Johnnie Marshall

Live for Today

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Marshall's debut album is like the baseball legend about the back-woods farmboy who goes straight from the farm to pitch in the World Series. Marshall was just a local Florida phenom when he was discovered by Johnny Rawls, who produced this album. Rawls puts together a solid band with a punchy horn section to frame things nicely behind Marshall, but it's young Marshall who's the real star here. Showing off a style that has more than one flavor to it, Marshall negotiates the T-Bone Walker-styled blues of "4 O'Clock in the Morning," the funk-rock blues of "Live for Today" and the soulful strut of "Dave's C.C. Groove" (a salute to his old stomping grounds) with ease and flair, his playing always economical and to the point. Rawls' voice, unfortunately, isn't quite the limber piece of equipment his guitar work is, but it's not embarrassing either, eschewing vocal gymnastics for a more understated approach. As debuts go, this is more impressive than most.

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