If ever there was an album the epitomized a style of music, Skynyrd's debut "Pronounced" epitomized southern rock. Sure, the Allman Brothers came before them, but the difference is as a sprint to a mere walk. Produced by Al Kooper, there are few records that sound this raw, this emotional, and certainly there are few debut albums that are this influence. Yet despite the Southern label, the song writing is varied throughout, bringing influences from blues, country, hard rock, and of course, the Southern bar and garage bands of the time. Within just the first two songs there is a startling contrast between the hard rocking "I Ain't the One" and the classic power ballad "Tuesday's Gone." If that is not enough, flip over to the traditional blues of "Mississippi Kid" or the hard rocking "Poison Seed." These stark contrasts continue on throughout the entire album, yet the band still somehow manages to sound like they have a direction. There are several rock radio staples on this disc including "Gimmie Three Steps," "Simple Man," and epic rocker "Free Bird."
When I saw Skynyrd recently, shortly after the death of bassist Leon Wilkerson, they played "Simple Man" and dedicated to Leon. There couldn't have been a dry eye in the house. It was simply awesome. The expanded, remastered version of this disc contains several bonus tracks incl
Skynyrd's third record followed on the heels of their gold album "Second Helping" and was more of the same Southern rock 'n' roll, albeit with plenty of variety. However, this one had far fewer 'hit' songs, which makes this disc even more a joy to listen to now, since it hasn't been played to death on the radio. The one exception is opener "Saturday Night Special," which was their first single from the album, although even it didn't make the top ten. "On the Hunt" is probably the hardest rocker on the disc, while others like "I'm A Country Boy" and "Railroad Song" take on a more Southern blues approach. "Made in the Shade" is a laid back, swamp country-blues song that the band dedicated to Shorty Medlocke, who apparently influence them a great deal. So, while most people would say this was not the band's best, it's still a fine example of Southern rock 'n' roll. The remastered edition contains extensive liner notes and an essay with band member interviews, as well as two live bonus tracks.
Lynyrd Skynyrd - Gimme Back My Bullets (MCA) 1976
1. "Gimme Back My
This one has less 'hits' that other Skynyrd discs, however, that just makes it that much better for me. "Gimme Back My Bullets" is a hard rockin' southern rock album. There are several killer tracks, including the heavy southern romp of "Double Trouble", a song about how many times Van Zant has spent in jail, and the semi-hit title track. On the tour for this album the band had to stop playing the title track because fans were throwing bullets up on the stage. (Now, how smart is that?) Anyhow, in more recent years, the revised Skynyrd started playing this excellent song again. The remastered version has FAR superior sound quality, an extensive booklet with liner notes and photos, and two live bonus tracks.
Jackyl covered "Gimme Back My Bullets" on their Stayin' Alive EP.
Lynyrd Skynyrd - One More From the Road (MCA) 1976
A classic live album recorded at the Fox Theater in Atlanta, Georgia, 1976. Three sold out nights were recorded and the best tracks from those three nights were chosen for the double album release. Part of the reason the band decided to record this album was because they were trying to help save the historic Fox Theater. Apparently it was to be condemned, and Skynyrd wanted to help raise the money to save it. The other reason this cd was recorded was because the band's last album was not selling as well as was hoped. In the 70's double live albums were very popular, and Skynyrd's "One More From the Road" was no exception. The disc became the band's fastest selling album ever and quickly went gold, then platinum. The album included two tracks that the band had not recorded before this record, both of which were cover songs, Jimmie Rodgers' "T for Texas"and Robert Johnson cover "Crossroads". However, both these tracks had been live favorites. The remastered includes several bonus tracks and a nicely laid out cover complete with extensive liner notes.
"Street Survivors" is perhaps the most infamous of all Skynyrd releases. It appeared in stores just days before Lynyrd Skynyrd's touring plane crashed, tragically killing many members of the band, including lead singer and songwriter Ronnie VanZant and new members guitarist Steve Gaines and background vocalist Cassie Gaines. Almost immediately albums were pulled from the stores, as the album cover showed a gruesome photo of the band walking through flames, that was almost a prophecy of the band's demise. The fact that "Street Survivors" was one of Skynyrd's best albums only intensified the tragedy. The album was repackaged in a black cover with a similar photo to the first, but without the flames. Both are pictured above. Needless to say, the cover art with the flames became a big collector's item. With the CD re-release, the original cover art was restored.
