Album of the Week 30-2013: Blackfoot – Marauder


Categorizing Blackfoot as a Southern Rock band always seemed kind of a strange idea. Sure, these guys were from Jacksonville, Florida like Lynyrd Skynyrd and Molly Hatchet, but apart from the occasional banjo or slide riff, Blackfoot was truly a Hardrock band at heart. Closer in sound to Thin Lizzy than Skynyrd. Regardless of what you choose to name this genre-wise, singer/guitarist Ricky Medlocke and drummer Jakson Spires were a brilliant songwriting duo. And as Hardrock songwriters, ‘Marauder’ was truly their finest hour. A muscular Rock record with strong hooks and riffing that will get your blood pumping.

Not that the predecessors of ‘Marauder’ weren’t good; ‘Strikes’, the most “Southern” sounding of their classic albums, had some amazing songs and ‘Tomcattin” found the band truly coming into their own, but ‘Marauder’ isn’t the epitome of Blackfoot’s classic period without reason. The riffs rock harder, the choruses are more anthemic, the variation on the album doesn’t sacrifice any of its punch and all the band members simply sound the best they have ever done. In addition, this is the best collection of songs Blackfoot (and possibly any band labelled Southern Rock) has ever done.

Absolute highlight of the album – coincidentally the song that drew me to Blackfoot in the first place – is the heartbreaking tale of desperation that is ‘Diary Of A Workingman’, a Rock ballad which is as such only surpassed by ‘Stairway To Heaven’, to which it is fairly similar in structure. Also, note how good the acoustic guitars sound here. ‘Searchin” is the other fantastic power ballad, but the rockers here do as much justice to the album. ‘Good Morning’ is the perfect opening track both musically and lyrically, the stomping ‘Dry County’ is the closest the band ever got to Heavy Metal, ‘Fly Away’ is a fantastic, catchy Rock tune and ‘Fire Of The Dragon’ a dynamic and heartfelt drug elegy.

‘Marauder’ has relatively little departures from the Rock sound of the band. ‘Rattlesnake Rock ‘n’ Roller’ has a banjo intro courtesy of Rickey Medlocke’s grandfather Shorty Medlocke, but turns into an energetic Hardrocker and the awesome ‘Too Hard To Handle’ has a Mexican-styled trumpet solo. But then again, the band does so well here, that these unconventional bits aren’t really needed to impress. The guitars of Medlocke and Charlie Hargrett tear through everything, Greg T. Walker provides some good melodic bass lines and while Spires will never make the favorites list of any Fusion-freak, he has a power that is matched by very few colleagues.

In the end, it doesn’t matter what you choose to label ‘Marauder’, the simple fact that it’s one of the best collections of songs ever released. There simply isn’t one song on here that is any less impressive than the rest and that alone should have made Blackfoot bigger than many of their contemporaries. Rickey Medlocke’s charisma should have taken care of the rest. Management and record label decisions prevented that, but ‘Marauder’ is a blazing example of how amazing Southern Rock can be when stripped of its over-the-top melodrama.

Recommended tracks: ‘Diary Of A Workingman’, ‘Too Hard To Handle’, ‘Dry County’

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