Blackberry Smoke – The Whippoorwill (2012)

FrontCover1The Whippoorwill is the third studio album by American southern/country rock band Blackberry Smoke. It was released on August 14, 2012 through Southern Ground Records in the North America and on February 17, 2014 through Earache Records in Europe. The latter contained three additional live tracks; “Country Side of Life”, “Pretty Little Lie” and “Six Ways to Sunday”. (by wikipedia)

Atlanta, Georgia’s Blackberry Smoke does upward of 250 shows a year, relentlessly crossing and re-crossing the various club, bar, and festival circuits, and the group’s classic Southern rock sound, which recalls bands like the Black Crowes and Lynyrd Skynyrd, has been honed to a sharp edge by the constant playing. This is a solid band with a good rhythm section in bassist Richard Turner and drummer Brit Turner, a stand-out keyboardist in Brandon Still, and plenty of electric guitar work from Paul Jackson and lead singer Charlie Starr. Starr’s voice is really what makes Blackberry Smoke more than a Southern rock nostalgia act, though. He’s a country singer with a rock attitude and heart, and when the song’s good, and the band’s on board, this is a top-tier group who merge country and rock so seamlessly that it’s both at once.

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There are several very good songs on The Whippoorwill, the band’s debut for Zac Brown’s Southern Ground label, including the chugging “Six Ways to Sunday,” which opens the set, the tell-it-straight-like-it-is small town anti-anthem “One Horse Town” (which sounds like Steve Earle in his heyday), and the cranky, defiant, and determined “Leave a Scar,” any of which deserve to be in regular rotation on contemporary country stations, but probably won’t be because they sound more like Muscle Shoals productions than they do Nashville. Think Steve Earle fronting Lynyrd Skynyrd. Great stuff, ragged and real, and yes, there are a lot of cliché stances and phrases woven into these songs, but Starr’s voice and this band’s loose yet crisp playing style pulls it all off more often than not. (by Steve Leggett)

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The second coming of Lynyrd Skynyrd… with some Black Crows, Allman Brothers and ZZ Top tossed in for good measure. An amazing album with no filler songs. I can listen to this from start to finish again and again. (Tim Pickering)

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Personnel:
Paul Jackson (guitar, vocals)
Charlie Starr (vocals, guitar, pedal steel-guitar banjo)
Brandon Still (keyboards)
Brit Turner (drums, percussion)
Richard Turner (bass, vocals)
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Clay Cook (percussion, harmonium on 04)
Matt Mangano (guitar on 04)
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background vocals:
Maureen Murphy – Lo Carter – Kyla Jade (on 03.,09.,12.,13.)
Sarah Dugas (on 09.)
Arnold McCuller (on 06.,10.,13.)

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Tracklist:
01. Six Ways To Sunday (Starr) 3.27
02. Pretty Little Lie (Meadows/Starr) 3.35
03. Everybody Knows She’s Mine (Starr) 3.50
04. One Horse Town (Meadows/Spillman/Starr) 4.16
05. Ain’t Much Left Of Me (Murphy/Jackson/Starr/Still/B.Turner/R.Turner) 4.59
06. The Whippoorwill (Starr) 5.32
07. Lucky Seven (Meadows/Jackson/Starr/Still/B.Turner/R.Turner) 4.17
08. Crimson Moon (Brown/Mangano/Starr) 4.01
10. Ain’t Got The Blues (Starr) 4.04
11. Sleeping Dogs (Kennedy/ackson/Starr/Still/B.Turner/R.Turner) 3.22
12. Shakin’ Hands With The Holy Ghost (Starr) 3.46
13. Up The Road (Starr) 5.53

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Thanks a lot to the greygoose, a woman with a real great taste for good music !

Drive-By Truckers – The Dirty South (2004)

FrontCover1.jpgThe Dirty South is the fifth album by Alabamian alternative country/Southern rock group Drive-By Truckers, released in 2004. The Dirty South is Drive-By Truckers’ second concept album. Like its predecessor, Southern Rock Opera, the album examines the state of the South, and unveils the hypocrisy, irony, and tragedy that continues to exist.

