Marcus - s/t. 1976 USA
CD issues: 2000 Zoom Club (UK); 2007 Krescendo (UK); 2008 Majestic Rock (UK); 2014 Rock Candy (UK)
In the record collecting world, there is rare, unknown, and obscure. No album better demonstrates the latter like Marcus' sole album. I've been at this racket for 35 years, and it's only recently that I even heard of the album. No doubt I passed over this LP hundreds of times at record stores and fairs since the 1980s. With an album cover like that, it just didn't appear to be anything that would be in my interest area. But once I got the scent, and did a bit of research (include right c'here), it was clear this is something I needed to secure for the collection. With a recent and inexpensive CD reissue on Rock Candy, off to Amazon I went, and here we are.
Marcus (the band) is definitely an example of lightning strikes once. Bandleader Marcus Malone was already a known entity, having joined a late era Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels lineup as lead singer. His band was gaining strength as they played in the more known clubs throughout the Midwest, especially in hometown Detroit, and nearby Chicago. Eventually none other than Ike Turner discovered the band, had them signed up to United Artists, and flew them out to Los Angeles to party (and presumably record an album). The label and studio insisted on some lineup changes as well (including Cactus' Tim Bogert on bass), and that's how they ended up with the unusual 3 guitar lineup.
With that setup alone, I wouldn't have expected much to be honest. But the reality is far different. Marcus predicted the oncoming hard rock and heavy metal movements. And he (Malone) had a personal love for progressive rock. All of those ingredients found their way into this recording. For 1976, on a mainstream label like UA, this album was doomed to be a cult classic from the get. Apparently the Europeans caught wind of it a few months after release (long after Turner and the label had lost interest in their new toy), but it was all too a-day-late-and-a-dollar-short.
There are no weak tracks here, though not every song is a winner either. But for fans of mid 70s hard rock, it's a bulls-eye. The finale 'Rise Unto Falcon' is the song that most demonstrates Marcus' prog rock interests, with loads of mellotron to boot. Predictably that was my favorite of the batch, as I never seem to tire of that unique blend of hard rock meets progressive sound.
History tells us that even if Marcus had survived this recording and made another, it wouldn't be anything similar. It would have been highly likely that funk, soul, pop, or disco would have been forced onto the band, and they would have ultimately disintegrated anyway. That tale has been told numerous times. Perhaps it's best Marcus went out on their own terms, with an album (and name) highly revered 40 years after the fact.