, we’d always look for places that had rhythm and blues. That was the kind of stuff I did before we started The Marshall Tucker Band.”

“The Marshall Tucker Band was then signed to Warner Brothers and Tommy Caldwell had recently died in a car crash. The band was in between records so I had the time and I owned the studio so I recorded these soul songs and all the guys came in to help out as well as some other musician friends. I really felt good about the results but stopped short of completing a full album because it was time to do another MTB record and I felt a loyalty to the group so I put the tapes away, turned down the solo deal and continued with the band and never looked back until now. These songs are important because they are the only songs by the five living members of the band at that time that have never been released. They may not be your typical MTB songs written by Toy Caldwell but I think it shows how good the band was to come in and work on songs that were out of character and get the results we did,” Gray says with a smile.

As co-owner of Creative Arts Studio in his hometown of Spartanburg, South Carolina, Gray was in a good position to work on a solo project in his spare time. He enlisted the help of engineer Billy Sherrill and a host of Nashville publishers in rounding up the right material to record. Out of a stack of 300 demos, he ended up choosing seven tunes by songwriters both famous and lesser known. Rounding out the song list was a spirited cover of the Spiral Staircase’s 1969 hit “More Today Than Yesterday.” Gray notes, “I recorded that song because Billy Sherrill bet me I couldn’t hit the high notes.”

Gray’s band mates were happy to help lay down tracks at Creative Arts. Original Marshall Tucker members Toy Caldwell, George McCorkle, Paul Riddle and Jerry Eubanks all took part in the sessions, along with bassist Franklin Wilkie (who joined the band after the tragic death of Tommy Caldwell in 1980) and pianist Ronnie Godfrey. Also contributing to the Creative Arts sessions were such gifted Spartanburg-area players as keyboardist Michael Blithe and Rusty Milner who later replaced Toy Caldwell in the mid ’80s. After the basic tracks were completed, Gray and Sherrill finished up recording in Nashville, enlisting A-list players like bassist Bob Wray (known for his work with Ray Charles, B.B. King and other legends), keyboardist Mike Lawler (a veteran of sessions with everyone from the Allman Brothers to George Jones) and Terry McMillan on percussion.

Gray had reason to feel proud of the results. From aching ballads like “Still Thinking Of You” (co-written by star-to-be Michael Bolton) and “Don’t Blame It On The Rain” to funky upbeat tunes like “Never Enough” and “Who,” the tracks allow Gray to wail and testify with abandon. The after-hours elegance of “Sandman” contrasts nicely with the moody atmosphere of “Guilty” and the percolating groove of “Let Me Be The Fool.” Any number of these tunes might have scored high on the charts if they had been released as singles.

The release of Soul Of The South restores a missing chapter to the Marshall Tucker story. The band, by the time of these recordings, had several gold and platinum albums, hit singles and were one of the top concert draws of the seventies and early eighties. Playing and recording a wide variety of Rock, Country, Blues, Jazz and Pop songs in its own unique style, there was no one else like them. Beyond its historical value, this album is a prime slice of vintage Southern Soul, delivered straight from the heart.

In addition to Soul Of The South, in celebration of its 40th anniversary, the Marshall Tucker Band will release The Marshall Tucker Band: Greatest Hits on April 5, 2011. The 14-track album includes MTB fan favorites including “Can’t You See,” “Heard It In A Love Song,” “Take The Highway” and “24 Hours At A Time.”

For additional information on Doug Gray and the Marshall Tucker Band, visit http://www.marshalltuckerband.com/

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Soul Of The South Track Listing:

1. Let Me Be The Fool

2. Who

3. Sandman

4. Guilty

5. Don't Blame It On The Rain

6. Never Enough

7. Still Thinking Of You

8. More Today Than Yesterday

The Marshall Tucker Band: Greatest Hits Track Listing:

1. Take The Highway

2. Blue Ridge Mountain Sky

3. In My Own Way

4. Fire On The Mountain

5. Heard It In A Love Song

6. Ramblin'

7. Searchin' For A Rainbow

8. I Should Have Never Started Lovin' You

9. 24 Hours At A Time

10. Long Hard Ride

11. Can't You See

12. Too Stubborn

13. This Ol' Cowboy

14. Desert Skies

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