Marcus Singletary is a singer-songwriter and producer whose tunes mostly consist of positive affirmations. Some feature him on all instruments. Often, he leads an ace backing band that adds spicy Latin percussion, lush vocal harmonies, and a vibrant horn section in a manner similar to '70s rock bands like BS&T, Rare Earth, and Chicago. While Marcus hails from the Windy City, in LA, he has performed at venues including the House of Blues, Whisky a Go-Go, and Viper Room. Musical sidemen have included former Doobie Brother Chet McCracken on drums, Cliff Starbuck of Ekoostik Hookah on bass, and Vincent Unto from '70s disco group Executive Suite on background vocals.
His first two solo albums were released in 2004. Of the first, The Marcus Singletary Band (on which Singletary formed a one-man group similar to John Fogerty's Blue Ridge Rangers), Mish Mash Music Reviews wrote, "Marcus Singletary is a guitar wizard who slings his electric blues around like an old-time master. The songs are ripped, roaring and mean, just like the blues should be...The talent is there for sure. If you eat and breathe the blues, you need to check this guy out immediately." Later that year, Capitol Hill appeared. An early Singletary concept album, Jason Scales of Illinois Entertainer said, "Political-social commentary and a firm belief in the power of positive thinking punctuate Marcus Singletary’s ''Capitol Hill''. Dreamy, jam-based blues largely carries the message, including this line from 'Super Tuesday': 'Are you better off now than you were four years ago? / It's time for a change." Philip Stone of Splendid chimed in: "Marcus Singletary plays blues-influenced classic rock not unlike Cream or Steve Miller. This particular breed of rock lends itself to a lot of soloing and intra-band jamming, and as expected, all of Singletary's songs eventually break down into extended guitar, harmonica or organ solos. What's strange is that Singletary plays all of the instruments. While lots of musicians have done this before, I don't recall any examples of artists actually jamming with themselves...Singletary has skills out the gills: his voice has the right attitude, his guitar playing is sharp, and any guitarist who can hold a beat behind the drums deserves some props."
The 2006 Rocks compilation encapsulated this era perfectly. Peter Aaron of Chronogram Magazine said, "As readers may or may not know, I'm the magazine's assistant editor...I see it as an opportunity to talk about whatever music-related topic happens to be stuck in my craw or my crosshairs, or something that landed on my desk that I might be into but for sundry reasons doesn't have a place in Chronogram proper: Perhaps this means a gig or two that I caught over the weekend, or a CD by a non-local artist that I think deserves attention (or one by a cool local artist that we didn't have room for). So, then: Speaking of cool CDs by non-local artists, one recent surprise is Marcus Singletary Rocks. From the look of it and the spiel on the accompanying press sheet, I was expecting yet another soulless and antiseptic bar-band blues record. Boy was I wrong. On this, his fourth full-length, Singletary stays far from Miller Beer land, instead slaloming furiously between the scuzzed-out, awesome Cream worship of Grand Funk's first LP and raw, punkish blues that could be ... at home on Fat Possum ... This guy really seems to know that, these days anyway, the blues need to be fucked up to still be vital."
Illinois Entertainer's Jason Scales also was a fan of the style heard on Marcus Singletary Rocks. "The 10 tracks on Marcus Singletary Rocks represent a sampling of Singletary’s recorded blues resume … [showcasing] his blues crooning and extended guitar solo skills."
While Marcus Singletary's early musical efforts had been recorded by using Cakewalk on an old Gateway PC, by 2006, he was ready to move into more professional recording environments. These efforts spawned a pair of albums featuring a bevy of LA session players including ex-Doobie Brother Chet McCracken (drums), former Ekoostik Hookah bassist Cliff Starbuck, and Vincent Unto of Executive Suite ("When the Fuel Runs Out.") The sonic template was also enlarged by the addition of a full horn section.