“Where The Devil Don’t Stay” was inspired by a poem by Mike Cooley’s uncle Ed Cooley, and was recorded in one take.

Patterson Hood’s “Tornadoes” was originally written in 1988 in reaction to the closing concert for the Adam’s House Cat Nightmare Tour. The Nightmare Tour set list was composed almost exclusively of songs containing metaphors or imagery of trains, but the lack of the tour’s success forced Hood and his band to abandon the concept and start afresh. Hood read an eyewitness account of the tornado in the local paper the next day and wrote “Tornadoes” after reading her statement that “it sounded like a train.”

Isbell’s “The Day John Henry Died,” retells the story of John Henry.

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“Puttin’ People on the Moon”, written by Hood, tells the story of a town downriver of Huntsville and their “rocket envy” or economic depression due to the negative environmental and economic effects of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center.

Mike Cooley’s “Carl Perkins’ Cadillac” recounts the celebrated Sun Records, Sam Phillips, and the music industry in general.

“The Sands of Iwo Jima” recounts Hood’s experiences with his great uncle while growing up in North Alabama. Questioning the veracity of the movie, his uncle answers he never saw John Wayne on the sands of Iwo Jima.

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Isbell’s second track on the album, “Danko/Manuel,” is a departure from the usual southern gothic lyrical style written by Cooley and Hood. Originally Isbell tried to tell the story of Rick Danko, Richard Manuel, and The Band’s demise, but found the scope of the concept too difficult to actually do justice to their story, and instead shifted the concept to a telling of life of a musician through the eyes and actions of Danko and Manuel. Isbell stated that the horn parts for the song came to him in a dream.

“The Dirty South” contains a three song suite (“The Boys From Alabama,” “Cottonseed” and “The Buford Stick”) about Sheriff Buford Pusser. “The Boys From Alabama” was inspired by the misconceptions and “really bad movies” of the Redneck Mafia and recounts the movie “Walking Tall”‘ from a “different point of view.” Hood felt that telling the story from “the bad guy’s” point of view would be more interesting. Cooley’s “Cottonseed” tells a story of corruption, crime, killing, greed, fixed elections, guns, drugs, prostitution and alcohol and uses subtle imagery to provide a very negative interpretation of Pusser. Hood’s “The Buford Stick” completes the suite by providing examples of the negative effects of Pusser’s actions while offering a less glorified view of the mythology surrounding Pusser.

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Cooley’s last song on the album is a story about a father who instills a love of racing in his son. “Daddy’s Cup” is the only song on “The Dirty South” that does not revolve around a negative experience, instead offering a lighter touch to the overall dirty feel of the album.

Isbell has explained that “Never Gonna Change” is simply about a stubborn North Alabama man who “refuses to live in fear,” which Isbell goes on to explain are rather rare.

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“Lookout Mountain” was written around 1990 by Hood, and can be heard in its original incarnation on Adam’s House Cat’s LP Town Burned Down. It was a last minute addition to the album, beating out another Hood song entitled “Goode’s Field Road.” “Goode’s Field Road” was eventually rerecorded for 2008’s Brighter Than Creation’s Dark, however the cut that was dropped from The Dirty South managed to see the light of day on The Fine Print: A Collection of Oddities and Rarities. The version as it appears on The Dirty South was recorded in one take.

