The legendary southern rockers are set to release a beautifully packaged vinyl box set next month.
Entitled simply Vinyl Box Set 1973-1977, this impressive collection contains, as one might expect, all of the official albums the hugely influential Florida-based septet put out between 1973’s stunning debut, (Pronounced ‘Leh-‘nerd ‘Skin-‘nerd) and 1977’s pre-plane crash masterpiece, Street Survivors.
Despite losing three key members in that infamous crash of October 20th 1977,including larger-than-life lead singer Ronnie Van Zant, Skynyrd remain active to this day, despite the fact that only guitarist Gary Rossington remains from the classic line-up.
So good it could almost be a ‘best of,’ (Pronounced ‘Leh-‘nerd ‘Skin-‘nerd), introduced the explosive power of the band (at that point consisting of Van Zant, guitarists Rossington, Allen Collins and Ed King, bassist Leon Wilkeson, keyboardist Billy Powelland drummer Bob Burns) to music fans who were perhaps hungry for a return to a rough ‘n’ ready, guitar-based sound, following the pyschedelic experimentation of the late 1960s.
“I Aint The One,” “Tuesday’s Gone,” “Gimme Three Steps,” “Simple Man” and, of course, “Free Bird,” the timeless standards – and the cocksure swagger of a band brimming with confidence – found on this album make it hard to believe that this was their debut; the sound of them announcing their presence to the world.
And they had a pretty good go at equalling the success of it on their sophomore album, Second Helping, in 1974, another brilliant batch of songs that again showcased their irresistible sound and gifted musicianship.
This time, “Workin’ For MCA,” “Call Me The Breeze,” “The Needle And The Spoon” and the ever-popular “Sweet Home Alabama,” were the stand-out tracks on what was another textbook example of what, for me, southern rock should sound like.
Skynyrd’s struggled to quite reach the high standard set by their first two offerings on 1975’s Nuthin’ Fancy (the first to feature new drummer, Artimus Pyle), but as the first two albums were so great, following it was always going to be a difficult task.
1976 saw the release of Gimme Back My Bullets, Skynyrd’s fourth record in as many years. It’s pretty good and includes more solid tunes, such as “Every Mother’s Son,” “Searching” and “Cry For The Bad Man.”
One More From The Road (the debut appearance of guitar prodigy Steve Gaines, who had replaced Ed King), also from 1976, is a satisfying live album that highlights what this hard-living group, who at that time were barely off the road, sounded like on stage.
After a couple of lacklustre releases, Street Survivors from 1977 was a blistering return to form. Songs like “That Smell,” “I Know A Little,” “What’s Your Name?” and “You Got That Right” are some of the first tracks mentioned when it comes to reflecting on their very best material.
Street Survivors also featured 28 year old guitarist/vocalist/songwriter Steve Gaines in a much more prominent role, making his death in the plane crash (alongside Van Zant, assistant road manager Dean Kilpatrick, pilot Walter McCreary, co-pilot William Gray and his older sister, Cassie) that occured just three days after the album hit the shelves, all the more tragic. Who knows what he would have gone on to achieve?
Still a much-cherished national institution, the band got back together with Ronnie Van Zant’s younger brother, Johnny, on vocals in 1987 for what was originally intended to be a one-off tribute. They continue to this day – and are still very much in demand on the live circuit – but have never again hit the exalted heights of these first six albums.
Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Vinyl Box Set will be available from January 26th 2015.
For more information on the band, visit their official website.