Walk Outside the Lines, circa 1993, was the band's second release on the Cabin Fever label.  It is the Tucker Boys most commercial release, in a country sense, of any of their albums.  Recorded in Nashville, it was produced by Doug Gray and Jerry Eubanks and engineered by longtime collaborator Billy Sherrill, with assistance from Rusty Milner.  While Walk Outside the Lines lacks the trademark Tucker jams that we're accustomed to, it symbolizes the maturation and growth of the band, particularly by Tim, Rusty and Stuart Swanlund.

From L - R standing: Tim Lawter, Paul Thompson, Ron Radofrd, Gary Guzzardo, and Rusty Milner
Seated L - R: Doug Gray and Jerry Eubanks

The CD gets a jump-start from the beginning with "Walk Outside the Lines," a tune co-written by Garth Brooks and Charley Stefl.  Released as both a single and video, it received considerable airplay on country radio stations and video channels.  The video, which is still plays occasionally on Dance Ranch, features the boys and a chorus of line dancers.  The song is an infectious ditty about the frustration of suburban life, traffic jams, and the need to kick your heels every once in awhile.  With Doug's upbeat vocals centered around a fiddle, it's hard not to cut the rug to this song.

Tim Lawter's paean to his father, "Daddy's Eyes," slows down the tempo considerably.  It is a reflective song about a child dealing with the realization that his father is aging, and is both somber and poignant.

"If That Isn't Love" is a simple song that questions the definition of love. Co-written by Doug and Tim, this song features a dobro and an ending riff reminiscent of "Virginia" on Searchin' For A Rainbow.   A gem from the CD is "Down We Go," which was also released as a single and video on country formats, about an imperiled relationship and the hardships associated with its demise.  The video, filmed in black and white, catches the mood perfectly.

The theme turns more optimistic with "She's Waiting," which deals with the frustrations of a woman whose love interest fails to meet her needs. Jerry's sax and a guitar solo at he interlude seem to empathize with the lady's frustration. 

"Miss You" is a soulful and upbeat song about the yearning for a romance from days gone by.  "Daddy Never Knew," a funky tune that features a slide guitar, tells the story about a son confronting the tribulations of love and the misgivings of his father's advice. 

The next two songs were both penned by Rusty.  The first finds the storyteller acknowledging that, while he fondly recalls the good times of a love-gone-wrong, he'll also be "Alright Without You."  The next is about a man confronting the doubts he has in his relationship, yet not wanting to be "The First One to Say Goodbye."  Both songs, considering their themes, are unusually optimistic and feature Jerry's classic sax work.

The CD closes out with the standout cut "Lost in Time."  Written by Doug and Rusty, it is a painful look back at a young man whose "number was called" for the Vietnam War and the desolation he faces upon his return.  Guitar solos and Doug's strong vocal performance drive home the anger and frustration that torments this veteran.

This release marks an evolution for the band, particularly in the songwriting of Tim and Rusty.  It also indicates that they will be a vital force for years to come, offering innovative and relevant material, rather than merely capitalizing on the success of their past. 

Walk Outside the Lines is a solid Marshall Tucker Band release, featuring heart-felt lyrics, fine musicianship and incredible vocals from Doug Gray.  Had it been released by a major record label  with the financing to market it appropriately, I believe this CD would have catapulted the band to the forefront of country music.

                                                                                    - Craig Cumberland   


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