Released September 1973
Running time 43.03
This was the debut album from Alabama’s Lynyrd Skynyrd. It is full of muscular, often slowish-paced bluesy rock, as you would expect - drums, guitars and rollicking bar-room piano topped off with Ronnie Van Zant’s rousing, charismatic Bourbon-sodden vocals. The sound is a bit rough and ready in places but hell, just turn it up, buddy. Ain’t no goddamn audiophiles round these parts, boy. Having said that, I have an old copy of the album, the latest remaster of it is excellent, so there you go.
1. I Ain’t The One
2. Tuesday’s Gone
3. Gimme Three Steps
4. Simple Man
5. Things Goin’ On
6. Mississippi Kid
7. Poison Whiskey
8. Free Bird
I Ain’t The One is a typical chugging piece of Skynyrd bluesy rock of the sort they would make a career on. Tuesday’s Gone is the first example of the slow-burning, anthemic rock ballad that the band would do so well. It has vibe of The Rolling Stones’ bluesy material from Beggar’s Banquet about it, but with that uplifting, rousing BIG chorus too. The bit at 3:21 when it slows down slightly and the piano comes in is archetypal Skynyrd. The dénouement of the song is thoroughly wonderful and everything that was great about this band. They could take you to rock heaven. It is truly a magnificent song.
Gimme Three Steps is a riffy, chunky rocker with a huge, heavy bass sound that pounds straight out of your speakers with a huge thump. Lyrically, it has some of the wry humour that Skynyrd often injected into their songs. They even diversify the drum sound to include some congas too, surprisingly.
Simple Man is also the name of a Bad Company song and funnily enough this could easily be one. You could easily imagine Paul Rodgers singing this and instrumentally it sounds similar too, with that big, slow rumbling bass driving it inexorably along. Things Goin’ On is a piano-driven slice of Southern roadhouse rock. You can’t go too far wrong with this, can you, while Mississippi Kid is an authentic-sounding bottleneck blues straight out of the backwoods - Skynyrd could play the blues as well as rock. Poison Whiskey is rock, but it is solid bluesy rock. Apart from Gimme Three Steps, most of this album is slow paced but grindingly strong. While The Allman Brothers came along first in the South with their often extended, skilfully played blues jams, it was Skynyrd who really merged rock and anthemic hooks with the blues. This was not a commercial album, though, they still wanted to put out serious album material. They did just that here. It was highly credible, yet at times it could be singalong. Despite Skynyrd’s reputation as kick-ass rockers, though, I have always thought of this as an album of slow, swaggering, whiskey-drenched blues rock peppered with occasional irresistible hooks.
Oh did I forget Free Bird? Over nine minutes of classic seventies, Southern rock. It has all the ingredients - a brooding build to the anthemic “I can’t change” chorus parts, killer guitar and finally rock-out ending with the drums on fire and the band rocking full pelt. No arguments here. Classic fare.
Skynyrd never really changed that much, either before or after their tragic accident. You knew what you were going to get. Fine by me.