This album is perhaps most famous for its unfortunate album cover, showing the band (nearly) engulfed in flames. Three days after this album was released, 2/7ths of Lynyrd Skynyrd and four other people were killed in a plane crash, including one of their backing vocalists. The album then became their most successful, as is often the case with these things, but the band broke up due to the plane crash. (Obviously, they have reformed since.)
The first surprise I got when listening to this record is how much of it is present on Gold & Platinum, the double-disc greatest hits record released after the break up. There are four songs on that record, so basically one quarter of the greatest hits album is devoted to this record.
That means that I know four of these songs really well – as I used to listen to Gold & Platinum all the time – and so I think of them as strong songs. But the remaining four songs don’t make that much of an impression on me and I suspect that, had I not known the other four, only a couple of them – particularly “I Know a Little,” which is out of character for them, but pretty awesome – would really make an impression.
The thing about Skynyrd for me, as I investigate their records, is they do really seem to be one of those “hits” bands, i.e. their best songs are usually most famous. It feels this way on this record. Yes, Van Zant is a better lyricist than most southern rockers, but that is a low standard. The melodies are often not strong enough to really make me distinguish one song from the other, and so I’m left with the musicianship, which is always impressive. This is, after all, the band with three lead guitarists, who usually need to show off on each song.
But there’s only so much I can appreciate about solo after solo (including some from their pianist, who is excellent). And so I find that Lynyrd Skynyrd has become one of these classic rock bands that I just don’t really like enough, beyond the hits, to pay much attention to.
This fine, but I can’t imagine that it’s so much better than their early records, and I really don’t feel any desire to listen to it again.