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Pronounced Leh-Nerd Skin-Nerd
Lynyrd Skynyrd

MCA 363
Released: August 1973
Chart Peak: #27
Weeks Charted: 79
Certified Double Platinum: 7/21/87

Ronnie Van ZantAl Kooper, formerly of the Blues Project, sideman for Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, and the Rolling Stones, inventor of Blood, Sweat & Tears, solo vocal-guitar-keyboard artist, and general shaker and mover, went to Atlanta two years ago. There he found a number of white Southern territory bands, fell in love with the sound, signed some artists, and started his Sounds of the South label.

The prestige and success of the Allman Brothers, the best-known white Southern band, may have opened the doors for others. Kooper, meanwhile, is to be commended for his enthusiasm and given high marks for taste, for white Southern bands have received little publicity and many of them are very good. Lynyrd Skynyrd is very good, and I especially recommend the shivering Hawaiian-style blues guitar in "Mississippi Kid."

The only problem with white Southern bands is that much of their sound may have been pre-empted by other American or British blues bands, the best of whom are first-rate but second-hand. Whether this will make any difference to audiences, I don't know Kooper's reaction to the pre-emption is: "[Groups like the Stones, who started as a blues band] sing what they read about in the papers; these people sing about their life." Kooper is right; there is a difference, and the contribution of white Southern musicians has yet to be recognized. I am not touting white Southern bands against lack Southern bands; the point is both of them are Southern and the "soul" is shared. Black and white musicians down there (as up North, in rock or jazz) admire and swap stylistic accomplishments with one another, as they have doing for fifty years.

Since we are rediscovering everybody else these days -- from doo-wop groups to blues masters to nostalgic pop-rockers -- the discovery of white Southern territorial bands would be a windfall. Lynyrd Skynyrd is a first installment, with -- let's hope -- more to come.

- Joel Vance, Stereo Review, 5/74.

Bonus Reviews!

Lynyrd Skynyrd broadly fit into the hard-driving improvisational blues format pioneered by the Allman Brothers, although the band's welcome bent for brevity keeps most of the tracks tight and to the point. On the other hand, their nine-minute "Freebird" jumps out of the group's debut LP: It offers a tour of blues guitar expertise, conducted by Allen Collins and to a riveting effect. In fact, Skynyrd work with three lead guitarists, a density of stringy instrumentation at times recalling Byrds as much as Allmans.

Eclectic (a shared predilection for much Southern rock), Skynyrd leans on everyone from Rolling Stones ("Tuesday's Gone") and Ry Cooder ("Things Goin' On") to Lovin' Spoonful ("Gimme Three Steps"). Lead singer Ronnie Van Zant mostly sounds like Keith Relf imitating Mick Jagger. Al Kooper's unobstrusively dapper production emphasizes the English connection with ever an eye to poppy parts, a mellotron here, electric 12-string there. But the blunter blues tracks form the album's meat with cuts like "Simple Man" revealing a no-nonsense powerhouse rock unit of modest proportions but considerable promise.

- Jim Miller, Rolling Stone, 11-6-73.

Lacking both hippie roots and virtuosos, post-Allmanites like ZZ Top, Marshall Tucker, and Wet Willie become transcendently boring except when they get off a good song. But in this staunchly untranscendent band, lack of virtuosos is a virtue, because it inspires good songs, songs that often debunk good-old-boy shibboleths. Examples: "Poison Whiskey," "Mississippi Kid," and "Gimme Three Steps," where Ronnie Van Zant, instead of outwitting the dumb redneck the way onetime Dylan sideman Charlie Daniels does in "Uneasy Rider," just hightails it out of there. Savvy production from onetime Dylan sideman Al Kooper. A

- Robert Christgau, Christgau's Record Guide, 1981.