The Dirty South ends with Isbell’s “Goddamn Lonely Love.” Though described by Isbell as a love song, “Goddamn Lonely Love” heavily and painfully delves into the loneliness associated with love. Isbell wrote the song for Shonna Tucker. (by wikipedia)

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When you’ve named your band the Drive-By Truckers and your first three albums are called Pizza Deliverance, Gangstabilly, and Alabama Ass Whuppin’, you might have a hard time at first convincing folks that you aren’t joking. But the Drive-By Truckers proved that they were most definitely not kidding with 2001’s brilliant double-disc Southern Rock Opera, and 2003’s Decoration Day actually upped the ante on what might have been a fluke masterpiece with its dark and thoroughly absorbing chronicle of hard times in the American South. With The Dirty South, the DBTs have crafted an equally effective companion piece to Decoration Day that plays on the gangsta rap reference of its title with a set of vividly rendered portraits of life along the margins of respectability below the Mason-Dixon line, from laid-off factory rats dealing drugs to feed their kids to Alabama gangsters determined to shut down the cops who made their daughters cry. From the first low, metallic stomps from Brad Morgan’s kick drum on “Where the Devil Don’t Stay,” it’s clear that The Dirty South isn’t going to be a good-time party most of the way, and while there are some brilliant anthemic rockers on this album (most notably “The Day John Henry Died,” “Carl Perkins’ Cadillac,” and “Never Gonna Change”), and Patterson Hood, Mike Cooley, and Jason Isbell have grown into a force to be reckoned with as both guitarists and songwriters, there’s more than a little blood, fear, doubt, shame, and simple human tragedy at the heart of these stories.

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While much of America might be laughing at “You might be a redneck…” jokes, the Drive-By Truckers aren’t about to let anyone forget the harsh truth behind growing up on the wrong side of the tracks in this country, and the tough, muscular force of their music only sharpens the bite of their stories. They can also turn down the amps and still hit you in the heart, especially on “Danko/Manuel” and “Daddy’s Cup,” and David Barbe’s production gives this band the full-bodied clarity they’ve always deserved. Believe it — the Drive-By Truckers are the best, smartest, and most soulful hard rock band to emerge in a very long time, and while The Dirty South isn’t always good for laughs, it has too many great stories and too much fierce, passionate rock & roll for anyone who cares about such things to dare pass it up. (by Mark Deming)

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Personnel:
Mike Cooley (vocals, guitar, banjo on 06. + 08., harmonica on 06.)
Patterson Hood (vocals, guitar, piano on 02 – 14.)
Jason Isbell (vocals, (guitar, piano on 02., 07. + 08. organ on 14., mellotron on 07.)
Brad Morgan (drums, percussion)
Shonna Tucker (bass, background  vocals)
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David Barbe (piano on 04., 06., organ on 08, background vocals on 13.)
Clay Leverett (background vocals on 02.)
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The Minor Hill Singers (background  vocals on 01.):
Jason Isbell – Kimberly Morgan – Shonna Tucker
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The State Line Chain Gang (percussion 08.)

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Tracklist:
01. Where The Devil Don’t Stay (Cooley) 5.18
02. Tornadoes (Hood) 4.13
03. The Day John Henry Died (Isbell) 3.46
04. “Puttin’ People on the Moon” Patterson Hood 4:55
05. Carl Perkins’ Cadillac (Cooley) 5.24
06. The Sands Of Iwo Jima (Hood) 4.10
07. Danko/Manuel (Isbell) 5.43
08. The Boys From Alabama (Hood) 4.24
09. Cottonseed (Cooley) 6.20
10. The Buford Stick (Hood) 4.40
11. Daddy’s Cup (Cooley) 5.53
12. Never Gonna Change (Isbell) 5.23
13. Lookout Mountain (Hood) 5.00
14. Goddamn Lonely Love (Isbell) 4.55

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Drive By Truckers – Gangstabilly (1998)

FrontCover1.jpgThe Drive-By Truckers are an alternative country/Southern rock band based in Athens, Georgia, though two of five current members (Patterson Hood and Mike Cooley) are originally from The Shoals region of northern Alabama, and the band strongly identifies with Alabama. The group also has roots in Richmond, Virginia. The Secret To A Happy Ending [DVD]. ATO Records. The band currently consists of Mike Cooley (lead vocals, guitar, banjo), Patterson Hood (lead vocals, guitar), Brad Morgan (drums), Jay Gonzalez (keys, guitar, accordion, backing vocals), and Matt Patton (bass guitar, backing vocals). Like many alternative country acts, the Drive-By Truckers record in analog (using 2 inch, 16-track open-reel tape recorders). The band’s constant touring has developed its dedicated following.