Michael Popke of Sea of Tranquility noticed this, and wrote, "This seeks to portray Chicago blues guitarist Marcus Singletary as a diverse singer, songwriter and producer. That's why there's barely a blues lick among these seven feel-food songs with titles like "Love Is the Answer," "Shake the Ceiling" and "Start Something," although the Seventies-ready "One More Funk Song" comes close. Mixed by Don Casale (who engineered "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida," by the way) on the same RCA Records console used to track several Elvis hits, the album boasts lots of backing vocals and proves Singletary can both sing and play. Cynics among us may regard Singletary's latest material, as his other albums were defined by lengthy blues solos � as a step backward into pop territory. The rest will simply enjoy these 27 minutes of catchy, happy-sounding tunes that may brighten an otherwise cloudy day for someone who knows not to judge a CD by its cover."
2011's Smokin' followed suit, and added a Bob Marley cover tune ("Misty Morning") and a full horn section to the mix. Steven Reid of Tranquility thought it was a good one.
Steven Reid: "Putting aside the picture on the CD cover which gives the impression that Marcus Singletary is some sort of bandit on the run - and the rather dark music it suggests, once you delve into this rather short album the feeling is altogether lighter and more joyful than the image suggests. If your musical memory stretches back to the Seventies, then there's a good chance that you'll find something, if not rather a lot to enjoy on Singletary's Smokin', with everything from classic rock to disco, boogie to funk and jazz to pop making an appearance. As that list alludes to, the influences blur past thick and fast through the songs, but rather cleverly the end results manage to avoid sounding too close to any one band in particular. Want some glam tinged classic rock? Then fire on "Can It Be Real" where Bolan is hinted at. Looking for something altogether more flower powery? Well "Meditate" floats by exactly as its title suggests. Both of these tracks also highlight the wonderful vocal performances and intricate arrangements that make Smokin' an interesting and rewarding journey, while the likes of the funked up and uber catchy "Get The Dance Gene" and the sweet melodious pop of "Farmer" have you humming their hook line for days on end, with the latter actually being the strongest song on offer here. Across the whole album what really strikes you is the insistent beats and classy performances, with the horn section which includes flute, trombone, sax and trumpet adding greatly to the authenticity and scope of the music. Chet McCracken and Cliff Starbuck on drums and bass respectively have you heaving your ass around the room in the most unsightly of manners with the incisive and considered rhythms, which leaves Singletary to handle everything else, including guitars, keyboards, Theremin and vocals, as well as producing the album. He does all of these to great effect, with bright guitar work interacting beautifully with the brass, but allowed space to breathe thanks to an excellent, sympathetic production. The best example of how all the different areas are brought together comes in the shape of "Misty Morning" where the band really stretch out and let fly bouncing off each other and thriving on the energy they creates. Not everything works to the same level though, with "Psychedelic People" meandering for far too long before reaching the point and "Drop Of A Hat" requiring just an ounce more energy to make it as memorable as it could be, although the bright and breezy "You Could Be Lucky" closes the album out in fine, uplifting style. Smokin' is quite a bold undertaking and any album that doesn't rely on an overly familiar sound for success these days is to be applauded. It may not all come off to the high standard of the best material presented here, but when it does Smokin' is an impressive beast and well worth investigating."
In 2015, the compilation In the Mix summed up this period. Blogger Jim Pasinski offered up his opinion: “Marcus Singletary shows off his funky side with "Get The Dance Gene" and flashes back to the disco-rock of "Right Now." The heaviness of "Can It Be Real" showcases Marcus' guitar skills as well as his vocal skills. One of the highlights of the album has to be the acoustic-shuffle of "You Could Be Lucky," that feels like a missed opportunity for Lenny Kravitz.”
