Classic Rock Review

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Lynyrd Skynyrd Gimme Back My Bullets (1976)

FrontalFrom Melody Maker

For such a great continent, America has given the outside world very few real rock and roll bands.

Many have watered down the true essence of rock to the point where it lacks attack. Lynyrd Skynyrd are one of the few exceptions.

Not many bands around play with such an earthy passion. The music is from the roots and gives the band a distinctive deep South sound, a sound that has, for the first time been captured effectively on record on this, their fourth album.

None of the three previous albums have come anywhere near capturing the potential of this wild bunch. Al Kooper, who produced them, didn’t show too much sympathy. Tom Dowd, who produced this LP, has managed commendably to discipline them and harnes the talent. Dowd has cleaned the sound considerably, but not too much. The grittiness that sets Skynyrd apart is still very evident. He’s put instruments in the proper perspective – lead guitars are heard only when necessary, the rhythm section is given a body that it previously lacked. It’s the first album Skynyrd have done without third guitarist Ed King, who quit during last year, and they’ve tailored their work so well that he is not missed. Gary Rossington and Allen Collins deal effectively with guitars, creating a beautiful marriage.

The band sound as a whole is more distinct than on any other album, due to the excellent vocals of Ronnie Van Zant. His unique offhand style must earn him a place with other great rock vocalists of today. Those vocals, combined with guitars that play mostly lead, set Skynyrd up as an outstanding rock band. The album’s failings are on side one. I’m left on occasions with the impression that Skynyrd are strangely trying to manufacture an anthem, bidding to record another ‘Freebird’ or ‘Sweet Home Alabama’. ‘Every Mother’s Son’ and ‘Trust’ are the tracks which offend. But the last track on that side ‘(I Got The) Same Old Blues’ by J. J. Cale could reach such status. The number is given a tremendous treatment – slide guitar on top of an infectious riff, a sluggish drum beat, a stop, and then Van Zant enters on vocals. The best track on the album.

The second side is virtually without fault. Skynyrd play at their best on songs which suit their style perfectly. It opens with the raunchy ‘Double Trouble’, with a female chorus adding the guts. The number was featured on the band’s last British tour. A screeching guitar solo opens ‘Searching’, another magnificent track. Drums are brought up in the mix to match the guitar work and thump the message home. The redoubtable Artimus Pyle, drummer, is at his crispest. ‘Cry For The Bad Man’ vies with ‘Same Old Blues’ for the honours. Again, it builds slowly to a crescendo, with the bass work of Leon Wilkeson well to the forefront. The highlight of the track comes with a joint lead from Rossington and Collins, notes come screaming out of the speakers. Gimme Back My Bullets will win Skynyrd many new fans in Britain. Southern Fried Boogie rules, okay.

March 31, 2013 Posted by | Lynyrd Skynyrd Gimme Back My Bullets | | Leave a comment