The band’s original lineup was fluid, but it most often included Hood, Cooley, and Howell, along with drummer Matt Lane, pedal steel player John Neff, and mandolin player Barry Sell. They released their first album Gangstabilly in 1998. With Hood and Cooley sometimes playing mandolin and banjo instead of guitar, and Howell playing double bass, the band’s original sound had a strong alternative country aspect, albeit with some rock mixed in, as well. (by wikipedia)

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The Drive-By Truckers don’t need an agenda to be a good band. Sure, Southern Rock Opera more or less anointed the Truckers as a smarter, more attentive Lynyrd Skynyrd, and critics, in turn, made them famous for all the wrong reasons. And while critics tossed around adjectives like “brash” and “raunchy” and dug out their riffs on Southern rock revival and the renovation of country, Gangstabilly, DBT’s debut, went largely overlooked. No mock-rock operas or anxious, insistent Southernism here — Gangstabilly keeps its charm by keeping it simple. Whereas post-Pizza Deliverance DBT tended to veer into weathered tailgate-party twang, Gangstabilly is a swamp of mushy drums, scraggly acoustics, and pedal-steel whimper — a catalog of trashy but telling details and broader yet personal pangs. NASCAR, monster-truck rallies, and countless episodes of COPS and America Undercover have melted the South down into a handful of stereotypes. But if frontman Patterson Hood has shown anything, all you have to do to cut through the velvet Elvis/TV rodeo/Haffenreffer muck of white-trash clichés is simply treat them seriously. While DBT retain a campy sensibility to distance themselves from their songs, the Truckers’ South doesn’t come without its share of loss and hardship.

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Take “Wifebeater,” the album’s opener. The title explains it all, but the subject matter is accepted as part of life, rendered like a conventional love song — “Don’t go back to him, he’s a wife beater.” The drums lurch, the pedal steel rises like steam, the harmonies go bullfrog-croak low, and Hood puts you inside a would-be dismissed act of domestic violence. Then, there’s “Panties in Your Purse” — a title which tells a whole newly painful story of a night of drinkin’ and cheatin’ in and of itself. But perhaps more than any song in their back catalog, “The Living Bubba” perfects the Truckers’ combination of tough but hurt. Dedicated to the late Atlanta guitarist Gregory Dean Smalley, “The Living Bubba” comes through with an introverted, slowly ascending verse and a chorus you can flick a Bic to. Bottom line: do yourself a favor and don’t ignore this album. The sad songs are sad the way you want them to be, the ballsier songs tempered with a little mellow manly pain. After Gangstabilly, the Drive-By Truckers would provide good albums, sure, but they’d be of the Napster-good sort, the buy-it-used sort. But for a brief moment, the Drive-By Truckers created something whose praise wouldn’t come by default, that wouldn’t play immediately into critics’ expectations. Gangstabilly was a thankless job, but a good one. (by Bill Peters)

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Personnel:
Mike Cooley (guitar, vocals, mandolin)
Adam Howell (bass, vocals)
Matt Lane (drums)
Patterson Hood (guitar, vocals, banjo)
John Neff (steel-guitar, vocals)
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Redneck Greece (background vocals on 08.)
Barry Sell (mandolin, background vocals on 05.)
Jim Stacy (harmonica on 09. + 10.)

