Thursday, August 9, 2012

Lynyrd Skynyrd - Second Helping (1974 us, classic 2nd album, 24karat Gold CD and japan expanded edition)

Lynyrd Skynyrd wrote the book on Southern rock with their first album, so it only made sense that they followed it for their second album, aptly titled Second Helping. Sticking with producer Al Kooper (who, after all, discovered them), the group turned out a record that replicated all the strengths of the original, but was a little tighter and a little more professional. 

It also revealed that the band, under the direction of songwriter Ronnie Van Zant, was developing a truly original voice. Of course, the band had already developed their own musical voice, but it was enhanced considerably by Van Zant's writing, which was at turns plainly poetic, surprisingly clever, and always revealing. 

Though Second Helping isn't as hard a rock record as Pronounced, it's the songs that make the record. "Sweet Home Alabama" became ubiquitous, yet it's rivaled by such terrific songs as the snide, punkish "Workin' for MCA," the Southern groove of "Don't Ask Me No Questions," the affecting "The Ballad of Curtis Loew," and "The Needle and the Spoon," a drug tale as affecting as their rival Neil Young's "Needle and the Damage Done," but much harder rocking. 

This is the part of Skynyrd that most people forget -- they were a great band, but they were indelible because that was married to great writing. And nowhere was that more evident than on Second Helping. 
by Stephen Thomas Erlewine

1. Sweet Home Alabama (Ed King, Gary Rossington, Ronnie Van Zant) - 4:43
2. I Need You (King, Rossington, Van Zant) - 6:55
3. Don't Ask Me No Questions (Rossington, Van Zant) - 3:26
4. Workin' For Mca (King, Van Zant) - 4:49
5. The Ballad Of Curtis Loew (Allen Collins, Van Zant) - 4:51
6. Swamp Music (King, Van Zant) - 3:31
7. The Needle And The Spoon (Collins, Van Zant) - 3:53
8. Call Me The Breeze (J. J. Cale) - 5:09
9. Don't Ask Me No Questions (Single Version) (Rossington, Van Zant) - 3:31
10.Was I Right Or Wrong (Demo) (Rossington, Van Zant) - 5:33
11.Take Your Time (Demo) (Van Zant, King) - 7:29
Bonus tracks 9-11, appears only on the Japanese edition.

Lynyrd Skynyrd
*Ronnie Van Zant - Lead Vocals
*Gary Rossington - Rhythm,  Acoustic Guitar
*Allen Collins - Guitar
*Ed King - Guitar, Slide Guitar, Rhythm Guitar,  Bass
*Billy Powell - Keyboards, Piano On "Sweet Home Alabama"
*Leon Wilkeson - Bass
*Bob Burns - Drums Except "I Need You"
Additional Musicians
*Mike Porter - Drums On "I Need You"
*Clydie King, Sherlie Matthews - Background Vocals On "Sweet Home Alabama"
*Merry Clayton And Friends - Background Vocals On "Sweet Home Alabama"
*Bobby Keys, Trewor Lawrence ,  Steve Madiao - Horns
*Al Kooper - Backing Vocals, Piano

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Lynyrd Skynyrd - Pronounced Leh-Nerd Skin-Nerd (1973 us, classic debut album, Al Kooper production, bonus tracks remastered issue)

The Allman Brothers came first, but Lynyrd Skynyrd epitomized Southern rock. The Allmans were exceptionally gifted musicians, as much bluesmen as rockers. Skynyrd was nothing but rockers, and they were Southern rockers to the bone.

This didn't just mean that they were rednecks, but that they brought it all together -- the blues, country, garage rock, Southern poetry -- in a way that sounded more like the South than even The Allmans. And a large portion of that derives from their hard, lean edge, which was nowhere more apparent than on their debut album, Pronounced Leh-Nerd Skin-Nerd. Produced by Al Kooper, there are few records that sound this raw and uncompromising, especially records by debut bands.

Then again, few bands sound this confident and fully formed with their first record. Perhaps the record is stronger because it's only eight songs, so there isn't a wasted moment, but that doesn't discount the sheer strength of each song. Consider the opening juxtaposition of the rollicking "I Ain't the One" with the heartbreaking "Tuesday's Gone." Two songs couldn't be more opposed, yet Skynyrd sounds equally convincing on both. If that's all the record did, it would still be fondly regarded, but it wouldn't have been influential.

The genius of Skynyrd is that they un-self-consciously blended album-oriented hard rock, blues, country, and garage rock, turning it all into a distinctive sound that sounds familiar but thoroughly unique. On top of that, there's the highly individual voice of Ronnie Van Zant, a songwriter who isn't afraid to be nakedly sentimental, spin tales of the South, or to twist macho conventions with humor. And, lest we forget, while he does this, the band rocks like a motherf*cker. It's the birth of a great band that birthed an entire genre with this album.
by Stephen Thomas Erlewine

1. I Ain't The One (Gary Rossington, Ronnie Van Zant) – 3:53
2. Tuesday's Gone (Allen Collins, Rossington, Van Zant) – 7:32
3. Gimme Three Steps (Collins, Van Zant) – 4:30
4. Simple Man (Rossington, Van Zant) – 5:57
5. Things Goin' On (Rossington, Van Zant) – 5:00
6. Mississippi Kid (Al Kooper, Van Zant, Bob Burns) – 3:56
7. Poison Whiskey (Ed King, Van Zant) – 3:13
8. Free Bird (Collins, Van Zant) – 9:18
9. Mr. Banker (Demo) (Rossington, Van Zant, King) – 5:23
10.Down South Jukin' (Demo) (Rossington, Van Zant) – 2:57
11.Tuesday's Gone (Demo) (Rossington, Collins, Van Zant) – 7:56
12.Gimme Three Steps (Demo) (Collins, Van Zant) – 5:20
13.Free Bird (Demo) (Collins, Van Zant) – 11:09

Lynyrd Skynyrd
*Ronnie Van Zant – Lead Vocals, Lyrics
*Gary Rossington – Lead Guitar , Rhythm Guitar, Slide Guitar
*Allen Collins – Lead, Rhythm Guitar
*Ed King – Bass, Lead Guitar On "Mississippi Kid”
*Billy Powell – Keyboards
*Bob Burns – Drums
*Leon Wilkeson – Bass Guitar
Additional Musicians
*Al Kooper – Bass, Mellotron, Back-Up Harmony, Mandolin, Bass Drum, Organ, Mellotron
*Robert Nix – Drums On "Tuesday's Gone"
*Bobbye Hall – Percussion On "Gimme Three Steps", "Things Goin' On"
*Steve Katz – Harmonica On "Mississippi Kid"

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