This fairly self-explanatory double-disc compilation gathers 27 sides from '70s Southern rock staples the Marshall Tucker Band. With a blend of intricate jamming and straight-ahead guitar-driven rock & roll, the MTB were among the predecessors to the success of their Capricorn labelmates -- the Allman Brothers Band, Cowboy, and Sea Level. They also incorporated elements of jazz, folk, and country to create a unique and original sound that effortlessly crossed genres, yet never strayed too far away from their decidedly down-home essence. The MTB only scored a handful of hits -- such as "Heard It in a Love Song," "Take the Highway," "Can't You See," and "Fire on the Mountain" -- which of course are represented here. However, the seven long-players that featured the incipient incarnation(s) of the MTB reveal a synergy among bandmates Doug Gray (vocals), Toy Caldwell (guitar/vocals), his brother Tommy Caldwell (bass/vocals), George McCorkle (guitar), Paul Riddle (drums), and Jerry Eubanks (flute/sax/vocals).
Their laid-back ethos hung equally on the band's diversity of styles and skills. Toy Caldwell's prowess as a guitar player stretches beyond that of a standard acoustic and electric picker. Tracks such as "See You Later, I'm Gone" and "Virginia" show off his amazing depth as a steel guitarist as well. The deep and somewhat reverential twang that commences "Fire on the Mountain" harks back to the roots of the MTB's high and lonesome bluegrass origins. Then, mix in Eubanks' light and airy reed work for a truly liberating experience that is also distinctly American. The Best of the Marshall Tucker Band: The Capricorn Years (1994) features examples of the combo's loose instrumental jamming on "In My Own Way," "A New Life," and the 13-plus minute live rendering of "24 Hours at a Time." This cut definitely rivaled the Lynyrd Skynyrd epic "Free Bird" or the Allmans' "Whipping Post" for spin time on many FM album rock radio stations, back when they were still spinning LPs. This collection features several "45 versions" -- which may best serve the burgeoning or casual enthusiast. However, diehards will want to seek out the full-length renderings of "Can't You See," "This Ol' Cowboy," "Searchin' for a Rainbow," and "Long Hard Ride." The accompanying 26-page booklet is replete with discographical and biographical information as well some black-and-white photos. The Best of the Marshall Tucker Band: The Capricorn Years is a good place for all interested parties to begin.