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Tracklist:
01. Wife Beater 3.32
02. Demonic Possession 4.52
03. The Tough Sell 3.41
04. The Living Bubba 5.56
05. Late For Church 5.27
06. Panties In Your Purse 4.41
07. Why Henry Drinks 4.13
08. 18 Wheels Of Love 4.10
09. Steve McQueen 5.13
10.  Buttholeville 5.25
11. Sandwiches For The Road 6.40

Music: Mike Cooley – Adam Howell – Matt Lane – Patterson Hood – John Neff
Lyrics:
Mike Cooley (on 06.)
Adam Howell (on 05.)
Patterson Hood (01. – 04., 07.  11.)

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Gov’t Mule – Live At Roseland Ballroom (1996)

FrontCover1.jpgLive at Roseland Ballroom is the first live album by the jam band Gov’t Mule. It was taken from their performance on New Year’s Eve, 1995, opening for Blues Traveler. It was recorded at the Roseland Ballroom in Manhattan.

The album was out of print for over a decade, and used CD copies sold for over 30 dollars (US) on amazon.com at one point. The album was reissued in 2007 on Evil Teen Records, the record label of Warren Haynes and his wife/manager Stephanie Scarmado. The reissue featured a cover of Voodoo Chile recorded after the death of bassist Allen Woody. In the reissue liner notes, Haynes relates that he chose to include this track, rather than a track featuring the original lineup with Woody, due to the audio quality of the recordings available to him at the time. (by wikipedia)

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The consummate power trio of the ’90s, Gov’t Mule drew on influences from Mountain and Cream to the Jimi Hendrix Experience. This, the band’s second album, was recorded live in concert with no overdubs, and it rocks hard. Warren Haynes and Allen Woody pull their experiences from several years with the Allman Brothers Band into the mix and turn out one impressive record. Highlights include the rock radio track “Mule” and “Kind of Bird,” co-written by Dickey Betts of the Allmans, a song that was still in the Allmans’ set list at the end of the ’90s. (by Michael B. Smith)

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Gov’t Mule’s first live album, has been out of print for nearly a decade and is highly sought after by fans and collectors. Evil Teen Records is proud to re-release this definitive recording Tuesday, May 1st, 2007. Originally released October 22, 1996, the concert was recorded on December 31, 1995, and is an early hint of what has become Gov’t Mule’s perennial New Year’s Eve run at New York’s famed Beacon Theatre. The recording rocks with original classics Trane and Mule; and a majestic cover of Steppenwolf’s Don’t Step on the Grass, Sam. A bonus track, Voodoo Chile, will be included from Gov’t Mule’s October 18, 2001 Roseland Ballroom concert. Live at Roseland Ballroom demonstrates Gov’t Mule’s prowess, ambition and importance, as well as why Warren Haynes has been heralded by his contemporaries and Rolling Stone as one of rock’s greatest guitarists ever.

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Personnel:
Matt Abts (drums)
Warren Haynes (vocals, guitar)
Allen Woody (bass)
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on Voodoo Chile (recorded 18 October 2001):
Jack Casady (bass)
Chuck Leavell (organ)

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Tracklist:

01. Trane (Haynes/Woody/Abts) 16.35
02. Temporary Saint (Haynes) 5.51
03. Painted Silver Light (Haynes) 7.11
04. Don’t Step On The Grass, Sam (Kay) 8.07
05. Kind Of Bird (Haynes/Betts) 9.45
06. Mule (Haynes/Woody/Abts) 8.57
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07. Voodoo Chile (Hendrix) 15.33

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Betts, Hall, Leavel & Trucks – Geneva , NY (1983)

FrontCover1.jpgBetts, Hall, Leavell & Trucks features Dickey Betts and Butch Trucks (Allman Bros), Jimmy Hall (Wet Willie) and Chuck Leavell (Allman Bros & Sea Level). Unlike most Southern Rock bands in the early 80’s, this band did not venture into AOR territory. Instead, this is fairly classic Southern Rock, with songs of The Allman Brothers, and Jimmy Hall and Dickey Betts solo cuts. It’s a soundboard recording of a gig they played in Geneva, NY, on Jimmy’s birthday. The sound is a little thin at the start, but it gets better with the second song. Vocal duties are being shared by both Dickey and Jimmy. I don’t know if they ever recorded any studio demos, but this is very nice anyway. The kind of band you’d love to hear on a Charlie Daniels Volunteer Jam. I’m guessing you’ll enjoy hearing this lot keep playing Southern Rock like the 80’s never happened (by skydogselysium.blogspot)

