Thursday, April 15, 2010

 

Album of the Day: Lynyrd Skynyrd (4/15/74) 36 Years!

Lynyrd Skynyrd’s #2 LP, the aptly titled Second Helping, was served up on April 15, 1974. It’s now widely considered a first-tier 70s Southern rock album, right up alongside the several releases by the god-band, Georgia-based Allman Brothers Band. But Skynyrd cooked up a grittier, harder-edged platter of Southern blues-rock. Many will argue that they were the real Southern rockers (even when Allman fans chime in). Whatever your bend, Southern rock peaked about the same time Second Helping. It is unquestionably a showcase album.

For a young-but-bar-scene-seasoned band, Skynyrd explored the edges with “Sweet Home Alabama” and “Workin’ For MCA.” The former’s a now-classic retort to Neil Young’s self-righteous condemnation of southern American history (sings Skynyrd’s Ronnie Van Zant: “we don’t need him around, anyhow”). The second’s a thinly-veiled shot at their growing dissatisfaction with the music business (guys, aren’t you biting the hand that feeds you?). Add the spunky “Don’t Ask Me No More Questions,” the rocking drug-fest of “Needle And The Spoon” and a Dr. Rock-favorite in the rollicking “Call Me The Breeze,” and Second Helping’s everything is billed to be – first-rate, kick-ass Southern guitar rock.

Like its predecessor (Pronounced Leh-nerd Skin-nerd), Second Helping was produced by Al Kooper, the terribly under-appreciated but still-legendary blues-rock god (founder and leader of The Blues Project and Blood, Sweat & Tears) and producer for the 60s pop-rockers The Zombies, among others. Kooper coaxed the best out of Van Zant and his bandmates. The result really is one of the best Southern blues-rock albums of all-time.

Second Helping reached #12 on the Billboard album charts. Skynyrd’s in the Playlist Vault and Second Helping can be downloaded from Amazon and iTunes.

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Friday, February 12, 2010

 

Album of the Day: Allman Brothers (2/12/72) 38 Years!


The band’s tribute to departed brother Duane, the Allman Brothers released Eat A Peach on February 12, 1972. Duane had died in a collision between his motorcycle and a flatbed lumber truck (not a peach truck as commonly thought) on October 29, 1971, and the double album included a mixture of studio tracks recorded before his death, live cuts from the Fillmore concerts in early 1971 that were not included on the terrific Live At The Fillmore collection from July 1971, and a handful of new songs completed in the studio by the band in the weeks following the accident. (For a 25 song playlist of the best of the Allman Brothers, visit Dr. Rock’s Playlist Vault here).

By mixing live jams and studio tracks, Eat A Peach creates the quintessential Allman Brothers Band collection. From boogie-rock (“One Way Out”) to jazz-rock instrumental interplay (“Les Brers In A Minor”) to inspirational piano-guitar rock (“Blue Sky”) to plaintive folk-rock (“Melissa”) to acoustic simplicity (“Little Martha”), the album highlights the exceptional range and capabilities of the ABB as a tight-playing group and as individual artists. Duane’s slide guitar virtuosity is showcased on “Mountain Jam,” a 2-side, 33-plus minute rendition of the ABB’s take on Donovan’s “First There Is A Mountain.” Although it’s quite long for casual fans of the band, it’s a great track that’s even better when compared to the less polished version the band released in 1991 on the Live At Ludlow Garage 1970 retrospective CD.

Eat A Peach is one of my favorites and is available for purchase as a CD or download as mp3 files on Amazon (click here) or as iPod downloads at iTunes (click here).

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