Concepts and performance art returned with the albums Defiance Science (2014), Subversive Blues (2016), and Born to Be Wild (2020.) This trio of albums finds Marcus Singletary playing all of the instruments, once again. Science told the story of a troubled actor's experiences in Hollywood. Jon Neudorf of Sea of Tranquility covered it:
"Marcus Singletary is an American multi-instrumentalist who has released a number of albums his latest being Defiance Science which came out on May 7. On the album Singletary does everything himself playing guitar, bass, drums, keyboards, synths and vocals.The album tells the story of one Primrose Luckett, a scholar who goes to California to live the good life. You can pick up the rest from there. The story seems to be at odds with the album cover showing a beautiful gaseous nebula. That said, what about the music?I found this album difficult to categorize. Yes, it is rock but it is different somehow. Maybe it is the interesting use of synths and keyboards or because the individual tracks have such a different sound.
The album begins with "Science", a melodic pop rock tune with a thick bass groove and upbeat sound. I like the shimmering keyboards and the bluesy guitar solo is very nice. With "Party Like A Star", Singletary delves into pop dance party grooves before turning in a more rock direction with intense lead guitar. "Shangri-Rock" has a breezy pop sound full of synths and melodic keyboards before the changing tempos add an element of complexity. A late '60s psychedelic sound can be heard on the mellow "In the Sand". I was reminded of the Hendrix classic "Little Wing". "Genovia" is a much heavier rocker with a ripping guitar solo while the somewhat quirky "Lookin' Good" gives off a Steely Dan vibe both vocally and rhythmically. In "Young Lady of Royalty" the processed vocals and dramatic shifts in tempo give this an interesting dynamic and the guitar solo is excellent. "Tomorrow, No" ends the disc with a little bit of rockabilly/country flare.Defiance Science is a diverse album with excellent musicianship, quite an accomplishment considering this is the work of one musician. Fans of rock music in general should definitely take note."
Taking cues from Lou Reed's 1975 album Metal Machine Music, Subversive Blues (2016) presented the other side of the coin, with its anti-music ideas rising to the forefront. It was an abrasive collection of mostly soundscapes that baffled some listeners. Others, however, thought it was solid. Independent music critic Jim Pasinski opined, "The musical chameleon known as Marcus Singletary returns with his most politically charged album to date, "Subversive Blues." The new ten-song release begins with the sound of arguments that will have you drawing your own conclusions as to what is being said and recorded. The short synthesizer instrumental "Astronaut's Daughter" and voice affects experiment "Bonnie Wright" has you wondering which direction this album is headed, but the back-porch blues of "That's The Way It Is" showcases Marcus' pure talents. He expands his sound with the atmospheric tones of "Blessing Of The Guru" and the work-day chant of "My Slave Life." The album finishes with his return to the confrontation of "Dead Cops And Starfighters" as a political rally turns into a great musical instrumental that leads into the soundscape of "The Hero Returns Home."
For 2020's Born to Be Wild, the experimentation was mainly heard within deconstructed song forms with origins in non-standard instrument tunings. Some recordings were completely improvised, on the spot and in the recording studio. Like Subversive Blues, the majority of the work was completed in Singletary's custom recording facility in the San Fernando Valley area of Los Angeles. Six in the Head Music Journal published a review of this strange sounding disc:
"When I saw this ... and read that it included a cover of Steppenwolf’s Born To Be Wild and was influenced by classic rock I’m going to be honest with you. I thought Jesus Christ Almighty what have we got here? ... I really wanted to completely take the piss out of this whole record but I can’t. It’s good. Nothing cheesy or cringey ... I’m surprised and I’m pleased. I would even go so far as to call this ‘experimental classic rock’ and I mean that as a compliment. Some old stuff mixed with some newish stuff that track two, 'Freeform Guitar', really shows off. It’s like Cream if Cream were a lot more adventurous. The first three tracks are kinda like The White Stripes in the way that they take classic rock 'tropes' (vomit) and reinvent them for jaded listeners like me who think that they’ve heard everything. There are classic tunes and riffs and all that crap but it’s very much inventive and not shit at all or boring."
