Van Zant - Van Zant

Van Zant – Van Zant

88 / 100

Not withstanding the covers, Van Zant is an excellent sounding album, and is full-on in the traditional AOR style.

Written by: gdmonline

ARTIST: Van Zant
ALBUM: Van Zant
LABEL: Geffen
YEAR: 1985
CD REISSUE: Discogs Reissue List

LINEUP: Johnny Van Zant – vocals * Robbie Gay – guitars * Erik Lundgren – guitars * Danny Clausman – bass * Robbie Morris – drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Midnight Sensation * 02 She’s Out With A Gun * 03 I’m A Fighter * 04 You’ve Got To Believe In Love * 05 Two Strangers * 06 2 + 2 * 07 Heart To The Flame * 08 Does A Fool Ever Learn * 09 Right On Time * 10 Lonely Girls


Perhaps they were sick of being stereo-typed as a typical southern rock band a la Lynyrd Skynyrd, Molly Hatchet etc. Van Zant the band had up until this point been a reasonable radio friendly southern band, with more than a foot in the AOR/melodic rock camp.

Their previous efforts were OK, and I own a few of them myself, but with this self titled effort on a new label Geffen, we see a complete move into the pure ranks of AOR, and they bust the door down with both feet this time, to release a lovely melodic rock album, lauded by critics and fans alike.

I suspect a couple of reasons behind the move. Firstly, the success of .38 Special as a radio oriented band. Secondly, having Rodney Mills at the production helm (.38 Special‘s principal producer), and thirdly a new label Geffen, riding high on the success of label mates Aerosmith, Asia, Wang Chung and Sammy Hagar.

The band have also taken a new look, this time getting the AOR image and clothes just right, and not looking like down-home southern rockers as they were previously.

The Songs

The album is a mixture of self penned tracks, plus covers/co-writes, though the ratio is 7-3 in favour of covers/co-writes. A bit of a worry really, but perhaps another reason for the drastic change in preceding? However, the best track on the album is a Van Zant written one, and it’s the opener ‘Midnight Sensation’ an all-out southern fried rocker with keyboards buzzing in from all quarters. Glorious stuff.

Meanwhile we get ‘2+2’ an RPM track, ‘A Fool Never Learns’ which is an Eddie Schwartz song also covered by Helix, ‘I’m A Fighter’ written by Jimi Jamison and Mandy Meyer for the Cobra session which never made it onto the ‘First Strike’ album. This one was also done by Ray Roper (Stonebolt).

‘Heart To The Flame’ is another well known track, featuring on Jeff Paris‘ ‘Wired Up’ opus, while ‘You’ve Got To Believe In Love’ is a Bill LaBounty (West Coast muso) co-write.

In Summary

Not withstanding the covers, Van Zant is an excellent sounding album, and is full-on in the traditional AOR style. Initially a very hard album to track down, but now available via Unidisc (Canada). Check them out.

Van Zant on Video

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