And this week we’re focusing on the peerless Lynyrd Skynyrd as the original Southern Rockers enjoy the re-release of their classic early albums – on remastered heavyweight vinyl!
The brand new deluxe vinyl box set features all of the band’s Big Five – (Pronounced ‘L?h-‘nérd ‘Skin-‘nérd), Second Helping, Nuthin’ Fancy, Gimme Back My Bullets and Street Survivors.
And as a bonus for fans of a band into its sixth decade there’s the definitive double live masterpiece, One More From The Road.
Formed in 1964, it was nine years before debut (Pronounced ‘L?h-‘nérd ‘Skin-‘nérd) (8/10) dropped. But it was well worth the wait with the eight-track album featuring perennial favourites Tuesday’s Gone, Gimme Three Steps, Simple Man and the evocative Free Bird.
But Free Bird wasn’t an instant hit – released more than 18 months after it was originally recorded. Clocking in at more than nine minutes on the band’s debut album, it was dramatically culled to just three minutes as a radio edit in November 1974. But for the majority of fans the full version – featured on the deluxe vinyl boxset – is the only version.
Sweet Home Alabama, from Second Helping (9/10) had already charted inside the Billboard Top 10 by the time Skynyrd went back to future with Free Bird‘s release. The standout track from their second long player, SHA opened things up in fine style on a record that’s more about the sum of its parts than the individual songs.
The newly remastered vinyl versions of The Ballad Of Curtis Loew and Call Me The Breeze sound warmer than ever more than 40 years down the line on the album that confirmed Skynyrd as serious players on the US rock scene.
Less than a year later and Nuthin’ Fancy (6/10) stormed the Billboard Top 10 but compared to its predecessors it was a case of quantity at the expense of quality. Opener and minor hit Saturday Night Special remains a fan favourite but the album title and mid-set filler Am I Losin’ couldn’t be more apt for a band that had, temporarily, lost its mojo.
Thankfully a gutsy return to form arrived in the shape of 1976’s Gimme Back My Bullets (10/10) – a superb album delivered in every way and given the remastering treatment tracks like Every Mother’s Son , the brilliant Double Trouble and evocative Cry For The Bad Man bristle with attitude, passion and creative zeal.
By the time Street Survivors (8/10) hit the streets 18 months later hopes were high that Skynyrd were set for decades of dominance on both sides of the Pond. Three days after its release, however, the infamous plane crash that ripped the heart out of the band ultimately led to a long lay-off and years of soul searching. Prophetic set closer Ain’t No Good Life still ranks alongside That Smell as one of the band’s finest back catalogue cuts.
Wrapping things up for turntable addicts is the double One More From The Road (8/10) – a live Best Of that pre-dated Street Survivors and showcases a band at the peak of their powers. Even if you’ve listened to this seminal release scores of times beef give it one more whirl on heavyweight vinyl – and prepared to be amazed. Featuring the best ever version of Free Bird, it’s a thrilling record of a rock institution.
But the Lynyrd Skynyrd Deluxe Vinyl Boxset here.