Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Review: Lynyrd Skynyrd - Last of a Dyin' Breed

 I've always felt like an unwelcome member of the community of music fans for my dislike of Lynyrd Skynyrd's Sweet Home Alabama. What with it's lyrics boasting the joys of being a redneck and calling out of superior words of Neil Young, it seemed obnoxious and not something I'd agree with. And something that makes Lynyrd Skynyrd a perfect example of a band with which your first opportunity to hear them isn't necessarily the time to hear them at their finest, because the likes of Freebird, Simple Man and Call in the Breeze are all incredible works of classic rock and I know I could listen to many an album of theirs with no problem. And while thirteenth release Last of a Dyin' Breed is very much a hit and miss affair, ultimately one could come to the same agreement.

 Obviously, looking at Lynyrd Skynyrd now, there's been a notable amount of shifting in the band's lineup, with Johnny Van Zant and Gary Rossington being the only two original members now, so across the band's recent work, the focus has truly come down to these two. And in the case of Last of a Dyin' Breed, this considerable focus on Rossington is what provides the album with some of it's greatest hits. As the title track opens with a gentle array of blues riffage, a feeling of utmost class within their work has to be recognised.

 Rossington's prominent ability to mix this classic sound with that of a harder sound comes across effortlessly in the album's best moments whether it be the solid badassery of Life's Twisted and Poor Man's Dream, the swinging melodies of Low Down Dirty and the perfect balance between blues finesse and distortion that makes up One Day at a Time. Rossington proves why many... through and through Americans would happily refer to him one of the greatest guitarists of modern age in a way that really backs up their claims.

 While Van Zant proves himself to still possess a powerful set of pipes and has a performance that really compliments Rossington's best moments, I can't personally get too into his overall performance because well, with the exception of what has become known as Southern rock, it's incorporation into hardcore music, traditional blues music and a few other important exceptions, I've never been particularly keen on a lot of music to originate from the South of the USA. Country based music, again with a few important exceptions, it's not for me. And as always, Lynyrd Skynyrd delve excessively into this type of music and the balladry of Ready to Fly and Something to Believe In may be felt by some people but not by me, my friends. It's performances here that are most reliant on Van Zant's performance to deliver the full effect, but I really don't feel it. Further performances of Mississippi Blood and Van Zant's discussion about how it takes most of his money to fill his pickup truck on Nothing Comes Easy have a tendency to sound like parodies of redneck country anthems that just can't be taken seriously.

 So, Lynyrd Skynyrd achieve for me what they've managed with every album and created something that one could easily sit through albeit having to go through a few tracks that are just too Southern, however the amount of rock and roll that can be provided elsewhere provides a forgivable balance. The album comes with no such thing as a sing-along ballad, which by Lynyrd Skynyrd's account is Sweet Home Alabama so, thank goodness for that, meaning listening to the album as a full set of songs is the best way to appreciate it. So if you are feeling in the mood for some Southern rock done as it should be, Last of a Dyin' Breed is another album that provides a perfect amount of riffs and moonshine. God, I know nothing about the South.

Lynyrd Skynyrd's Last of a Dyin' Breed is out now via Roadrunner. The band will tour the UK in November.

No comments:

Post a Comment