"The multi-talented artist Marcus Singletary'S latest EP "Power Player" reimagines four classic tunes from the 1960's. He starts off with the upbeat pop hit "California Sun," made famous by The Rivieras, in which Marcus strips the song back to allow the lyrics and his guitar deliver the fun in the sun. Next, he delivers the blues of the Robert Johnson original "Love In Vain," peeling off some classic guitar riffs. Marcus wraps up his short new release with an all out punk-like assault of The Yardbirds' "Shape Of Things" and the classic theme for the open road "Born To Be Wild," in which is slows down to deliver a bluesier sound to the song.that barely even exists today - provided Singletary the perfect specimens for his ongoing lab experiments." -Jim Pasinski, JP's Music Blog, May, 2021.
"Experimental instrumentalist and sonic tunesmith Marcus Singletary has been at it for a number of years now, not following the latest trends and never compromising his art. I reviewed his 2015 album titled Defiance Science and am quite delighted to delve into his latest offering Journey to Sebhedris. On the album Singletary plays everything himself.
A pulsating electronic keyboard begins “Visionary Heights” and although the song is a bit repetitive, the melodic lines are really quite catchy. On the strangely titled “The Golden Ice Hits the Morning Dew Where It Hurts” is all brooding waves of synthesizers creating a very unsettling and ominous sound. Electronic percussion and beats comingle with gurgling synths on “Tarsus XII”, another slightly unsettling track. The first time the guitar is appreciably heard is on the fourth track “Sixteen Steps to Pyramid One” with its outbursts of angular dexterity. Singletary is an excellent player.
Just as the last track was all guitar the next one is all organ. “Fanfare for a Funeral” is an experimental offering where the musician’s creativity on the organ shines. The choppy and avant natured “Avaricious Spider” is inundated with cool sounds, heavy beats and a deep bottom end.
Marcus Singletary is an artist whose creativity and musical zeal is unmistakably his own. Let’s just say he follows his own muse. Recommended." -Jon Neudorf, Sea of Tranquility
Track Listing: Disc 1: Live on Sunset, Disc 2: Live at the Foxx, Disc 3: Marcus Singletary Live, DIsc 4: The Sonic Admiral - Live!
The Sonic Admiral - Live!
"Singer/songwriter/guitarist extraordinaire Marcus Singletary is preparing to release his new live album "The Sonic Admiral - Live!" on April 11th. The new 30-minute release kicks off with the high energy of "On The Silver Screen" and the funkiness of "Roll It One More Time." He experiments with the lyrics of "I'd Like To Find Out" and the sonic attack of "Danger Ahead," before returning to rock of "Magic And Carnal Delights." Marcus wraps up his new 12-track live release with his excellent guitar playing during the solo of "Green Sky Guitar/Sonic Admiral" and the rhythm-fueled "Subversive Birds."" -Jim Pasinski, JP's Music Blog
"You have to admire Marcus Singletary’s tenacity, for as soon as one album is recorded and released, it seems that the singer, guitarist, piano and synth player, is straight onto the next one. This time it’s a live offering that’s served up, The Sonic Admiral - Live!, recorded at California’s PharmaFest; a festival which saw ‘growers, smokers and cops all standing together side by side’. With the event being something of an impromptu occasion Singletary quickly teamed up with V’Cenzio ‘Rufus’ Jenkins on bass, San Diego Sanchez on drums and multi-instrumentalists Dick Bobb and Rob Lapkis.
As ever from this idiosyncratic artist, the fare isn’t just varied, it’s almost scattergun in approach, the opening “On The Silver Screen” a catchy piece of rock n’ roll boogie where San Diego’s cymbal smashes over-power and dominate. In between songs the crowd noises feel like they belong in a show from the 60s, the building applause and background rumble that runs behind “Roll It One More Time” giving a strange vibe indeed. The song itself also feels connected to that era, an organ pulse the focal point for the straight up beats and brass stabs, which leads into the first of the more avant-garde offerings in the shape of “I’d Like To Find Out”. Singletary describes these moments as an ‘a cappella vocal landscape, featuring his voice mutated through a TC-Helicon unit’. “Danger Ahead” doesn’t make things much clearer, with apparently the sound of engines building and roaring into explosive force being ‘lapped up’ by the crowd, before “We Trust In Our Leader” - a vocal only arrangement that clearly swipes at current political leaders - elicits some appreciative chuckles, whoops and hollers from the crowd.
