ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, OCT. 30, 1987
By Steve Newton
If there was one band I would have killed (well, maimed anyway) to see in its original lineup, that band would have been Lynryd Skynryd, the pride of Jacksonville, Florida, and arguably the best southern rock band to come along.
That wish was shattered forever with the death of Ronnie Van Zant in the plane crash on October 20, 1977, but ten years later, the next best thing has resurfaced. Van Zant’s younger brother Johnny has gotten together with most of the original Skynyrd members, and they’re back out on the road, touring and playing those oh-so-special tunes from the band’s glory days.
And to coincide with the Lynyrd Skynyrd tour–which opened September 6 in Nashville with the Charlie Daniels Volunteer Jam–the group has released Legend, a new album of little-heard b-sides and previously unreleased tracks from the good old days.
Although not in the same league as the band’s best albums (Second Helping and Street Survivors), Legend does include a couple of tracks that are right up there with the old classics. “Truck Drivin’ Man”, the b-side of their 1974 single “Don’t Ask Me No Questions”, is a rollicking stomper along the lines of Street Survivors‘ “What’s Your Name”.
My other favourite track on Legend is “One in the Sun”, which was written and sung by Steve Gaines, another casualty of the ’77 plane crash. It’s an evocative, bluesy number full of the soaring, heartfelt lead licks that Lynyrd Skynyrd was famous for. The song is actually a demo tape from Gaines’ original band, and was re-recorded with the current Skynyrd lineup.
Other oddities that true Skynyrd fans will want to have in their collections are the slide-infested “Mr. Banker” (the flip side of “Gimme Three Steps”) and a live concert version of “Simple Man” recorded at the Fox Theatre in Atlanta.