With their debut album, Lynyrd Skynyrd didn’t invent southern rock, as it had already existed for at least 4 years. But you might say they invented the populist form of southern rock, a louder, more blue collar version that relies more on hard rock and country than on soul or jazz.
There are eight songs on this debut album. Five of those songs are classic Skynyrd tracks, so much so that they all made it on to the band’s first ever Greatest Hits collection (and I assume most if not all subsequent ones). Three of these songs – “Tuesday’s Gone,” “Simple Man” and, of course, “Freebird” – are perhaps their very best songs (ballads, anyway). It’s a testament to the quality of the record that so much of it works and has stood up to the test of time. But it is also an accidental comment on their future albums – for someone like me, this band would never get better.
I haven’t listened to more than a few of their albums, but my experience of those albums is that the best tracks were indeed the ones selected for Gold and Platinum. And if that’s the case throughout the work of the original band (pre-plane crash) than it seems really unlikely to me that Skynyrd ever topped this record.
So, even though three of the four tracks on side 2 are kind of weak, I feel like I have to give this at least an 8/10 because the rest of the material is about as classic as it gets for this band and I have a hard time believing they ever did better.
- “I Ain’t the One” (Gary Rossington, Ronnie Van Zant) 3:53
- “Tuesday’s Gone” (Allen Collins, Van Zant) 7:32
- “Gimme Three Steps” (Collins, Van Zant) 4:30
- “Simple Man” (Rossington, Van Zant) 5:57
- “Things Goin’ On” (Rossington, Van Zant) 5:00
- “Mississippi Kid” (Bob Burns, Al Kooper, Van Zant) 3:56
- “Poison Whiskey” (Ed King, Van Zant) 3:13
- “Free Bird” (Collins, Van Zant) 9:09
- Ronnie Van Zant – lead vocals, lyrics
- Gary Rossington – lead guitar on “Tuesday’s Gone,” “Gimme Three Steps,” “Things Goin’ On” and “Poison Whiskey”; rhythm guitar on all others, slide guitar on “Free Bird.”
- Allen Collins – lead guitar on “I Ain’t The One” and “Free Bird,” rhythm guitar on all others
- Ed King – lead guitar on “Mississippi Kid,” bass on all tracks except “Mississippi Kid” and “Tuesday’s Gone”
- Billy Powell – keyboards
- Bob Burns – drums except on “Tuesday’s Gone”
- Al Kooper – bass, Mellotron and back-up harmony on “Tuesday’s Gone,” mandolin & bass drum on “Mississippi Kid,” organ on “Simple Man,” “Poison Whiskey” and “Free Bird”, Mellotron on “Free Bird”
- Robert Nix – drums on “Tuesday’s Gone”
- Bobbye Hall – percussion on “Gimme Three Steps” and “Things Goin’ On”
- Steve Katz – harmonica on “Mississippi Kid”