There are some things about Blackfoot Marauder you should know, if this LP were a person:
- It would work on the highways all day long, then drink until 3am in a honky-tonk shack on the outskirts of town, EVEN ON WORK NIGHTS!
- It would definitely kick your ass if you looked at it funny
- It did time in the State Pen at some point*
- It lost its virginity to Foghat
- It keeps its’ cigarettes in the rolled up sleeve of its T-shirt and strikes matches on the heel of its boot
- It could drink you under the table and still be able to show your girl a real good time afterwards
- It would spend all its non-drinking downtime at the track
I think this is a great album, real shit kicking blue-collar hard rock, talk about a perfect LP title! When I bought this back in 1990 I bought it because a) the cool eagle pic on the cover b) a picture in my AC/DC book had members of both bands hanging out together c) it was cheap. AC/DC are thanked in the credits of this 1980 album, Christ can you imagine the pair of them on a bill together? Marauder, hits the deck running with one of my fave hard rock songs full stop, ‘Good Morning’. Talk about straight, no-nonsense brilliance. Medlocke’s sarcastic ‘Good mornin” after the opening verse, about a dude getting kicked out of bed by his no good woman is worth the price of the album alone, easily. The last verse of ‘Good Morning’ is the reason I play this song quite a lot on my morning commute,
Well the sun is up, let’s lift a cup And do it all over again
A little blood and a lot of sweat Hard workin’ ain’t no sin
Don’t sit around wearin’ a frown Your life will slip away
Give a bump and a little hump It’s gonna be a beautiful day
If I were more of a man I’d have the last two lines tattooed across my back in two-inch high lettering. It rocks. The big centrepiece track here ‘Diary Of A Working Man’ is less successful I think, mostly because Medlocke’s voice just doesn’t handle the slower stuff half as well, hence this tale of a hard-done-by man facing a long night of the soul is great in the cranked up sections, less so elsewhere.
Fear not for Marauder really brings the hard rock thunder with next track ‘Too Hard To Handle’. A supercharged riff, some sneaky Latino flavours and some great yowling manly chest-beating, ‘Music made by real men’ as a passing Mrs 1537 just remarked. It all fits this tale of finding/buying love south of the border, ‘Ooh, those chaquitas with incredible thighs’ – indeed. Whereas next track, ‘Fly Away’ has a really interesting poppy edge to it and I have no doubt would sound great on the radio, in some paradise where radio played great tracks like this one. Interestingly, there is a definite melodic link between this track and Lou Reed’s ‘Dirty Boulevard’ – trust me I’m a fully qualified Rock Doctor, honest.
Basically, I don’t need to flog this to death for you do I? you know what you’re getting into now. It doesn’t get much more profound than making that tired old liquor and poker pun (Dry County), telling us that drugs aren’t cool (Fire of the Dragon) and being a country boy (Rattlesnake Rock ‘n’ Roller). But that’s not really the point of music like Marauder is it? this is a great hard rock album for drinking and shaking your head to**, even if it is a bit lyrically preoccupied with women sellin’ it^.
This is the sound of a really good band going full-bore, as good as Ricky Medlocke was, Charlie Hargrett also weighed in with some great scorching lead and rhythm playing, Greg walker and the, wonderfully named, Jackson Spires (surely that has to be a train station somewhere?) formed a really gnarly rhythm section. Three of the four original members were of Native American heritage, hence the name – although none of the three were of Blackfoot extraction.
As you’d expect given where they’re from and the fact that Medlocke was an early and current member of Lynyrd Skynyrd, this is definite Southern rock, albeit harder and faster than most. The closest Marauder comes to that blueprint is in ‘Rattlesnake Rock ‘n’ Roller’ with a banjo intro from Ricky’s 71-year old grandfather Shorty Medlocke^^ and some rather spiffing honky-tonk piano. The only bum note on the album for me is the last track ‘Searchin”, which strives for Southern epic and ends up somewhere in Foreigner territory, before being saved by some rather awesome guitaring towards the end. I like Marauder, quite apart from being a damn good Saturday night listen, just owning it makes me more of an Alpha male just by association.
P.S – my dad saw Ricky Medlocke play a blues set at a small club in Swansea a couple of years ago, just before he re-joined Skynyrd and said he was really excellent.
*I’m SO American! Yee-haa!
**sorry, should be drinkin’ and shakin’ – there seems to have been a bit of a ‘G’ famine back in Jacksonville, Florida around 1980.
^not entirely sure what ‘it’ refers to (they could have done with sleevenotes here for British listeners), maybe Tupperware? Greetings cards?
^^don’t make names like that any more do they?