Carl Marshall (21st Century)
Daddy B. Nice's #27 ranked Southern Soul Artist
"Good Loving Will Make You Cry"
Carl Marshall (21st Century)
Composed by Carl Marshall
September 12, 2015: Re-Posted from Daddy B. Nice's New CD Reviews
April 8, 2015:
CARL MARSHALL: Love Brings Me Back To You (CDS/Music Access) Four Stars **** Distinguished effort. Should please old fans and gain new.Carl Marshall's new album, LOVE BRINGS ME BACK TO YOU, should instantly disarm even the most critical of Marshall's detractors. Not much minimalist keyboard funk, no "Good Lovin'" retreads. This is popular music, inviting and lush, arranged with loving care right down to the special musical tweaks and female background singing.
In fact, Track 1, Frank-O Johnson's "(This Must Be A) Cheating Town" sounds so immediately familiar you'd swear it was an old Carl Marshall tune. (It isn't; I looked.) But it's actually more fleshed-out than Marshall's music has been in a long time, and pretty close to irresistible.
"Sugar," the second track, is the same, so accessible and popular-sounding with its commercial-sounding harmonica phrase that you want to bob your head and hit the dance floor with a slow, sexy shuffle and dance to the Carl Marshall grown folks music in a way you haven't in years.
Ironically, Marshall has dipped into his back-catalog (from SONGS PEOPLE LOVE THE MOST) in choosing the first single from the new CD, "From The Church To The Motel." It's the most conservative choice he could have made, generic and derivative of his earlier work, and a tune with which his fans will certainly be familiar. But the best material on the album are the cuts that surprise listeners with their new energy and fresh arrangements.
Marshall suffered a stroke in 2012, and he's kept a low profile since the hospitalization, absenting himself from his former extensive production chores at CDS Records, where he is now a vice-president. It was anyone's guess if and how he would come back. "I Owe It All To The Blues," Daddy B. Nice's first charted single from the album (#6 April 2015), finds the rejuvenated Marshall tearing it up on guitar (his "woman"), part-Albert King and part-Jimi Hendrix.
"I've never been loved
The way I felt I should have..."
...Carl sings with a bluesy swagger only he or Bobby Rush could get away with. The wild guitar runs seem to free him like a phoenix rising, and when he double-tracks his voice in harmony, the song goes celestial.
"The Walk (Like A Soldier)" sounds like fairly routine Carl Marshall New Orleans funk until--again--Carl surprises you with a little "You're-in-the-army-now" phrase that makes the tune downright delightful. This is the kind of musical elaboration and depth Marshall didn't have the wherewithal to achieve during busier, perhaps more harried times. Jamonte Black (I believe that's her singing background) also elevates her vocals. "I'm Tired Of Missing You" is another straight-ahead ballad that illustrates Marshall's commitment to heartfelt vocals and sophisticated arrangements.
Not all of the tracks on the set warrant this kind of effusive criticism. The title track, Love Me Brings Me Back To You," is the kind of druggy-sounding, bargain-basement New Orleans funk with which Sly Stone jettisoned his career long before Carl hit his creative stride. Why Carl believes this "downer" funk is most representative of his oeuvre, your Daddy B. Nice will never know.
Good Marshall friend Rue Davis shows up on a mostly throw-away stepping exercise called "Laughing and Stepping," and Marshall redoes the simplistic "Wind It Up" yet again, gathering no kudos in the process. "I Wanna Know What Kind Of Love You've Got" and "Ladies Know Your Worth" are okay, plenty familiar, but nothing special.
But even the most marginal tunes on this very generous, twelve-track set are executed with the professionalism of an engaged and re-focused songwriter/producer. The songs are both a reminder of how unique an artist Carl Marshall is and how far into our heads he's gotten. Simply put, there's no one doing what Carl Marshall does--and no one who sounds like him. It's good to have him back.
--Daddy B. Nice
Sample/Buy Carl Marshall's LOVE BRINGS ME BACK TO YOU CD at CD Universe.
Daddy B. Nice's Artist Guide to Carl Marshall
March 30, 2015: NEW ALBUM ALERT!
Sample/Buy Carl Marshall's LOVE BRINGS ME BACK TO YOU CD at CD Universe.