The debut from this Southern road/roots stomping aggregation served notice that worthy successors to the groundbreaking Allman Brothers had arrived, with one foot in rock and the other in southern sociomythology. They lived and played as if the music and the party were the only things that mattered. Strong song writing, sympathetic production provided by Al Kooper, and Ronnie Van Zant's redneck holler vocals add up to a Dixie-fried good time, making the intelligence of the lyrics an added bonus. This release includes "Gimme Three Steps," "Poison Whiskey," and the ubiquitous, progressive "Free Bird." The sound of the initial MCA CD is bright and tight, occasionally a bit edgy in the highs and mushy in the lows, but generally clean and dynamic. A-

- Bill Shapiro, Rock & Roll Review: A Guide to Good Rock on CD, 1991.

With the release of this debut album, Skynyrd was immediately recognized as one of the South's premier bands. The album's highlight is "Freebird," a song that, over time, has become one of the most requested rock songs in the history of radio. "Simple Man," "Gimme Three Steps," and "Tuesday's Gone" are several other standards from this classic album. * * * *

- Rick Clark, The All-Music Guide to Rock, 1995.

Pronounced 'leh-nerd' skin'-nerd introduced the band with a bang, though it's occasionally weighed down by Al Kooper's excessive production. * * * *

- Alan Paul, Musichound Rock: The Essential Album Guide, 1996.

Powered by a three-guitar jam attack, the must-have debut that defined Southern dirt rock at its finest is itself defined by the rock anthem "Free Bird," a tribute to the late Duane Allman that became the second-most overplayed song on the radio. All Skynyrd is good Skynyrd, and it fact it's pronounced "a-w-e-s-o-m-e" quip connoisseurs who still consider this classic band with a unique sound phenomenal (nuff said). * * * *

- Zagat Survey Music Guide - 1,000 Top Albums of All Time, 2003.

From the git-go, Southern rock mainstays Lynyrd Skynyrd played hard, lived hard and shot from the hip (with three guitars!). Discovered by Al Kooper, Lynyrd Skynyrd offered taut rockers including "Poison Whiskey" and the ultimate anthem, "Freebird."

Pronounced Leh-Nerd Skin-Nerd was chosen as the 401st greatest album of all time by the editors of Rolling Stone magazine in Dec. 2003.

- Rolling Stone, 12/11/03.

In 1973, Lynyrd Skynyrd emerged from the Florida swamplands as a stepchild of the new American South, a culture at once repentant and defiant about its tarnished heritage. By the time they recorded their debut album, Skynyrd had honed a dexterous, chicken-fried sound in Dixieland's dives and juke joints, assembling along the way a vicious triple-guitar attack to complement a taut rhythm section and Ronnie Van Zant's remarkably soulful voice. But most important to their product, as well as to the countless bands this album would eventually inspire, were the ambiguities that distinguished the group. They looked like truculent confederates, but their music was haunted by black immigrants. Pronounced... flaunted and defied stereotypes of the Southern man and became the first truly meaningful Southern rock statement.

Part blues, part country, part The Who, it features the finest that rock riffing has to offer on the blistering opener "I Ain't the One" and the cautionary "Poison Whiskey." Where the rival Allman Brothers ventured into jazz and hippie noodling, Skynyrd offered a comparable virtuosity anchored deeper in the blues. The acoustic "Mississippi Kid" is all Delta boogie; "Things Goin' On" reminds us all of the band in our local saloon.

And then there is "Freebird," the breathtaking finale that transformed the group into celebrities and vaulted the album into the charts. Pensive, brash, uplifting, and heartrending, the song offers a nine-minute lesson in rock, complete with the most exhilarating outburst of electric guitar to that point, and maybe since.

- Matthew Oshinsky, 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die, 2005.

On the Southern rock icons' debut, Ronnie Van Zant flexes his wiseass drawl in "Gimme Three Steps" and protests racism in "Things Goin' On." But the highlight is "Freebird," now and forever, the ultimate air-guitar epic.

Pronounced Leh-Nerd Skin-Nerd was chosen as the 381st greatest album of all time in a Rolling Stone magazine poll of artists, producers, critics and music industry figures in Oct. 2020.

- Rolling Stone, 10/20.

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