Classic Rock Review

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Lynyrd Skynyrd Street Survivors (1977)


Obviously, everyone has heard of Lynyrd Skynyrd. Whether it be a die-hard fan, or a cynic determined to criticize the band for being drawling southernor’s that produced songs like “Free Bird” and “Sweet Home Alabama”. Those two songs, actually, will probably haunt Lynyrd Skynyrd’s career for the rest of time. I mean, if it’s in a KFC commercial, it’s not going to die. Despite those songs though, Lynyrd Skynyrd’s album tracks, and albums as a whole, have been rather good.

Street Survivors was Lynyrd Skynyd’s last album, before regrouping in 1987. It was released just three days before the infamous and tragic plane crash in Mississippi, in 1977, that claimed Ronnie Van Zant, Steve Gaines, Cassie Gaines, and manager Dean Kilpatrick’s lives. Too many, and especially myself, it is Lynyrd Skynyrd’s best, and most diverse album.

“What’s Your Name” is an extremely catchy tune about a bar fight involving one of their roadies. The production is rather clean, and horn parts add an extra punch that makes the song even better. The song is almost instantly recognizable if you have heard it, and if you haven’t, you may think that you have heard it before, but you could never quite put your finger on it. “That Smell” is fairly reminiscent of Gimme Back My Bullets in the sense that the production makes the song sound very dark, which matches with the lyrical content.

The lyrics of the song are based on an incident where Gary Rossington was driving under the influence, and passed out. He hit into a tree and did thousands of dollars of damage., and had almost died. Next, after the rather depressing “That Smell”, is “One More Time”. The song is actually one of the oldest Lynyrd Skynyrd songs, and predates most of their other songs. The song is fairly slow, with a strecthed out, almost crooning chorus, and adds diversity to the first side of the album. “I Know a Little” is a great, fast paced song. The opening almost sounds like Lynyrd Skynyrd had suddenly become interested in big band music, but the song goes into the normal Lynyrd Skynyrd fare.

The second half of the album is, surprisingly, just as good as the opening half. “You Got That Right” is another upbeat Lynyrd Skynyrd rocker, similar to “What’s Your Name” and “I Know a Little”. Although it isn’t the best track on the album, it keeps the flow perfectly and adds to the happy mindset that they were in at the time. “I Never Dreamed” is an introspective ballad that deals with the priorities Ronnie now faced after the birth of his daughter, Melody. To end the album, we have two more, good songs. The cover of a Merle Haggard song in “Honky Tonk Night Time Man”. Although it is a good song, I don’t think it belongs on the album, and does not fit well with the rest of the songs. “Ain’t No Good Life” ends the album on a more upbeat note, as is most of the album, and is a great way to end the album, and seems like a great farewell, even if it wasn’t purposefully like that.

In conclusion, I think that this is Lynyrd Skynyrd’s best album. With the addition of Steve Gaines, the band had gained confidence and were happy about their place in the world, and it shows in the songs. It’s sad that they have never really been able to produce something as good as this since then. Sure, the album isn’t always recognized or mentioned among casual Lynyrd Skynyrd fans. Sure, they weren’t the raw, boozed up band. But this is definately their best album.

March 24, 2013 Posted by | Lynyrd Skynyrd Street Survivors | | Leave a comment