Next month, Lynyrd Skynyrd will release its new archived concert recording Sweet Home Alabama. The double disc recording is the first of a handful of archived recordings to be released by the band this year. And it is also the best of said recordings. The main way in which it impresses so easily is the list of songs included on both discs. The set list featured in the main concert (Disc 1) features mostly music from the original LS lineup. The only more recent song included in the main set is the song ‘Down South Jukin,’ which is included on the band’s 1994 compilation record Endangered Species. Other than that one song, the rest of the concert’s set list is pure, classic Lynyrd Skynyrd. The recording’s second disc features its own share of classic Lynyrd Skynyrd tunes, too. For that matter, it includes what are perhaps two of the biggest of the band’s many hits. It does so twice over, too which leads to another of the recording’s positives. Not only do fans get a complete set from the then current Lynyrd Skynyrd lineup in this recording but they also get a few songs from the original Lynyrd Skynyrd lineup from its 1974 performance at the famed Rockpalast festival. Last but not least of all worth noting of this recording is its audio mix. The audio mix stands out in a subtle yet important way in this recording. This will be discussed later. Being taken into consideration with the recording’s set lists and its presentation of Skynyrd from two eras, the whole of Sweet Home Alabama proves to be another great addition to any Skynyrd fan’s music library. What’s more it proves yet again why Eagle Rock Entertainment is the leader in live recordings.
Eagle Rock Entertainment’s upcoming archived Lynyrd Skynyrd performance Sweet Home Alabama is a great addition to any Lynyrd Skynyrd fan’s music library. The double disc CD set is a follow-up of sorts to the concert’s DVD presentation, which was originally released in 2008. It hasn’t been until now that the concert’s CD presentation will have seen the light of day. For those that have not had the pleasure of seeing the original DVD presentation of Sweet Home Alabama its 2-CD platform is just as welcome as the DVD. The main reason that it is such a welcome addition to any LS fan’s music library is its set lists. Presented here are two set lists from two completely different eras of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s life. By and large, both set lists are composed of classic LS songs. The only “newer” song featured in the whole of the presentation is ‘Down South Jukin.’ That song was taken from the band’s 1994 album Endangered Species. Other than that one song, the rest of the recording is made up of nothing but classic LS dating all theway back to the band’s debut 1973 record (Pronounced leh-nerd Skin-nerd). It includes some of the band’s biggest hits including ‘Saturday Night Special,’ ‘Workin’ For MCA,’ ‘Swamp Music’ and of course perhaps the biggest of the band’s many hits ‘Sweet Home Alabama’ and ‘Free Bird.’ In regards to ‘Free Bird,’ audiences will be happy to know that both in the band’s 1996 performance and that from 1974, it is featured in its entirety. The only real surprise of the whole recording is that there’s no sign of ‘Tuesday’s Gone’ or ‘The Ballad of Curtis Loew.’ Beggars can’t be choosers, though. Even with the absence of either song, audiences still get quite the impressive collection of songs considering the makeup of these two shows. It’s just one way in which Sweet Home Alabama proves itself a welcome addition to any LS fan’s music library.
The songs that make up Sweet Home Alabama’s two set lists more than make for a great concert for fans. They are tied directly in to another way in which it proves itself a great addition to any LS fan’s music library–its presentation of LS in two different lineups and eras. Audiences get in the main concert LS in its then present lineup featuring former front man Ronnie Van Zant’s brother Johnny on vocals. He is joined by many of Ronnie’s old band mates and some new members including: Rickey Medlocke, Hughie Thomasson, Dale Krantz-Rossington, and Carol Chase. The bonus 1974 concert features a handful of performances by the original LS lineup of Ronnie Van Zant, Gary Rossington, Allen Collins, Ed King, Billy Powell, Leon Wilkeson, Owen Hale, and Bob Burns. Listening to both lineups, it is amazing to hear the strength and fire that still burned bright under the band in 1996, nearly two decades after one of the music world’s worst tragedies. Of course that could be chalked up to the fact that the surviving band members did in fact take some time away for themselves after that fateful plane crash in 1977. Considering the band’s strength and stage presence in its 1974 show, it makes that plane crash all the more tragic. That is because the ’74 show presented a band at the top of its game. One can only imagine what the original LS lineup would have sounded like if not for that horrible tragedy only three years later. Sadly the world will never know. Regardless, it is clear that LS was obviously back on top of its game in its ’96 show. Considering the band’s strength and stage performance in both shows, it paints a vivid picture of the band’s bond both in its old era and its then new era. That picture of strength in both lineups makes even more clear what makes Sweet Home Alabama a welcome addition to any LS fan’s music library.
The set lists that make up Lynyrd Skynyrd’s 1996 and 1974 Rockpalast performances make for plenty of reason that any of the band’s fans will want to add this recording to their music libraries. The strength and solid stage presence presented by both lineups adds even more interest to the recording. That is because it puts on exhibit LS before the tragedy that would forever change it and the band years after that tragic crash. Both elements are important in their own way to the whole of Sweet Home Alabama. They are not all that makes it another impressive live recording from LS and Eagle Rock Entertainment. The concerts’ production values should be taken into consideration in examining the recording, too. Every part within the songs is expertly balanced. Even with recording technology having changed a lot since 1974 that recording sounds just as good as the band’s ’96 show. On another, more subtle level, those charged with handling the shows’ audio mixes both at the concerts and in post production are to be commended for their efforts. They are especially worthy of praise for balancing the audio levels both during the band’s performances of its songs and in the interludes in which the Van Zant brothers each interact with the audiences. This means that audiences don’t have to constantly turn up and down the volume on their radios from one song to the next. It’s an aspect of live recordings that far too few audio engineers take into account when preparing live shows for purchase. Thankfully those handling these concerts’ audio did. The end result of their efforts is two concerts that are just as enjoyable for their expert audio production as for the shows’ set lists and the band’s stage presence. It is one more way in which Sweet Home Alabama shows itself one more welcome addition to any LS fan’s music library and why once again Eagle Rock Entertainment has proven itself the leader in live recordings.
Staying on the element of the recording’s audio mix, the clarity of the concerts’ interludes reveals some language that older audiences might find objectionable for some younger listeners. This includes both the performances of the songs and the interludes. Being that this is not noted anywhere on the packaging for the dual-disc set, it should at least be noted here. It means that audiences should use their discretion in listening and letting younger listeners hear this recording. That aside, it is still a recording that at least older LS fans will enjoy. That’s not to say that younger audiences can’t enjoy these two concerts. But older audiences should use their discretion in letting younger listeners hear certain parts of the concerts.
Sweet Home Alabama is not the only live Lynyrd Skynyrd recording to be released this year. It is however the best live Lynyrd Skynyrd live recording to be released so far. When comparing it to the others planned for release this year, it proves in the end to be potentially the best of the band’s planned live releases. That is thanks first and foremost to the set lists that make up both concerts. The set lists are composed mainly of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s classics save for just one song. Getting to hear Lynyrd Skynyrd both before and after its untimely tragedy paints a vivid picture of a band that has proven just as strong both before and after. Each element by itself shows why Sweet Home Alabama is another welcome addition to any LS fan’s library. All three elements together show it not only to be a great addition to any LS fan’s personal music collection but yet another reason that Eagle Rock Entertainment remains to this day the leader in live recordings. It will be available Tuesday, June 2nd in a double-disc presentation and will retail for MSRP of $17.98. A 2-LP is also scheduled for release later this year. More information on this and other titles from Eagle Rock Entertainment is available online at:
To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.