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Personnel:
Dickey Betts (guitar, vocals)
David Goldflies (bass)
Jimmy Hall (saxophone, vocals, harmonica)
Chuck Leavell (keyboards)
Danny Parks (violin, vocals)
Butch Trucks (drums)

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Tracklist:
01. There Ain’t Nothin’ You Can Do (Betts) 3.47
02. Whole Lotta Memories (Betts) 4.31
03. One Track Mind (Duke/Hall) 6.00
04. Need Somebody’s Help Tonight (Betts) 5.05
05. Pick A Little Boogie (unknown) 4.27
06. Ramblin’ Man (Betts) 4.42
07. Rain (Betts) 5.10
08. Stop Knockin’ On My Door (unknown)
09. Lorraine (unknown) 4.40
10. Cadillac Tracks (Hall/Berwald) 13.36
11. Jessica (Betts) 10.12
12. Southbound (Betts) 7.34

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Outlaws – Lady In Waiting (1976)

FrontCover1.jpgIt’s not easy following up a creatively and commercially successful debut album, but Florida-based Southern rockers the Outlaws did just fine with their sophomore effort, 1976’s Lady in Waiting, the follow-up to their 1975 self-titled, gold-selling release. Although Lady in Waiting doesn’t have all-time knockouts like “There Goes Another Love Song” or “Green Grass & High Tides,” it does include a handful of Outlaws classics, including the minor hit “Breaker-Breaker” and “Stick Around for Rock & Roll.” Vocalists/guitarists Hughie Thomasson, Henry Paul, and Billy Jones; bass guitarist Frank O’Keefe (who was fired after this album); and drummer Monte Yoho collaborated once more with producer Paul A. Rothchild to create a textured album that managed to fuse intricate guitar arrangements and frame them within Thomasson’s rock & roll, Paul’s pure country, and Jones’ intensely personal songwriting styles. And don’t forget the splendid three-part vocal harmonies either. “Breaker-Breaker” is bright, easygoing country-rock; lyrically, it piggybacked on the mid-’70s CB radio craze.

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The tempo changes and distinctly different guitar tones on “South Carolina” add extra dimensions to what would otherwise be straightforward, up-tempo country. Jones’ “Ain’t So Bad” is mid-tempo pop/rock with ironic lyrics about life and death, especially since he committed suicide two decades later in 1995 around the time of O’Keefe’s death. The tough country-rock, rockabilly-flavored number “Freeborn Man” was, unbelievably, co-written by Paul Revere and the Raiders vocalist Mark Lindsey and guitarist Keith Allison; the guitar solos provide the punch, but O’Keefe’s walking bassline adds a nice, loping rhythm. Paul’s country-inflected “Girl From Ohio” is rife with gorgeous harmonies. “Prisoner” is a sensitive Jones song with occasional jazz-pop tendencies. The hard-rocking “Stick Around for Rock & Roll” is a rowdy guitar jam. Lady in Waiting was reissued on CD by Buddha Records in 2001. (by Bret Adams)

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Personnel:
Bill Jones (guitar, vocals)
Frank O’Keefe (bass)
Henry Paul (guitar, vocals)
Hughie Thomasson (guitar, vocals)
Monte Yoho (drums)
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Joe Lala (percussion)

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Tracklist:
01. Breaker-Breaker (Thomasson) 2.57
02. South Carolina (Paul) 3.04
03. Ain’t So Bad (Jones) 3.47
04. Freeborn Man (Allison/Lindsey) 4.48
05. Girl From Ohio (Paul) 5.01
06. Lover Boy (Thomasson) 3.57
07. Just For You (Thomasson) 3.15
08. Prisoner (Jones) 3.56
09. Stick Around For Rock & Roll (Thomasson) 6.38