Musically, 'Street Survivors" is one of Skynyrd's finest. Lots of Southern rock jams ("That Smell," "You Got That Right," "What's Your Name") as well as some country boogie touches ("I Know a Little.") The line up for this album was: Ronnie Van Zant (vocals); Steve Gaines (guitar, background vocals); Allen Collins, Gary Rossington (guitar); Billy Powell (keyboards); Leon Wilkeson (bass); Artimus Pyle (drums).
Lynyrd Skynyrd - Lynyrd Skynyrd 1991 (Atlantic) 1991
1. "Smokestack Lightning"
Several years after a successful reunion tour (1987) the reunited Lynyrd Skynyrd decided to record a brand new studio album. I'm not sure that they matched the excitement or the chemistry of their early records, but this is certainly not a bad disc. Had this disc been released under another name, it would probably have been considered a very good record. However, there is no dismissing the comparisons to the early classics. If you can somehow separate this disc from those discs, then I really think this is quite an enjoyable bluesy, Southern-rock affair. "Money Man" is a pretty funny, tongue-in-cheek blues based number about a manger that lives off 'the boys in the band.' Some other standout cuts are: "Southern Women", "Good Thing" and album opener "Smokestack Lightning." ("Smokestack Lightning" is not a cover of the Yardbirds song, although that would have been cool to hear.)
Lynyrd Skynyrd - The Last Rebel (Atlantic) 1993
1. "Good Lovin's Hard
to Find" (3:54)
I will admit that this CD doesn't sound like the 'classic' Skynyrd of old. However, this is just one fine Southern Rock CD. Ed King's smooth strat sounds great. The songwriting is a bit on the melancholy side, but still downright infectious. I can't imagine any fan of Southern rock not enjoying this disc. There is also a welcome return to slightly longer songs with the title track and album closer "Born to Run". King and Rossington both putting out some smooth guitar solos. Perhaps not the band's finest CD, but a mile ahead of "1991" and a good listen from beginning to end. What else can a fan ask for?
Lynyrd Skynyrd - Endangered Species (Capricorn) 1994
1. "Down South Jukin'"
Skynyrd unplugged! What other band can you think of whose songs would work well in this format? I mean, Skynyrd have always been a down to earth, back home rock n roll band to begin with. So stipping their songs down to the bare minimum doesn't really harm them in any way. Actually if I am in just the right mood, this CD is perfect. Could have lived without the Elvis cover though.
Lynyrd Skynyrd - Twenty (CMC) 1997
1. "We Ain't Much
"Twenty" marks 20 years since the tragic plane crash. Skynyrd really had been to hell and back. For "Twenty" the group added two new members ex-Blackfoot Ricky Medlocke (who actually was in an early incarnation of Skynyrd) and former Outlaw Hughie Thomasson making the group a virtual Southern rock supergroup. I suppose some people feel this is a bad thing, but to be quite honest, I think "Twenty" is a good listen. Perhaps it will not gain them many new fans, but old fans should be satisfied as the disc is full of smokin' Southern rock and roll.
Lynyrd Skynyrd - Skynyrd's First-The Complete Muscle Shoals Album (MCA) 1998
1. "Free Bird"
[original version] (7:27)
The story behind the music on this CD, recorded two years before the band's official debut album, fills the first few chapters of Gene Odon's Lynyrd Skynyrd biography. However, this disc is basically the very first demo recordings that Skynyrd did in the early 70's to shop to labels. The labels weren't interested. The thing is though, this is an incredible album that was way ahead of it's time. There are several songs that became huge hits some years down the road. These early recordings are much more raunchy and raw than the versions that appeared on their official albums. Nine of these songs appeared on the "First and Last" release that came out in 1978 after the band's tragic plane crash. A few were never released until this compilation. Almost half the material on this disc was written by Rick Medlocke, who joined Skynyrd from Blackfoot, and later went back to Blackfoot. "White Dove" is a ballad written by Medlocke, and features Rick on lead vocals as well. Medlocke also wrote "Preacher's Daughter," "The Seasons" and co-wrote "Lend a Helpin' Hand" with Allen Collins. "The Season" is a song that really could have become a single for the band. The song is quite dynamic with it's slow build into the hard slammin' guitar solo in the middle of the song back down to a bluesy acoustic ending. (If it seems I am a bit infatuated with Medlocke, it's because I am also a big Blackfoot fan.) Probably not a disc for the casual fan who only enjoys the hits, but an excellent collection for those like myself who just enjoy the bluesy Southern sounds.
