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Second Helping
Lynyrd Skynyrd

MCA 413
Released: April 1974
Chart Peak: #12
Weeks Charted: 45
Certified Double Platinum: 7/21/87

Gary RossingtonRonnie Van ZantLynyrd Skynyrd is a seven-man band discovered during a bar gig in Atlanta by Al Kooper (Blood, Sweat & Tears; Blues Project). Like too many rock bands, this one relies to a certain extent on overlong guitar solos derivative of Clapton or Hendrix, but the rhythm section, which is dead sure, makes the band walk. When the front-line guitarists learn how to make the band talk, Lynyrd Skynyrd will be hard to beat.

But there's time for that; meanwhile, it's a pleasure to hear them growing. The writers in the group contribute better than average material, including an autobiographical number, "Workin' for MCA," about how they were discovered and the lurking suspicions of any band toward any label. The sentimental "Ballad of Curtis Loew," about a black man who plays dobro guitar, is appealing enough to become a minor standard. "The Needle and the Spoon" is one of the small but increasing number of songs describing the horrors of being a junkie.

The production is excellent, as you would expect from a fellow like Kooper. He believes in Southern bands, especially in Lynyrd Skynyrd, and he has got me believing too. By the way, the best piece is "Sweet Home Alabama," which, unlike the other performances (recorded in Los Angeles), was cut in a Georgia studio. There's no place like down home.

- Joel Vance, Stereo Review, 10/74.

Lynyrd Skynyrd - Second Helping
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Bonus Reviews!

This group is frequently compared to the Allman Brothers but it lacks that band's sophistication and professionalism. If a song doesn't feel right to the Brothers, they work on it until it does; if it isn't right to Lynyrd Skynyrd, they are more likely to crank up their amps and blast their way through the bottleneck. They do, however, play a solid brand of Allman-influenced blues rock, drawing on gospel and other components of southern music as well. Second Helping is distinguished from their debut LP only by a certain mellowing out that indicates they may eventually acquire a level of savoir-faire to realize their many capabilities.

- Gordon Fletcher, Rolling Stone, 7-4-74.

Certainly one of the finest of the newer Southern rock bands, Lynyrd Skynyrd have put together a fine LP that is remarkably refreshing in a time when much of rock seems at a standstill. Mixing straight rock, blues and country-like sounds, the key to this band may well be that nobody overstates anything. Everything is kept in remarkably tasteful perspective, from the dual guitar leads of Allen Collins and Gary Rossington to the fine lead vocals of Ronnie Van Zant. A vast improvement over the first album and a tribute to the combination of skill and good taste. Best cuts: "Sweet Home Alabama," "I Need You," "The Ballad of Curtis Loew."

- Billboard, 1974.

Great formula here. When it rocks, three guitarists and a keyboard player pile elementary riffs and feedback noises into dense combinations broken by preplanned solos, while at quieter moments the spare vocabulary of the best Southern folk music is evoked or just plain duplicated. And any suspicions that this substantial, tasteful band blew their best stuff on the first platter should fall in the wake of the first state song ever to make top ten, which will expose you to their infectious put-downs of rock businessmen, rock journalists, and heroin. A-

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

Their second album leads off with "Sweet Home Alabama," the band's only Top Ten hit (that's right, "Free Bird" never reached the Top Ten). Alternating between hard driving, beer swilling anthems and longing regional ballads, the energy level, production values, and hard-assed swagger surpass their fine debut. "Workin' for MCA" is one of the more insightful biz songs around, and "The Needle and the Spoon" is an excellent example of the band's continuing concern for violent social issues. As is the case with their debut, the highs, particularly on the vocals, tend to be a bit overbright, but the bottom is much tighter; aside from slight overall compression, the sound is appropriately driving. A

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

The appropriately titled followup to their debut was equally impressive, containing their highest-charting hit, "Sweet Home Alabama" (#8). Unlike many albums, where the hit is the highlight, Second Helping is chock full of great tunes like "Working for MCA," "Call Me the Breeze," "Don't Ask Me No Questions," and "Ballad of Curtis Loew." * * * * *

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

Second Helping follows the same path as Lynyrd Skynyrd's debut. It includes "Sweet Home Alabama," "Don't Ask Me No Questions," "Call Me the Breeze," and "The Needle and the Spoon," classics all. * * * *

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

A great follow-up album, this influential effort grooves from start to finish with blues-inspired guitar riffs. For 30 minutes, you'll wish you were a Southern boy as Ronnie Van Zant & co. move from an intoxicating love dirge ("I Need You") and an overplayed FM classic ("Sweet Home Alabama") and a bemused tale of white trash being wined and dined by record label execs ("Working for MCA"). * * * * *

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

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