“Magic And Carnal Delights” takes us back into more song based territory, a jaunty classic rock vibe keenly laid bare and clearing the way for the blues-rock-shred of “Green Sky Guitar>Sonic Admiral”. Proving that, for all the dalliances elsewhere, if Marcus Singletary can do one thing, he can sure make his guitar beg for mercy in the most rewarding of fashions. A more avant-prog stance is taken on the jagged “King Astrohead”, whereas “Look Down Fair Moon” is a 28 second spoken piece that leads into the intricately layered vocal excursion of “Comin’ Home To You” and the show closing howl and stomp of “Subversive Blues”, which undoubtedly lives up to its name.
Running to around the 30 minute mark, The Sonic Admiral - Live! is a strong example of the eclectic message music Marcus Singletary specialises in. The sound is rough and raw but in many ways that’s something that sits well with the more obviously rocked up moments ... The more adventurous of you might want to give this a go." -Steven Reid, Sea of Tranquility
Marcus Singletary Live (2015)
"Guitar wizard Marcus Singletary has continued to amaze his fans and admirers with his talents for adapting to any musical genre. He has ventured in country, jazz, and funk; but his first love has to be rock music. His guitar playing is extraordinary, especially when he gets lost in a song and blazes a way out with his shredding. His latest release is his first official live album titled simply "Marcus Singletary Live." It is a short nine-song, thirty-minute set that finds Marcus in a close, club-like setting. He plays it save on the first tune of the set "Beggar's Anthem," before experimenting with his sound in "Hallelujah," which ends way too soon. He picks up the tempo with the garage rock appeal of "On The Silver Screen," then locks into the light, airy instrumental "Science." Marcus finally opens up his sound on the six-plus minute, adventurous "Cartwheel And Comet," before heading into a grunge-like cover of Jim Croce's "Don't Mess Around With Jim." -Jim Pasinski, JP's Music Blog
Live on Sunset (2006) & Live at the Foxx (2005)
"Singer/songwriter/guitarist Marcus Singletary...begins with the up-tempo sixties rocker "Best In Me," before heading over to the blues of "Shame." Marcus takes over the keyboard on the retro sounding jam of "The Music's Playin'," before closing with a couple great cover songs. He speeds up "Good Lovin'," channeling his idol Jerry Garcia on the solo, before finishing the show with the blues romp of "Sweet Home Chicago." -Jim Pasinski, JP's Music Blog
Track Listing: King Astrohead, Cartwheel and Comet, Chicago Stomp, Highway Patrol, Green Sky Guitar/Sonic Admiral, Marcus Singletary Mix, Take Me Out to the Ball Game, Summer, Quake, Holy Guitar
Credits: Marcus Singletary: Main Performer, Composer (all tracks), Producer.
"This collects some of Marcus Singletary’s best guitar solos on one album. The concept is perfect, especially when you have someone as talented as Marcus performing the licks.
“Summer,” is a “balls to the wall” blazing instrumental that sounds like it could have been taken from a live Jimi Hendrix concert. Then Marcus settles down with a bit more funk along with the full-band sound of “Chicago Stomp,” before expanding his sound (and mind) on the spacey “Marcus Singletary Mix.” You can really hear his talents on all the different genres that Marcus covers. The main focus of the album is the trippy title track." -Jim Pasinski, JP's Music Blog
"It seems to bounce around between genres when the music is playing, although regardless of it being lounge jazz or grungy trance, Marcus is usually at the helm displaying his excellent guitar talent which is obviously the main draw. The cute and quaint jazz in “Chicago Stomp” works well, as it just feels like a great jamming session. "Marcus Singletary Mix" sits somewhere between the lot of it with some well picked guitar strings over some nice beats.