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Lynyrd Skynyrd – Pronounced Leh-Nerd Skin-Nerd (1973)

FrontCover1.jpg(Pronounced ‘Lĕh-‘nérd ‘Skin-‘nérd) is the debut album from Lynyrd Skynyrd, released in 1973. The album features several of the band’s most well-known songs, including “Gimme Three Steps,” “Simple Man,” “Tuesday’s Gone” and “Free Bird,” which launched the band to national stardom.

Bassist Leon Wilkeson left the band early in the album’s recording sessions after playing on only two tracks. Strawberry Alarm Clock guitarist Ed King was asked to fill in for Wilkeson on bass during the remaining sessions, as Wilkeson had already written many of the bass parts. This left Skynyrd with only six official members at the time of the album’s release. Not long after, King was made a member of the band so it could replicate the triple-guitar lead during live performances. Wilkeson returned to the band toward the end of the recording sessions. The album was certified gold on December 18, 1974, platinum and double platinum on July 21, 1987, by the RIAA. The album also peaked at 27 in the Billboard 200 in 1975.

The album was re-released in 2001 as an expanded version with bonus tracks, including demos of many of the songs on the album. Sales through 2014 were an estimated 2 million units internationally.

The cover photograph was taken on Main Street in Jonesboro, Georgia and shows, from left to right, Leon Wilkeson (seated), Billy Powell (seated), Ronnie Van Zant, Gary Rossington (seated), Bob Burns, Allen Collins and Ed King. With Ed King’s death of lung cancer on August 22, 2018, guitarist Gary Rossington (seated third from left) is the only one currently alive from that famous picture.

Pronounced ‘Lĕh-‘nérd ‘Skin-‘nérd immediately put the band on the rock-and-roll map. In 2003 Rolling Stone magazine ranked the album number 403 on its list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. (by wikipedia)

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The Allman Brothers came first, but Lynyrd Skynyrd epitomized Southern rock. The Allmans were exceptionally gifted musicians, as much bluesmen as rockers. Skynyrd was nothing but rockers, and they were Southern rockers to the bone. This didn’t just mean that they were rednecks, but that they brought it all together — the blues, country, garage rock, Southern poetry — in a way that sounded more like the South than even the Allmans. And a large portion of that derives from their hard, lean edge, which was nowhere more apparent than on their debut album, Pronounced Leh-Nerd Skin-Nerd. Produced by Al Kooper, there are few records that sound this raw and uncompromising, especially records by debut bands. Then again, few bands sound this confident and fully formed with their first record. Perhaps the record is stronger because it’s only eight songs, so there isn’t a wasted moment, but that doesn’t discount the sheer strength of each song. Consider the opening juxtaposition of the rollicking “I Ain’t the One” with the heartbreaking “Tuesday’s Gone.”

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Two songs couldn’t be more opposed, yet Skynyrd sounds equally convincing on both. If that’s all the record did, it would still be fondly regarded, but it wouldn’t have been influential. The genius of Skynyrd is that they un-self-consciously blended album-oriented hard rock, blues, country, and garage rock, turning it all into a distinctive sound that sounds familiar but thoroughly unique. On top of that, there’s the highly individual voice of Ronnie Van Zant, a songwriter who isn’t afraid to be nakedly sentimental, spin tales of the South, or to twist macho conventions with humor. And, lest we forget, while he does this, the band rocks like a motherf*cker. It’s the birth of a great band that birthed an entire genre with this album. (by Stephen Thomas Erlewine)

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Personnel:
Bob Burns (drums)
Allen Collins (guitar)
Ed King (bass, guitar on 06.)
Billy Powell (keyboards)
Gary Rossington (guitar, slide-guitar)
Ronnie van Zant (vocals)
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Bobbye Hall (percussion on 03. + 05.)
Steve Katz (harmonica on 06.)
Al Kooper (Roosevelt Gook) – bass, mellotron and background vocals on 02.,  mandolin, bass drum on 06.,  “Mississippi Kid,” organ on 04., 07. + 08., mellotron on 08.)

