Review Summary: Savory hard rock album drenched in Southern Rock style
It is wise counsel to 'Never judge an album by the cover', but I must confess in my adolescence I have bought several albums just because the cover art seemed so 'cool'. Back in 1983 I stumbled upon a record from a band by the name of Blackfoot and I liked the cover art immediately. Having heard some likeable live songs on the Dutch radio I decided to buy the album 'Marauder', not knowing what to expect exactly. It didn't disappoint me and soon Marauder became one of the favorites in my growing metal collection. Although the sound on this record is pretty heavy occasionally, the classification 'heavy metal' does not cover the character of it. Blackfoot play eclectic southern rock with influences from rock 'n roll and blues, Mexican folk music and hard rock. On Marauder they carry out their task very well.
Blackfoot were founded around 1970. The name of the band refers to the American Indian heritage of most of the members. After a period of line up changes and temporarily disbanding the group, vocalist/guitar player Rickey Medlocke established a solid line up that generated some public attention and approval, on the basis of a severe touring schedule and the release of some well received southern rock albums ('Strikes' in 1979 and 'Tomcattin''in 1980). Marauder followed next year, shifting the direction to a more hard rock oriented approach, but still steadily rooted in southern rock and blues. Medlocke was the heart and soul of the band, not only the singer and guitar player, but also the chief song writer. In the early Seventies he became a provisional member of the legendary Lynyrd Skynyrd, rejoining in 1996. This album proves Medlocke's maturated capacities as a singer and guitar player.
The 'classic' line up of the band was:
Rickey Medlocke - lead vocals, guitar
Charlie Hargrett - guitar
Greg T. Walker - bass guitar, keyboards, vocals
Jakson Spires - drums, percussion, vocals
Best songs of the album
The electrifying opening track 'Good Morning' is a heavy, fast paced wake up call! Medlocke's characteristic dark, raspy voice and the irony-laden lyrics fit the song well. The guitar section including a fine solo is stunning. An impressive way to open an album!
'Diary of a Working Man'is a beautiful ballad, starting with clean guitar chords and delicate, melancholic singing, evolving into a heart-piercing, mind-blowing lamentation. Great vocal performance by Medlocke.
'Dry County' is another stomping hard rock song, heavy and vivacious as a locomotive.
'Fire of the Dragon' is an impressive semi ballad dealing with cocaine addiction. Clean guitar arpeggios alternate with heavy distorted riffs, creating one of the highlights of the album. Medlocke's affective, thundering voice accompanies the growing wall of sound to the climax. This song is comparable to the equally powerful semi ballad 'Searchin''
'Rattlesnake Rock 'n Roller' starts off with an amusing banjo intro and a comment in southern dialect by the grandfather of Rickey Medlocke: Shorty Medlocke. Then a Rock 'n roll wall of sound is erected, glorifying country life (thank God I'm a country boy) and introducing piano and saxophone in the solo.
Marauder is a fine hard rocking album with a southern feeling, reminding of Lynyrd Skynyrd and ZZ Top, but definitely heavier. The album contains some outstanding songs (mentioned above) along with a few (still savory) fillers and attempts at commercial hit success. In my opinion the most charming aspect of Marauder is the variety in song writing and the surprising orchestration (use of saxophone, banjo, Mexican horns, piano and Latin rhythms). Medlocke's skills as a vocalist and guitar player are impressively showcased on this album. Although Medlocke tried to reanimate Blackfoot over and over through the years, they never established a permanent status.