After the album had finished, I really didn’t quite know what to think. It’s an album that veers off so deep into the experimental genre, to try to tell people you’ll like it or hate is almost impossible. Guitar purists may find a lot to unravel here." -Simon Smith, Higher Plain Music
Track Listing: The I.R.S., Jim-Bob's Record Shop, S.P.I.T. 909, 200th Anniversary of the Klan, Yes on Prop. 608, Jim Rockstar and Bozo McDade, No on Prop. 608, Attack of the Record Men, The Life and Times of John Wilkes Booth, Public Service Announcement, Moby Dick, Sincock and Nipples, One NIght Stand
Credits: Marcus Singletary - Narrator, Engineer, Composer (all tracks), Producer.
"Marcus Singletary, the musical chameleon, returns once again with a new album titled "Daydream Station." This 14-song, 20 minute comedy album showcases Marcus' more comedic side was these short parodies of interviews ("The I.R.S." and "Attack Of The Record Men"), commercials ("S.P.I.T. 909") and public service announcements. While Marcus does not play any music on this new album, it is worth a listen for the tongue-in-cheek political comedy that we all have come to know in this day-in-age. His new release closes with a great 5-minute stand-up where nobody laughs or even notices his jokes." -Jim Pasinski, JP's Music Blog
Track Listing: Critics, Not Fade Away, LA Quake, Radio and Records, Footprints, Push the Envelope, Wind and Wuthering
Credits: Marcus Singletary - Electric Guitars, Bass, Drums, Narration, Engineer, Songwriter (3, 7), Production.
"The musical chameleon, Marcus Singletary is back again with a new EP titled "Spirit Dialogues." Singletary has delivered everything from rock to country to funk and blues, and now he showcases re-imagined versions of classic songs by Buddy Holly, Wayne Shorter and Genesis. His new 3-song/3-spoken word EP begins with the Holly tune "Not Fade Away," which doesn't stray too far from the original, but does tack on a extended guitar solo that pushes the song to the 7-minute mark. He delivers a rock infused, Hendrix-style guitar to Wayne Shorter's "Footprints" and then closes with the guitar instrumental tribute to Genesis' song "All In A Mouse's Night."" -Jim Pasinski, JP's Music Blog
Track Listing: Proud Mary, You Win Again, You Don't Mess Around WIth Jim, Muleskinner Blues (Blue Yodel No. 8), Folsom Prison Blues, Just Pretend, Kiss an Angel Good Morning
Credits: Marcus Singletary - Acoustic Guitar and Vocals, Producer.
"Singletary is a deft guitarist and also has a strong voice. His clear vocals bring to life just how violent and menacing many roots and roots-influenced songs really are...Fans of traditional and acoustic music may be interested in checking out these new interpretations, still performed organically and from the soul, as they were intended.'" -Dan Berthiaume, AXS
*Track Listing: Take Me Out to the Ball Game, The Babe, Boys of Summer, Suzuki, Man of Steal
*Credits: Marcus Singletary - Electric Guitar, Songwriter (2-5), Arranger (1), Production. Stefano Ashbridge: Drums. Engineering: Eric Greedy. Mastering: David Torrey.
"With just his blazing electric guitar...Marcus Singletary provides an alternate soundtrack for America's pastime. Containing five songs and clocking in with 20 minutes of music, Take Me Out to the Ball Game was recorded live in front of an audience and opens with the title track, a fat-sounding take on the traditional version. But then it veers off into improvised uncharted territory, a la Hendrix on "The Star-Spangled Banner." "Boys of Summer," a sun-drenched scorcher of a solo without Ashbridge's accompaniment, reveals Singletary's wild side — proving he's not always the jazzman he purports to be in his promo materials. That's not to say the guitarist doesn't take influences from jazz greats, with his guitar on "Suzuki" squawking like John Coltrane and Miles Davis, and "Man of Steal" damn near hits a fusion home run. Singletary is one of those players who doesn't fall easily into any particular style. Take Me Out to the Ball Game, despite its unifying conceptual theme, is proof of that." -Michael Popke, Sea of Tranquility
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