Listen to Carl Marshall singing "I Owe It All To The Blues" on YouTube.
Daddy B. Nice Reviews the CD ("Disguished Effort, 4 stars")....See NEW CD REVIEWS.
Note: Carl Marshall also appears on Daddy B. Nice's original Top 100 Southern Soul Artists (90's-00's). The "21st Century" after Carl Marshall's name in the headline is to distinguish his artist-guide entries on this page from his artist-guide page on Daddy B. Nice's original chart.
To automatically link to Carl Marshall's charted radio singles, awards, CD's and other citations and references on the website, go to "Marshall, Carl" in Daddy B. Nice's Comprehensive Index.
Daddy B. Nice's Updated Profile:
October 12, 2012:
I queued up "Sho' Wasn't Me" by Ronnie Lovejoy back-to-back with Carl Marshall's "Good Loving Will Make You Cry." "Sho' Wasn't Me" sounded fresh and magnificent, as it almost always does, and to its credit, Carl Marshall's "Good Loving Will Make You Cry"--although a definite step down--also sounded fine, holding its own in the integrity department.
I think we all wish Carl Marshall would record another original song of "Good Lovin's" stature.
Listen to Carl Marshall singing "Good Loving Will Make You Cry" Live on YouTube while you read.
"Your songs usually have a funky groove," your Daddy B. Nice said to Carl in a 2009 interview with the artist, "but 'Good Loving' is an exception. It's almost country."
"You're right. You know, I lived in Nashville for fifteen years, Daddy."
"Really. When, exactly?"
"Late seventies, early eighties," Carl said. "That's where I honed a lot of my production skills."
Marshall hasn't done anything remotely country-inflected since "Good Lovin,'" in spite of his acknowledgement of the song's importance to his career. The "country" in "Good Loving Will Make You Cry" gave the song a musicality.
Musicality--melody, bridges, tempo and contrast-- are what's lacking in the minimalist, funk-oriented work into which Marshall has retreated since the song's success.
Seen in retrospect (for a closer examination of the song, go to Daddy B. Nice's Original Artist Guide to Carl Marshall), "Good Lovin'" appears to be the culmination of Carl Marshall's "Southern Soul sound." What's so refreshing about the song is how Marshall's thoroughly pushy and preachy fronting finds its perfect foil in the mattress-like softness of the "Good Lovin'" melody.
Suddenly all the revival-tent attitude makes sense. There's plenty of psychological room to stretch out in the ample arms of the song's sentimental story. Which brings up the song's other major endearment: its theme--it's story line--of the cause/effect of sexual fulfillment with tears.
When Marshall, on the other hand, solely focuses on the familiar old New Orleans funk riffs of the 80's and 90's, the familiar mannerisms and characters--a woman's advocate, a preacher, a philosopher, a psychiatrist, a missionary, a dispenser of universal love--return. To be all those things you've got to be something of a con man, too.
In "Reap What You Sow" (one of Marshall's best vintage ballads) Carl says:
"I have a friend and her name is Jane. Jane had a little situation she was dealing with, and she came to talk to me about it. She said, 'Mr. Carl, I respect you as a man with much wisdom, and I want to know, could you give me your point of view on something I'm faced with.'"
Carl Marshall demands that he be seen as a "man with much wisdom," a soul-man's version of a guru. There's nothing wrong with that, of course, but it chops off a lot of thematic musical territory--no posing as "Mr. Jody" ala Marvin Sease or "I'm Guilty" ala Sir Charles Jones, for example.
Carl Marshall demands respect in his songs, and it is always himself in the position of authority. He is never the vulnerable one, he is never at fault. His persona is also his agenda and goes beyond music into a kind of thirst for power characteristic of great leaders.
I say "always" and "never" but actually your Daddy B. Nice's favorite Carl Marshall songs are the exceptions to this autocratic I'm-in-charge Marshall rule.
In addition to "Good Lovin,'" in which Carl is completely convincing in plumbing the raw emotion of his "friend's" vulnerability, there is "Jingle My Bell," admittedly a funk tune, but a rootsy, unvarnished one in which Marshall is willing to say he's just like the rest of us. He just wants to "jingle his bell." The song isn't far from being "Sledgehammer" elemental.
