As debut albums go this is a stellar release from Lynyrd Skynyrd, a mix of blues, hard rock, bluegrass and southern rock, spawning at least four classic songs.
Written by: DavidShaw
ARTIST: Lynyrd Skynyrd
ALBUM: (Pronounced ‘Lĕh-‘nérd ‘Skin-‘nérd)
CD REISSUE: Discogs Reissue List
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: USA
LINEUP: Ronnie Van Zant – vocals * Allen Collins – guitar * Gary Rossington – guitar * Ed King – guitar * Billy Powell – piano, keyboards * Leon Wilkeson – bass * Bob Burns – drums
TRACK LISTING: 01 I Ain’t The One * 02 Tuesday’s Gone * 03 Gimme Three Steps * 04 Simple Man * 05 Things Goin’ On * 06 Mississippi Kid * 07 Poison Whiskey * 08 Free Bird
WEBLINKS: Site Link
Most regular readers on this site know my love for Southern Rock. I was 15 years old when Ronnie, Steve Gaines and his sister Cassie died. I was into Black Sabbath, Judas Priest and AC/DC at the time. Only starting to take notice of bands coming out of the USA via Sounds magazine.
I had heard of Lynyrd Skynyrd, but it was not until I saw the Old Grey Whistle Test clip of them at Knebworth, playing ‘Freebird’ that I really started to take note. And by that time it was too late. Having just seen them for the first time in 2014, a 36-year wait I hasten to add.
I thought I would start looking at the back catalogue. And where better to start with this, their debut. Released in 1973, it features several of the band’s most well-known songs, including ‘Gimme Three Steps’, ‘Simple Man’ and ‘Freebird’.
The latter of which launched the band to national stardom and introduced would-be Lynyrd Skynyrd fans to their raucous southern boogie, blues-rock sound with its gritty three guitar attack and Ronnie Van Zant’s blue-collar vocals – a sound that would be heard worldwide on The Who‘s 1973 ‘Quadraphenia’ tour, on which Lynyrd Skynyrd were the opening act.
Al Kooper‘s greatest contribution to rock 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 70’s. Named after a gym teacher that did not like their long hair (named Leonard Skinner), these renegades, from the tough neighbourhood of West Jacksonville, Florida, came through with a hard-nosed classic right from the get go.
Kicking off with ‘I Ain’t The One’ with its stomping drum beat intro, the song quickly builds into a hard hitting rocker, with Ronnie Van Zant delivering some aggressive style vocals. The guitar riff chugs along with some great lead guitar playing throughout the song.
‘Tuesdays Gone’ is up next, it’s been in the movies ‘Dazed and Confused’ and ‘Happy Gilmore’. ‘Tuesday’s Gone’ is the ballad from the album and I must say it’s an amazing song. Van Zant sings with a lot of emotion and the guitars just add the perfect feel to the song. The soulful, bluesy feel sees the band more sophisticated than I think they where given credit for.
‘Gimme Three Steps’ with two lead guitars laying down one groovy riff, Lynyrd Skynyrd show off a song formula that they will come to use for the next five years.
Next up ‘Simple Man’ has to be my favourite Skynyrd song ever. An exceptional power ballad, the band shows a lot of energy and power but it retains its hard-edge throughout the course. The vocals and lyrics are some of Skynyrd’s best. To cap it off there is a nice guitar solo at the end of the song.
‘Mississippi Kid’ is a nice bluesy acoustic track with some wonderful guitar and a slide guitar and harmonica solo, and is probably one of the weakest tracks on the album. It has an Allman Brothers influence which makes it a combination of delta blues and rock.
‘Free Bird’, what can I say that has not been said before about this song. Love it or hate it. I personally still enjoy hearing this song. Along with Led Zeppelin‘s ‘Stairway To Heaven’ it is still the ultimate rock classic.
It starts off with some great piano work from the late Billy Powell, the song builds up nicely with some blistering soloing from Allen Collins and Gary Rossington on slide guitar. A song written about the late Duane Allman, the said Knebworth performance still makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up.
As debut albums go this is a stellar release. A mix of blues, hard rock, bluegrass and southern rock, spawning at least four classic songs that stand out in their own way. Two songs that are still a crowd favourite are the hard-rocking ‘Free Bird’ and the honkytonk ‘Gimme Three Steps’.
Lynyrd Skynyrd sound full of fire and whisky on their debut but those good ol’ boys weren’t above shedding a tear or two. ‘Pronounced..’ is definitely a must-have for any rock fan to have in their collection.
Entire Album (Select Tracks)