Lynyrd Skynyrd-The Last Flight (cdr bootleg)
1. "Workin' for MCA"
I'm not sure if this was the last show the band did before the tragic plane crash, or if it is just one of the last shows. Perhaps some Skynyrd mega-fan can let me know. In any case, the band sounded great at this show. They were touring one their most successful record to date and were hugely popular at the time. It's easy to see why when just about every song one here is FM radio staple. There are a couple clicks and pops here and there, and a couple of songs are cut short ("T for Texas") but otherwise not a bad bootleg. This one is probably either a soundboard recording or a radio broadcast.
Skynyrd's last concert was in Greenville, South Carolina on October 19 1977. They were bound for their next show but never made it, their plane went down in a swamp near McComb, Mississippi. Killing Ronnie Van Zant (Vocals) Steve Gaines (guitarist) His sister Cassie Gaines (backround vocals) and Band manager Dean Kilpatrick.
Lynyrd Skynyrd - Edge of Forever (CMC International) 1999
Yet another excellent Southern Rock romp by the Skynyrd All-Stars. Unfortunately since the Lynyrd Skynyrd name is being used, some of the personalities are restricted to sounding like Skynyrd. However, this time 'round I can hear some of Medlocke and Thomasson's influence in the songwriting. Ricky Medlocke, the "rattlesnake rocker," was a powerful frontman in his own right for his band Blackfoot in the '70s as was Hughie Thomasson for the Outlaws. I would have loved to have heard 'ol Ricky Medlocke on lead vocals on a track or two here. Despite this, the songs on this album are for the most part quite good. "Workin'" is a smokin' Southern rocker with a killer guitar assault. It is truly amazing how much Johnny sounds like his late brother Ronnie in this song. Likewise "Full Moon Night" and "Preacher Man" rock hard and use the signature Skynyrd Southern rock sound. "Tomorrow's Goodbye," is an emotionally charged modern country ballad about saving the planet. At one point in this song VanZant makes a reference to his brother and a hint of "Freebird" is added to strike and emotional chord. "Money Back Guarantee" has some excellent piano work from Billy Powell, while "Get It While the Gettin's Good" is an excellent rocker that recalls Blackfoot a bit. Once again, I would have liked to have heard Medlocke share in the vocals here. This track leads into another ballad, "Rough Around the Edges." While many have criticized this version of Skynyrd as being nothing more than a tribute band, I think that the post plane crash version of the band is still crankin' out some credible music that proves they are not just a band of dinosaurs.
Lynyrd Skynyrd-Extended Versions: Encore Collections (BMG) 1999
Your Name" [live] (3:39)
Extended Versions contains latter-day live recordings from a reincarnated version of Lynyrd Skynyrd plus a few newer songs. Not really that great of a collection. Cheap packaging to boot.
Lynyrd Skynyrd - Turn It Up (CMC International/Sanctuary) 2002
1. "Born to Run"
A compilation of the 1990's Johnny Van Zant era of Skynyrd including songs from "Lynyrd Skynyrd 1991", "The Last Rebel", "Endangered Species", "Twenty", and "Edge of Forever". While some people refuse to accept this version of the band, this compilation proves that the band has put out some outstanding material since that tragic plane crash, although not all equally as good. I personally perfer the material from "Twenty" and "Edge of Forever." Unfortunately there are no unreleased tracks on this disc. Still, this disc is 1000x better than the terrible "Extended Versions" compilation released a few years earlier.
