Well, this week for Eugeology, Eugene threw me for a loop. I’d never consider Lynyrd Skynyrd a “hard rock” band. I’m not saying they’re not hard rockin’, so don’t hear me wrong. I just have never been ain’t been able to stomach a lot of Skynyrd (or any “Southern Rock”). And, in 100% honesty, it really has nothing to do with the band, their music or anything that really matters. It’s the general fan base. That’s it. Again, nothing that matters. It’s my problem and I’m addressing it.
#3 – Nuthin’ Fancy by Lynyrd Skynyrd.
His personal demons aside, Artimus Pyle is/was a fantastic drummer. His hi-hat work is amazing. I have always loved the HH sizzles in the bridges of “Saturday Night Special,” the album’s opening track. Also, listen to the hi-hat and freakish ride bell on “Railroad Song.” Jeez o’Pete, he’s killing it.This was also his debut with the band, taking over for Bob Burns, the founding drummer.
Back to “Saturday Night Special,” though. Another big part of that is its fullness. That’s what having three guitarists in the band will do for you. The off-time drum beat is the signature of this song, though. I’m supposing it’s supposed to emulate a gunshot, which is cool because that’s what the song is about. Kind of like the beginning of “Love Gun” from KISS is to emulate a machine gun.
No matter my dislike of the band, I’ll never dismiss their talents and individual merits. Leon Wilkeson was a solid bass player. He’s got some runs in there, for sure. It’s all tasteful, too. Al Kooper (the producer of the album) really pulls his tone out front, too. Leon used a good bit of double stops in his playing and I’m a big fan of that. In fact, it’s a technique that I use in my playing, a lot. I’m used to playing in bands with only one guitar so I use “chords” (double stops) to fill the aural spectrum. This band has three guitarists and a bass player so he did it because it sounds good and he was great.
Ronnie Van Zant had a unique vocal style and he had one powerful voice. He didn’t sing each song the same way. That was good, but sometimes a bit weird. I think the average listener wants consistency. He had consistency, you just have to sometimes listen a little harder for it. I love the way he sounded harmonizing with himself, too. That’s evident in “Am I Losin’.” He also was the sole writer of “Made in the Shade,” a classic blues, almost dixieland-like tune about a man annoyed at his ungrateful girl.
Skynyrd are known for their bluesy riffs and runs. The three guitarists, Ed King, Gary Rossington and Allen Collins, definitely deliver that here, although King left after this album for many years. I think my problem with them (the band) musically, is they’re a bit more blues than I’d prefer. I don’t mind bluesy, but blues, I’m just not a fan. Although, I do enjoy hearing Billy Powell slam his fingers on the piano during that stuff. His organ work is fantastic, too.
This album, while certainly not my favorite, by any means, isn’t bad. It starts off really, really strong with “Saturday Night Special” and goes, then, into “Cheatin’ Woman.” That’s some great Powell and Wilkeson parts, there. “Railroad Song” again with the cymbal work but also the rolling guitar riffs, is a full and fun song to listen to. I could do without the harmonica. I really don’t like blues harp. “I’m a Country Boy” has that great groovy guitar part with punches in the chorus.
I know the two songs I hear the most from this album are “Saturday…” and “On the Hunt.” I love the chorus of that song and I definitely love that riff. That makes the whole song; at least setting the tone. Again, harmonica on “Made in the Shade” but I think it fits here and I love Van Zant’s vocals, feeling the agony about his girl, and it’s evident. Maybe it’s not agony. Resignation, perhaps? Still, it’s a great song. I think the only song I don’t really care for is “Whiskey Rock-A-Roller.” Yep, you guessed it. A bit too boogie woogie bluesish for me.
I really hate having to admit that I did like this album. It’s not probably anything that I’d want to go back to listen to again, because I still had trouble getting through it (twice) to write this, just from my hangups. But, the album, is solid and 7/8 of it, I really liked. Good job, Eug. Can’t wait for the next installment. Dear Reader, are you familiar with this album? What’s your thoughts? I’d love to know.
I also can’t wait to read Eugene’s and Jon‘s take on this album.
Until tomorrow, same blog channel…
“Big Jim’s been drinkin’ whiskey and playin’ poker on a losin’ night. And, pretty soon ol’ Jim starts a thinkin’, somebody been cheatin’ and lyin’. So Big Jim commence to fightin’. I wouldn’t tell you no lie. Big Jim done pulled his pistol. Shot his friend right between the eyes.” – “Saturday Night Special” (King/Van Zant)