Then there is "I've Lived It All," a rare early song in which Marshall talks about his hard times in the first person. The song is a masterpiece, full of even more creative arranging than "Good Lovin,'" which itself is very good--and far superior to his funk-minimalist work.
"I was lonely, hungry, broke.
Didn't have any hope.
Doors closed in my face.
Friends I thought I had
Made me feel so bad.
"Sometimes I couldn't pay my rent.
When I got a little money,
It was already spent.
I had to go pay
All the debts I owed,
So my friends would loan me some more.
Nobody can tell me
Nothing about rough times
'Cause I believe
I lived it all."
One of the things that has complicated Carl Marshall's career is the impact he has made as the in-house producer for CDS Records. Marshall has made so many records over the last few years in his now-trademark style: funk vehicles, whether slow or fast, thumb-pressing keyboard runs, synthetic brass fills and urban-inflected background vocals. (By Jamonte Black and very different from the more country-sounding female background on "Good Lovin'.")
In effect, this Carl Marshall James Brown-via-The Meters sound has saturated the Southern Soul market, not only on Marshall's own records but those of the young CDS artists for whom he has served as virtual mentor. Combined with Marshall's indefatigable production of his own solo albums and samplers, almost always with material plumbed from his own deep well of funk compositions, his emphasis on a New Orleans-derived sound and his exclusion of the softer country and gospel sounds of mainstream Southern Soul have polarized much of his audience, creating a backlash among many critics and fans.
Where will Carl Marshall go from here? Will he ever return to the fuller, softer sound of "Good Loving Will Make You Cry" or the country-funky, surprisingly varied arrangements of his production of Arthur Foy's "I'm Not Ready (Don't Stop My Party)" or his own triumphantly-arranged, "Howl"-like "I Lived It All"?
Stay tuned, watch the stage, because Carl Marshall is sure to be one of the actors treading the boards in the coming decade.
As far as the Bigg Robb vs. Carl Marshall debate on whose version of "Good Lovin'" is better, Marshall's original or Bigg Robb's "Remix," Bigg Robb's is unquestionably better, losing nothing of Marshall's original (including Carl's vocal) and surrounding it with a brilliant and inventive framework.
But admitting that does not take anything away from Marshall--in fact it strengthens him. Moreover, Marshall continues to put out powerful albums, as witnessed by Daddy B. Nice's own reviews of Marshall's last two important discs:
Scroll down to Tidbits #7 CD REVIEW, May 4, 2009, CARL MARSHALL: Look Good For You (CDS) Four Stars **** Distinguished effort. Should please old fans and gain new...
And Tidbits #9 CD REVIEW, June 20, 2010: CARL MARSHALL: Love Who You Wanna Love (CDS) Five Stars ***** Can't Miss. Pure Southern Soul Heaven, in Daddy B. Nice's Original Artist Guide to Carl Marshall.
Marshall's gulf-coast funk-soul remains as potent as ever, all of a piece, and at its best mesmerizing. It's not Southern Soul--it's an outpost of Southern Soul.
Finally, on the debate about which performer--Bigg Robb or Carl Marshall--came up with the "grown folks" phrase first, your Daddy B. Nice will come down on Carl Marshall's behalf. Carl was singing about "grown folks" way back when, in the dark ages before mobile phones.
To read Daddy B. Nice's far-ranging 2009 interview with Carl Marshall, go to Tidbits #6, April 12, 2009: DADDY B. NICE INTERVIEWS CARL MARSHALL.
--Daddy B. Nice
About Carl Marshall (21st Century)
Carl Marshall was born on March 28, 1950 in Independence, Louisiana. In a 2009 interview with Daddy B. Nice (see Daddy B. Nice's Original Artist Guide to Carl Marshall, scroll down to Tidbits #6) Marshall stated: "My mom and dad separated when I was little, so I split time growing up between my mom in New Orleans and my dad in a small town."
Song's Transcendent Moment
"A young man I know
If You Liked. . . You'll Love
If you liked The Love Doctor's "Slow Roll It," you'll love Carl Marshall's "Good Loving Will Make You Cry."
Honorary "B" Side
"I Lived It All"
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