Lynyrd Skynyrd - Vicious Cycle (Sanctuary) 2003
"Vicious Cycle" is the first new material Skynyrd have put out since they endured the loss of long time bassist Leon Wilkeson. Leon actually plays bass on "The Way" and "Lucky Man." Despite the loss of yet another member, "Vicious Cycle" is another fine Southern rock romp. There is plenty of bluesy hard rock, as well as some more tender, melancholy moments. Lyrically the band stretches beyond the party & rock 'n roll lyrics of early Skynyrd and give us a bit of soul searching and political and social opinions. "Red White and Blue" for instance reminds me of something that Ted Nugent might have written. "My Daddy worked hard and so have I, paid our taxes and gave our lives to serve this great country, so what are they complaining about, we love our families, love our kids, you know it's love that makes us all so rich. That's where we're at, if you don't like it you can just get out." "Mad Hatter", of course, is a song written for and to Leon Wilkeson. "The Mad Hatter is moving on. The Cat in the Hat is gone. He had nine lives, I can't believe they're all gone..." A sad song that I am sure worked as bit of therapy for the band. Hope they play this one on tour. I must also mention that I am so glad that Skynyrd finally put Rick Medlocke behind the microphone. While his only sings a duet with Johnny Van Zant on "Pick "Em Up", it's still good to hear his voice. Rick is a great singer, so it's about time they made use of his voice. Johhny's gritty voice sounds as good as it ever did. While he will unfortunately always be under the shadow of his brother Ronnie, he has done more than a sufficient job filling those hard to fill shoes. The only real negative I have to say about this disc is the inclusion of Kid Rock on the bonus track. Argh! Can't stand that nu-metal, rap crap. Fortunately, this song isn't as bad as one might think. However, I still can't believe that Skynrd would ever have a rapper on one of their albums. Allen and Ronnie must be rolling over in their graves. Funny thing is, this song is actually getting a lot of airplay on the radio stations in my area. Perhaps it will help push the sales for this album.
Lynyrd Skynyrd - Thyrty:The 30th Anniversary Collection (LTV) 2003
A good collections of Skynyrd classics, together with a select few newer Skynyrd songs. Can't say that I am much of a fan of 'best of' discs, especially when this band already has a number of different collections. It's not that I don't enjoy the songs contained herein but because I hate having to pay money for songs I already own. However, this disc was given to me free, so I couldn't resist and quite enjoyed listening to it. For a casual Skynrd fan, or even a new fan, this might be the perfect CD. However, hardcore fans who already own 99% of the band's catalogue don't have much goodies to chose from on here that would make them want to spend their hard earned cash on it. The one unreleased song, "Blues Medley" is about the only real rarity. This track is actually quite good, which is not unexpected since Skynyrd's Southern sounds were based on the blues to begin with. Nice packaging feature a long biography, plenty of liner notes and a plethora of photos. Wrapped nicely within a cardboard slipcase.
Lynyrd Skynyrd – God & Guns (Roadrunner) 2009
I've seen the reunited Skynryd many, many times over the past decade. I was able to see the band in 2009 before the release of " Gods & Guns". On that tour they played two new songs. They opened with " Skynyrd Nation", a song which saw Ricky Meldocke and Johnny Van Zant sharing lead vocal duties. This is a hard rocking song and made me wish that the current incarnation of Skynyrd would pull out a couple of old Blackfoot songs live. It is my opinion that Rickey is a great talent. I was 100% blown away by this song. Later during the set they performed another excellent, hooky song called " Still Unbroken". Both songs impressed me to the point that I rushed out to buy " God & Guns" soon after it was released. " God & Guns" has some hooky tunes, including the two aforementioned tracks. As well as those two, the 70's sounding " Southern Way" is quite good, and has a flair not unlike " Sweet Home Alabama". The swampy, bluesy, hard rocking "Floyd" (featuring guest vocals from Rob Zombie) is also a good song. However, much of the rest of the disc has a new country feel to it, rather than Southern rock. As a longtime fan of the band, I found the obvious attempts at country crossover a bit off-putting. " Unwrite That Song"," Gifted Hands" and " That Ain't My America" sound more like something off a Toby Keith album than they do Southern rock and roll. Perhaps Skynyrd have seen the success that Kidd Rock and The Eagles have had in the country market and are trying to ride that train. Unfortunately for me, I'm not really a fan of this trend, so these songs don';t really appeal to me.
Chalk it all up to change. Times change. People change. Band members have passed on into eternity. New members are added. This is most certainly a different Lynyrd Skynyrd, but still one that sounds vital. Here’s hoping for more songs like "Synyrd Nation" and "Floyd" in the future. I’d also like to see Rickey take the mic a bit more in the future.
Lynyrd Skynyrd - Last of a Dyin' Breed (Roadrunner) 2012