ARTIST: Lynyrd Skynyrd
TITLE: (Pronounced ‘Lĕh-‘nérd ‘Skin-‘nérd)
YEAR RELEASED: 1974
CHART ACTION: #27
SINGLES: Gimme Three Steps, Free Bird (#19 US, #31 UK)
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: I Ain’t the One, Simple Man, Tuesday’s Gone
LINEUP: Ronnie van Zant, Gary Rossington, Allen Collins, Ed King, Billy Powell, Bob Burns.
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: After years of grinding it out, the Skynyrd debut album is released and makes them household names thanks to one long long song.
SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: It seems odd that there was rock-and-roll before “Free Bird” became a thing, but it wasn’t until 1974 that “Free Bird” was heard unless you were a select few you knew of Lynyrd Skynyrd when they were unsigned.
This album is more than that one song. Much, much, more. The first side: “I Ain’t the One”, “Tuesday’s Gone”, “Gimme Three Steps”, “Simple Man” is quite possibly one of the best debut sides ever. “Tuesday’s Gone” shows the versatility of the group from the piano playing of Billy Powell (secret weapon in all actuality), and a band not afraid to show sentimentality along with their southern-fried rock.
While the first couple of tracks on Side 2 aren’t the greatest, the entire debut album as a whole is thrilling. Southern rock and “Free Bird” get a bad rep, and the Stars ‘N’ Bars isn’t probably the wisest choice for a band image, but you can’t deny the music. This is fantastic.
NOTES & MINUTIAE: Al Kooper played mellotron and helped on some tracks. King was added to the band as original bassist Leon Wilkeson left the group briefly, but came back after the album was recorded. The band decided to go with three guitars for a while, which was a wise choice.
IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, some demos are appended to a re-release.
GRADE: A: Almost an A+. Side one definitely is.