Classic Rock Review

The home of old record and bootleg reviews…

Lynyrd Skynyrd Pronounced Leh-Nerd Skin-Nerd (1973)

MI0001750419From sfloman.com

Al Kooper’s greatest contribution to rock was not magically delivering the keyboard intro to “Like a Rolling Stone,” spearheading the influential first Blood, Sweat & Tears and Super Session albums, or rescuing The Zombies’ Odessey and Oracle from the scrap heap, among his numerous accomplishments.

Rather, it was discovering and then nurturing the talents of Lynyrd Skynyrd (he produced their first three albums), one of the greatest American rock bands of the seventies and probably the second greatest “Southern rock” band ever (after the Allman Brothers Band, of course).

Named after a gym teacher they loathed (named Leonard Skinner), these redneck ruffians came through with a hard-nosed classic right from the gate, not the least because of the 9-minute “Freebird,” one of rock’s signature songs (fittingly written in tribute to the late great Duane Allman) and the ultimate extended guitar epic.

Starting off touchingly lyrical – love the Hammond organ, weepy guitars, and group leader Ronnie Van Zant’s soulful lead vocals – but then turning fast and furious, the song showcases Skynyrd’s stun gun drumming (Bob Burns) and especially their signature multi-guitar attack (Allen Collins and Gary Rossington plus Ed King on bass), who duel unmercifully until the listener can’t help but be exhausted yet thrilled at the same time.

Sure, the song is seriously over-played, and yeah it can be annoying hearing some drunk numbskull shout out “Freebird” at damn near every concert, but if you don’t think that this song is one of rock’s all-time anthems, well you’re just flat-out wrong! Nah, you’re entitled to your opinion, but that’s certainly my opinion, and though that song alone ensures this album of classic status, there are two other A+ caliber tracks that I consider all-time classics of their type.

The soulful, mournful, bluesy ballad “Tuesday’s Gone” is another great epic-scale track (7:30) that shows the band (with help from Kooper) to be far more sophisticated (both musically and lyrically) than generally given credit for, while the excellent power ballad “Simple Man” honestly and heartwarmingly states a mother’s simple wish for the son that she loves.

Man, if everybody would just heed his mom’s words of wisdom the world would be a much better place, and both of these tracks move me immensely, it’s as simple as that.

The rest of the album can’t keep pace with those terrific tunes, but not for a lack of trying, as album opener “I Ain’t The One” and later “Poison Whiskey” present a pair of agreeably tough, hard-hitting rockers.

The catchy n’ clever “Gimme Three Steps” is also extremely catchy even if it’s also overplayed like several tracks here (courtesy of classic rock radio) and a bit too redneck-y. Still, contrary to widespread belief, Lynyrd Skynyrd often presented a thinking man’s brand of hard rock by virtue of singer Ronnie Van Zant’s hard won lyrics.

True, they do at times succumb to bouts of machismo (“Mississippi Kid” and the aforementioned “Poison Whiskey,” for example), but the tuneful barrelhouse piano (Billy Powel) on “Things Goin’ On” and the mandolin on “Mississippi Kid” (probably the two weakest tracks but both are still pretty good) attest to a rarely acknowledged versatility, as all of the band’s considerable strengths were already readily apparent on this classic debut album.

Advertisements

April 3, 2013 Posted by | Lynyrd Skynyrd Pronounced Leh-Nerd Skin-Nerd | | Leave a comment