Classic Rock Review

The home of old record and bootleg reviews…

Lynyrd Skynyrd The Complete Muscle Shoals Album (1998)

615bQbISI7LFrom sfloman.com

This posthumous album was originally released as Skynyrd’s First and…Last in 1978 and was bulked up considerably and released as Skynyrd’s First: The Complete Muscle Shoals Album in 1998. The original album was comprised of recordings that pre-dated their debut and featured future Blackfoot members Greg T. Walker and Rickey Medlocke among their ranks.

Most of these songs are of a surprisingly high quality, if not up to the standards of their more famous later albums. “Down South Jukin'” may be their most prototypical song title along with “Whiskey Rock-A Roller,” but though it came first to me it sounds like a prelude to “What’s Your Name?” That’s the problem with a lot of the later additions, as songs such as “Free Bird,” “Gimme Three Steps,” and “Simple Man” are good but sound like inferior test runs for the more famous versions that came later.

I do prefer some of these versions, however, such as “Trust” which I already mentioned, while I’m pretty sure that “One More Time” is pretty much the same version as the one on Street Survivors. Back to the original album, “Preacher’s Daughter” is a fast groover with harmonized guitars, “White Dove” is a lovely and atypical soft rocker sung by Medlocke, and the intense “Was I Right Or Wrong” I also mentioned previously as it surfaced as a bonus track on Second Helping.

Still, it’s nice to have worthy tracks such as “Lend a Helpin’ Hand,” “Wino” (maybe this is their quintessential song title!), and “Things Goin’ On” all in one place. My favorite tracks are probably “The Seasons,” a melodic, soulful, groovy ballad, the melancholic part ballad/part rocker “Comin’ Home,” which is not only the best song here but is among the ten best Skynyrd songs ever, and (on the reissue) “You Run Around,” an explosive hard rocker that’s more like Blackfoot than Skynyrd (no surprise as it’s one of four songs sung by Medlocke, who also at least co-writes five tracks total, which needless to say gives the Complete Muscle Shoals Album a different feel than your typical Skynyrd album).

Anyway, the band certainly went on to bigger and better things, but their beginnings were plenty good too, so fans of the band are advised to pick up this one, albeit only after checking out their classic later albums. Note: Skynyrd have TONS of “best of” compilations, many of which are very worthwhile, so if you want to begin investigating the band, or if you’re a casual fan who wants some Skynyrd but you don’t want to splurge for the original albums, you might want to start with one of those, especially since I’ve always considered them to be more of a song band than an album band.

Their first compilation, 1979’s 2-cd set Gold & Platinum, is probably still the best, and for hardcore fans I’d highly recommend the 3-cd box set Lynyrd Skynyrd, a model set that has all their big hits in addition to many choice rarities. As for the post-1987 “comeback” version of the band with Ronnie’s younger brother Johnny on vocals (and later Medlocke and The Outlaws’ Hughie Thomasson on guitars), I don’t really know enough about them to comment, though someone I greatly respect dismisses them as being “a retread cover band.”

Regardless, it is the Ronnie-led version of the band who are deservedly legendary – forget the silly Confederate flag waving and their redneck image, Lynyrd Skynyrd was a great band – though drugs and overwork took their toll somewhat during their middle period – who could’ve become even greater had one of rock music’s greatest tragedies not befallen them right after recording one of their best albums.

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March 24, 2013 - Posted by | Lynyrd Skynyrd The Complete Muscle Shoals Album |

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