By Kevin Porter
The Marcus King Band, led by the extraordinarily talented vocalist/guitarist Marcus King, are releasing an EP, Due North, on October 27, 2017 via Fantasy Records. Like the self-titled album released last year, the EP showcases the band’s self-described brand of “soul-influenced psychedelic southern rock.” They are going into the studio this November to record a new album, and Due North tides us over, for those of us who couldn’t wait.
Produced by Warren Haynes, The Marcus King Band is a hybrid of multiple musical styles– the band easily switches from hard blues-rock to jazz and to southern soul. Marcus King’s soulful voice is part of a potent musical stew propelled by a tight band. Mr. King is also a sensational guitarist, and his solos also roam the musical landscape.
A squalling blues-rock guitar opens the first track, “What’s Right,” with the band settling into a hard funk beat after that opening shot of guitar. Think of a mix of Sly Stone and jazz fusion. The second track is a cover of The Marshall Tucker Band’s “This Old Cowboy,” about a cowboy making plans after the end of a romance but reminding his former partner that he has been alone before and can be alone again. I loved Marshall Tucker back in the day, and the Marcus King Band does a very fine rendition, with the easy swing, the bright guitar tone, and the playing off of the guitar with the organ and the horns. I imagine the ghost of Toy Caldwell, the great guitarist with Marshall Tucker, showing his approval.
“Slipback” shows off the soulful side of the Marcus King Band, mixed in with a little funk. A nice saxophone solo graces the middle of the song. Mr. King takes the next solo, starting with some quiet harmonics, then building into a fiery climax with the band in full throttle behind him.