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Tracklist:
01. I Ain’t The One (Rossington/v.Zant) 3.53
02. Tuesday’s Gone (Collins/v.Zant) 7.30
03. Gimme Three Steps (Collins/v.Zant) 4.28
04. Simple Man (Rossington/v.Zant) 5.56
05. Things Goin’ On (Rossington/v.Zant)t 4.58
06. Mississippi Kid (Burns/Kooper/v.Zant) 3.55
07. Poison Whiskey (King(v.Zant) 3.13
08. Free Bird (Collins/v.Zant) 9.07

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Ed King (September 14, 1949 – August 22, 2018)

Ed King, the Lynyrd Skynyrd guitarist who joined the band in 1972 to give the Southern rock group its iconic three-guitar sound, died Wednesday in Nashville. He was 68. A cause of death was not specified, though King had been battling lung cancer and had recently been hospitalized for the disease.

A message on King’s Facebook confirmed his death: “It is with great sorrow we announce the passing of Ed King who died at his home in Nashville, Tennessee on August 22nd, 2018. We thank his many friends and fans for their love and support of Ed during his life and career.”

A California native, King was a founding member of the psychedelic Sixties band Strawberry Alarm Clock, known for their hit “Incense and Peppermints.” He offered to join Skynyrd when, opening for the band at the Jacksonville, Florida, bar the Comic Book Club in 1968, he heard them rehearsing the song “Need All My Friends.” It wasn’t until 1972, however, when King would sign on with Skynyrd, temporarily replacing bassist Leon Wilkeson and then becoming a full-fledged member as third guitarist.

King played on the band’s first three albums: 1973’s (Pronounced Leh-nerd Skin-nerd), 1974’s Second Helping and 1975’s Nuthin’ Fancy. He most famously co-wrote Second Helping‘s “Sweet Home Alabama” – that’s him counting off “1, 2, 3” in the song’s intro – which, along with “Free Bird,” has become synonymous with the group.

After a dust-up with singer Ronnie Van Zant, King, tired of the Skynyrd drama and propensity for fighting, exited the band in 1975, detailing the incident in the superb new documentary If I Leave Here Tomorrow: A Film About Lynyrd Skynyrd.

“I’m the hippie from Southern California. I’m not digging the violence part,” King said, recounting how a broken string at a show in Pittsburgh earned him the wrath of the mercurial Van Zant. “Ronnie and my guitar roadie who changed my strings were thrown in jail in Ann Arbor. They didn’t arrive … until 10 minutes before we went on. I had to Ed King02.jpgplay on old strings and I broke two strings during ‘Free Bird.’ After, Ronnie was riding me, and a lightbulb went off and I said, ‘That’s it.’ I went back to my room, packed up my stuff and left.”

King is a highlight of If I Leave Here Tomorrow, offering keen firsthand insight into the Southern band as an outsider from California. On the album cover for Pronounced, King is pictured far right, a bit detached from the group.

Guitarist Gary Rossington, the lone original member of the Lynyrd Skynyrd that tours today, quipped on King’s aloof, business-minded nature in the documentary. “He’d stop and buy $100 worth of Slim Jims and have him in a briefcase and, driving an hour or two, you get hungry, he’d sell them to us and triple the price,” he said.

Following King’s death, Rossington released a statement. “I’ve just found out about Ed’s passing and I’m shocked and saddened,” he said. “Ed was our brother, and a great songwriter and guitar player. I know he will be reunited with the rest of the boys in Rock and Roll Heaven. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family.” (by Joseph Hudak/Rolling Stone, August 23, 2018)

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