01- Let Me Be The Fool
Doug Gray : vocals
Let's say clearly : to enjoy this very short recording (less than 25 min for eight songs), you have to come back in 1981, when it was recorded. A lot of synths, Allen Collins is quite a living dead after his wife's death, and ZZ Top Deguello is not so successful than their former record. Molly Hatchet is asking some questions about Jimmy Farrar, John O'Daniel leaves Point Blank and the Allman Brothers Band is going to disband. So we can go on but everybody has understood that our favourite music best musicians are not at their best and Southern Rock is a little bit out of date.
The Marshall Tucker Band is at the same point and get some problems to solve the departure of the Capricorn Records team and the loss of Tommy Caldwell. So we can feel here a commercial inclination and Doug Gray, coming to Nashville, is happy to join this musical project which is close to his favourite musical influences. With some musicians of the MTB and some next members (Ronnie Godfrey et Rusty Milner), Doug began to record some songs that can match in this difficult musical period. Just some time later, he was back in the Marshall Tucker Band and unfortunately these recordings have been lost… until today where they are back at the same moment than the MTB Greatest Hits.
First, I can tell you that unfortunately the context of the moment is clearly apparent in this songs, even if Doug is at his best and the titles are not so bad. The pop-soul orientation of the production is a real problem for the power and the authenticity of the recordings. There is a real lack of power, and it's too close of the radio commercial musical inclination. Too much commercial tendencies kill the authenticity. After the very good "Who", a real good song with a female choir in spite of artificial synthesizers sounds. Thirty years later, sounds are better now and on this album, they really are old-fashioned, like on this period recordings. It's really obvious on "Don't Blame It On The Rain" with such so bad keyboards and false violins parts.
All the record is in the same style, too many slow moments of Doug voice. It even looks like Sade on "Sandman" deserved by the saxophone, and all the ballads are in the same way, even if "Still Thinking Of You" has a good female support. Some songs are pleasant to listen to, like the first one "Let Me Be The Fool" with Doug particular way of singing and good saxophone parts, "Guilty" with funky guitars and organ, close to a real soul music. We just can regret that the heavy "More Today Than Yesterday" is a little bit too short, and that the funny "Never Enough" is played with false drums. This record issued at this period could have been well received, but now the sound is really too old-fashioned !
However, some titles are good songs, well sung, well played, with a historical interest, but the orchestration and the production are really too old now to convince us. It's pity because we could have dreamed of the album Doug could be able to do with the will to get back to soul music roots. The way he sings is good and can seduce many fans. If you want to know about the "Soul Of The South" you'd better listen to Wet Willie or the last Warren Haynes.