The first Friday of each month Dirty Impound will celebrate one of our favorite albums with a mix bookended by cuts from the inspirational record and a selection of tunes that tap into the feel of the original work – lyrically, musically, attitudinally, however-ly. The goal is not to present bands that sound like the spotlight artist but to surround them with music pulsing on a kindred wavelength.
Well, have you ever lived down in the ghetto?
Have you ever felt the cold wind blow?
Well, if you don’t know what I mean
Won’t you stand up and scream
‘Cause there’s things goin’ on that you don’t know
The hard, unsmiling faces that stare out from the cover of 1973’s (Pronounced ‘lĕh-‘nérd ‘skin-‘nérd) are that of a gang. The needle doesn’t need to hit the groove for one to know not to mess with these guys, who in the first tune declare their reasonableness to a lover by pointing out, “I never hurt you, sweetheart, never pulled my gun.” Yikes. Yet, Lynyrd Skynyrd had a sensitive side, a romantic bent they did nothing to disguise any part of the truth of these simple men with some great music to throw into the world. Streetwise, scarred (scared, too) and scrappy as fuck, Skynyrd emerged ready to tussle and possessed of abundant heart and muscle with a sharp musical edge that instantly set them apart even in a period with a lot of standouts. There is a rugged honesty to every aspect of this album, which is also flecked with tenderness and some of the most eloquent guitar work rock has ever witnessed.
The arrangements and execution have a precise vision and exactness that has rarely been duplicated by the group’s many imitators. Producer Al Kooper has remarked that lead singer-lyricst “Ronnie [Van Zandt] ran that band with an iron hand.” Tales of bandmates being slapped for inferior takes are part of the mythology of these sessions, but it’s hard to question the results. Few bands have ever arrived so completely together, so much themselves that everything that followed retained the intrinsic character of this first step – all to the good of the music. Guitarist Allen Collins once said, “We are just simple, common people who are not trying to be big actors. We’re trying to get people off, just trying to be good.” Their commitment to simple truths delivered with earthy nuance and undeniable power makes this album one of THE great debut outings.
And yes, it contains “Free Bird,” a song that nearly any band would give their eye teeth to have written regardless of all the pop culture baggage it now carries. Like much about the band as it exists in the 21st century, it’s sometimes hard to see the pulverizing originality they once possessed in light of the Southern flag waving nostalgia machine that currently sports their name. Set that aside and revisit (Pronounced ‘lĕh-‘nérd ‘skin-‘nérd) with fresh ears. While birthed during the time of Nixon and Watergate, there is something eerily timely about this album in 2012. (Dennis Cook)
If you experience playback problems, pop over to the 8tracks mix page and it should play fine.
Classic Vibe III Track Listing
- Tuesday’s Gone – Lynyrd Skynyrd
- Reminds Me Of A Way – Antler
- Time For Your Medicine – Powder Mill
- Roll Um Easy – Linda Ronstadt
- Give It To Me – Grayson Capps
- Gravity’s Gone – Drive-By Truckers
- The Ante – Daybreakdown
- No Sign of Water – The Damnations TX
- Ain’t Got Time – Jonathan Edwards
- Drop Down Mama – Tom Rush
- Lonesome, On’ry and Mean – Waylon Jennings
- Talking To Myself – Barbara Cue
- Toasted – Johnny Neel and The Criminal Element
- Chug All Night – Eagles
- Mama Rocker – Michael Nesmith & The Second National Band
- Down In The Track – Doobie Brothers
- I Ain’t The One – Lynyrd Skynyrd