With so many decades in the rear-view mirror since the Marshall Tucker Band became a part of the classic rock canon, it's easy to forget that they were once a raw, rough-and-tumble bunch of Southern rock upstarts sporting edge and expertise in equal amounts. This archival live document, finally unearthed 27 years after its recording, captures the band in its earliest, most unvarnished phase, playing at San Francisco's legendary Winterland just months after the release of its debut album. It also serves as a reminder that in the Southern rock scheme of things, the Marshall Tucker Band were more in line with the jazzier/funkier moments of the early Allman Brothers and Charlie Daniels than the greasy, bluesy grind of the Lynyrd Skynyrd school (though blues is still a major component of their sound here). Unsurprisingly, most of the first album's tunes are on the set list here, plus a couple that would turn up on the next, and a cover of Memphis Slim's "Everyday I Have the Blues." Things kick off with a concise blast of good-time country hoedown vibes on "Hillbilly Band," but in short order, "Another Cruel Love" lights out for territory not far removed from Van Morrison's early-‘70s swinging R&B sound, and "Take the Highway" offers up a flute solo (stop and think about that; how many other Southern rockers had a featured flutist?) over a jammy jazz-funk workout. It's endearing to hear the iconic "Can't You See" introduced with the words "This is the single…hope you dig it," and the country-rock side of the band is given further play on the pedal steel-bedecked "See You Later, I'm Gone." The Marshall Tucker Band were not immune to the excesses of the era, as evinced by their 14-minute version of the aforementioned blues tune, essentially a Toy Caldwell guitar showcase, but by the time they close things out with "Ramblin'," a jumping, R&B-inflected tune complete with honking tenor sax solo, you're prepared to forgive them for the occasional overindulgence.
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AllMusic Review by James Allen