Lynyrd Skynyrd – Second Helping (1974)

FrontCover1.jpgSecond Helping is the second studio album by Lynyrd Skynyrd, released April 15, 1974. It featured the band’s biggest hit single, “Sweet Home Alabama,” an answer song to Neil Young’s “Alabama” and “Southern Man”.[2] The song reached #8 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in August 1974. This L.P. was the last to feature Bob Burns on drums.

The album reached #12 on the Billboard album charts. It was certified Gold on September 20, 1974, Platinum and 2x Platinum on July 21, 1987 by the RIAA.

After the success of debut (Pronounced ‘Lĕh-‘nérd ‘Skin-‘nérd), Lynyrd Skynyrd’s fan base continued to grow rapidly throughout 1973, largely due to their opening slot on the Who’s Quadrophenia tour in the United States. Second Helping features King, Collins and Rossington all collaborating with Ronnie Van Zant on the songwriting, and cemented the band’s breakthrough.

Reviewing for Rolling Stone in 1974, Gordon Fletcher said Lynyrd Skynyrd performs a consistent style of Southern music-influenced blues rock similar to the Allman Brothers Band but lacks that group’s “sophistication and professionalism. If a song doesn’t feel right to the Brothers, they work on it until it does; if it isn’t right to Lynyrd Skynyrd, they are more likely to crank up their amps and blast their way through the bottleneck.” Fletcher concluded that Second Helping is distinct from (Pronounced ‘Lĕh-‘nérd ‘Skin-‘nérd) “only by a certain mellowing out that indicates they may eventually acquire a level of savoirfaire to realize their many capabilities”. Robert Christgau was also lukewarm in Creem, saying Lynyrd Skynyrd is “still a substantial, tasteful band, but I have a hunch they blew their best stuff on the first platter.”

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Christgau warmed to the album later, however, reappraising it in Christgau’s Record Guide: Rock Albums of the Seventies (1981); he observed “infectious putdowns of rock businessmen, rock journalists, and heroin”, and “great formula” in general: “When it rocks, three guitarists and a keyboard player pile elementary riffs and feedback noises into dense combinations broken by preplanned solos, while at quieter moments the spare vocabulary of the best Southern folk music is evoked or just plain duplicated. Houston Press named it in #2 on its list “Five Essential Boogie-Rock Albums.” (by wikipedia)

Singles

Lynyrd Skynyrd wrote the book on Southern rock with their first album, so it only made sense that they followed it for their second album, aptly titled Second Helping. Sticking with producer Al Kooper (who, after all, discovered them), the group turned out a record that replicated all the strengths of the original, but was a little tighter and a little more professional. It also revealed that the band, under the direction of songwriter Ronnie Van Zant, was developing a truly original voice. Of course, the band had already developed their own musical voice, but it was enhanced considerably by Van Zant’s writing, which was at turns plainly poetic, surprisingly clever, and always revealing. Though Second Helping isn’t as hard a rock record as Pronounced, it’s the songs that make the record. “Sweet Home Alabama” became ubiquitous, yet it’s rivaled by such terrific songs as the snide, punkish “Workin’ for MCA,” the Southern groove of “Don’t Ask Me No Questions,” the affecting “The Ballad of Curtis Loew,” and “The Needle and the Spoon,” a drug tale as affecting as their rival Neil Young’s “Needle and the Damage Done,” but much harder rocking. This is the part of Skynyrd that most people forget — they were a great band, but they were indelible because that was married to great writing. And nowhere was that more evident than on Second Helping. (by Stephen Thomas Erlewine)

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Personnel:
Bob Burns (drums)
Allen Collins (guitar)
Ed King (guitar, background vocals, bass on 02. + 03.)
Billy Powell (keyboards)
Gary Rossington (guitar)
Leon Wilkeson (bass, background vocals)
Ronnie Van Zant (vocals)
+
Al Kooper (piano,  background vocals on 03. + 05.)
Mike Porter (drums on 02.)
+
horns on 03. + 08.:
Bobby Keys – Trevor Lawrence – Steve Madaio
+
background vocals on 01.:
Merry Clayton – Clydie King – Sherlie Matthews

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Tracklist:
01. Sweet Home Alabama (King/Rossington /Van Zant) 4.44
02. I Need You (King/Rossington /Van Zant) 6.55
03. Don’t Ask Me No Questions (Rossington/Van Zant) 3.27
04. Workin’ for MCA (King/Van Zant) 4.50
05. The Ballad Of Curtis Loew (Collins/Van Zant) 4.51
06. Swamp Music (King/Van Zant) 3.31
07. The Needle And The Spoon (Collins/Van Zant) 3.53
08. Call Me The Breeze (Cale) 5.07

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Ronnie Van Zant
Ronnie Van Zant (January 15, 1948 – October 20, 1977)

Big wheels keep on turning
Carry me home to see my kin
Singing songs about the Southland
I miss Alabamy once again
And I think its a sin, yes

Well I heard mister Young sing about her
Well, I heard ole Neil put her down
Well, I hope Neil Young will remember
A Southern man don’t need him around anyhow

Sweet home Alabama
Where the skies are so blue
Sweet Home Alabama
Lord, I’m coming home to you

In Birmingham they love the governor
Now we all did what we could do
Now Watergate does not bother me
Does your conscience bother you?
Tell the truth

Sweet home Alabama
Where the skies are so blue
Sweet Home Alabama
Lord, I’m coming home to you
Here I come Alabama

Now Muscle Shoals has got the Swampers
And they’ve been known to pick a song or two
Lord they get me off so much
They pick me up when I’m feeling blue
Now how about you?

Sweet home Alabama
Where the skies are so blue
Sweet Home Alabama
Lord, I’m coming home to you

Sweet home Alabama
Oh sweet home baby
Where the skies are so blue
And the governor’s true
Sweet Home Alabama
Lordy
Lord, I’m coming home to you
Yea, yea Montgomery’s got the answer

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