Matt Rowe - Reviewer
What made Lynyrd Skynyrd one of the top bands in the 70s and earned them the respect of Pete Townshend was their profound ability to play, convincingly, several styles of music including blues, country rock, and straight edge rock n roll in its purest sense. Add to that their willingness to write and sing what they felt as evidenced in the acoustic "All I Can Do Is Write About It". Here they talk about their love of nature and it's inherent beauty as if it were the only thing worth talking about. Throw in their snipe at Neil Young in "Sweet Home Alabama" and you know these boys were genuine.
Of course, they created a bedrock of important songs that included the immensely popular "Sweet Home Alabama" as well as the radio edited "Free Bird". Their output didn't end with those nor did it exactly start with those either. Their catalog is is brimmed with classics that also include "Gimme Three Steps"; "Saturday Night Special"; "That Smell"; "You Got That Right"; and "Gimme Back My Bullets". All of those songs are included on this 30th Anniversary Collection: Thyrty.
Their climb to stardom was severely crippled by the tragic plane crash that stole the lives of Ronnie Van Zant and Steve Gaines. Allen Collins became a shell and tragically died with time and circumstance eventually taking bassist Leon Wilkeson and guitarist Allen Collins. However, their legacy is firmly cemented in the annals of rock and roll.
This collection goes deep and delivers a large array of Skynyrd tunes that concentrate largely on the Ronnie Van Zant years, as it should. The most solid output comes from these years. And it's a satisfying collection. Spread over two discs, all of their AM and FM hits are here. There are a few live renditions included. Songs like "Gimme Back My Bullets"; "Swamp Music", "Simple Man", "Comin' Home", and "We Ain't Much Different". Some of the live performances are with Johnny Van Zant, whose singing style is near Ronnie (still ain't the same) and a few are with Ronnie. Live collections on a 'best of' are fine but it always irritates me when it replaces the studio cut as a few do here. Give us both; we can handle it.
Sonically, this collection has been digitally remastered and sounds really good. You won't be disappointed with what you get. You'll be especially pleased with the unreleased "Blues Medley" that includes BB King's "Sweet Little Angel"; Jane Feather's "How Blue Can You Get"; and the traditional "I Got a Mind To Give Up Living". This included gem smokes right out of the box and is as sonically pure despite the fact that it was recorded in 1970. Blues fit Lynyrd Skynyrd well. Ronnie Van Zant slips on his blues voice as easy as any man ever has.
Other songs like "I Ain't The One" and "That Smell" are quality tunes that sound delightful in their remastered state.
This 2CD set comes in a brilliant jewel box (2CDs contained in a standard box and accessible by a flip tray). Additionally, the booklet is 24 pages and includes a well documented historical essay as well as extensive credits for the songs. There's plenty of photographs including a great shot (I believe) from their Street Survivors period. Finally, there is an included sticker celebrating their 30 years.
With incredible guitar talents left off the ill-advised Rolling Stone list fiasco of 2003 and a dynamic rhythm section along with vocal talents, Lynyrd Skynyrd are of of the farthest reaching rock bands that is rightfully deserving of this collection. Retrospectively and short of a definitive Box Set, Thyrty is representative of a band that showcased music that is seemingly a lost art these days.
30 songs seems hardly enough. Buy...and enjoy.
Copyright © 2002-2003 Matthew Rowe. All rights reserved.
The 30th Anniversary Collection
Released: August 12, 2003
Ronnie Van Zant: