Lynyrd Skynyrd – (Pronounced ‘Lĕh-‘nerd ‘Skin-‘nérd) (1973)
This week on YDCS we’re going to take a look at the debut album by a southern rock band that has come to be strongly associated with arena rock anthems and has nearly single-handedly defined a genre, Lynyrd Skynyrd. The band, led by frontman Ronnie Van Zant, would go on to be a mega-act that spawned some of the most recognizable songs on classic rock radio with this self-titled debut that included tracks like Tuesday’s Gone, Gimme Three Steps, Simple Man, and Free Bird. Lynyrd Skynyrd would go on to craft four more legendary rock albums before taking a fourteen-year recording hiatus after a tragic plane crash that killed multiple band members, including Van Zant, guitarist and singer Steve Gaines, and backup singer Cassie Gaines.
Pronounced is one of the titans of the classic rock genre that few albums, past or present, can stand up to. This album re-defined southern rock for the decade, moving from a Creedence Clearwater Revival-esque sound to music that sounds like this and putting the band in line with other popular acts like the Allman Brothers Band and the Marshall Tucker Band. The “Lynyrd Skynyrd Sound” was on full display starting with this, their debut album. They knew exactly how they wanted to sound, executed it flawlessly here, and left it virtually untouched on their next few major releases. This is quality work from a class act. Enjoy the album!
Dad’s Thoughts- The Breakdown
I Ain’t The One: This is a strong opening track on an album full of strong songs. This wasn’t one of the songs that the band was well-known for but it rocks as much as, for example, Gimme Three Steps later on the record. The musicianship on the instrumentation is really strong on this track and the drums to start the song off are unique and memorable. What I particularly like about this song is that you know exactly what kind of album you’re going to be listening to within the first minute of this song; you’re going to get big, free-wheelin’ guitar solos and southern rock. If you were looking for a song to skip, this “ain’t the one!” Dad’s Rating 8/10
Tuesday’s Gone: Tuesday’s Gone is the slowest track on the record. If there was an album that ever desperately needed a slower-paced track to break it up, then this album was it. There’s no big guitar solos here that you’ll peppered throughout other tracks, and this song doesn’t need it. I’m aware that this is one of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s more popular songs, but I can’t rate it higher in good conscience because it doesn’t show me anything amazing. This song doesn’t wow me or make me feel any particular way. I will say that the piano solo is fantastic and you shouldn’t skip over this song if only to listen to that. Tuesday’s Gone fulfills a purpose on this record and does it well. Dad’s Rating 7/10
Gimme Three Steps: Welcome back to classic Lynyrd Skynyrd after taking a break at Tuesday’s Gone. Your regularly scheduled loud guitar solos will now re-commence. Gimme Three Steps is a classic rock staple for a few good reasons: it’s easily recognizable, fun to listen to, and it rocks out! This isn’t a complex song, the instrumentation, vocals, and messaging are all clear. Try shredding out during the guitar solo on your way home from work, it’ll make the commute a little sweeter. Dad’s Rating 8/10
Simple Man: I really enjoy the easiness of Simple Man, and I think it’s one of the highlights of the album. Opening the song with the soft acoustic guitar that lets Van Zant’s vocals through does the song great justice. The vocals throughout the song are strong, even during the softer instrumental portions, and the swells throughout the song, particularly during the chorus, help keep it from going stale. Rossington’s guitar solo is so hot that the term “face-melting guitar solo” might have even originated here! Simple Man is a wholly deserving winner of the “They Don’t Make Music Like This Anymore Award.” Dad’s Rating 10/10
Things Goin’ On: Things Goin On, and the following track, Mississippi Kid are the two overlooked songs on this album, sandwiched between Simple Man and Free Bird. I like this song quite a bit actually and regret having previously passed it over. This track has more dynamic musicianship than some of the other deep cuts on Pronounced. Between the piano in the chorus and “oom-pah” feel of the song, I could almost imagine listening to this in a saloon. This is a prime example of the southern rock genre that Lynyrd Skynyrd worked in so well. Dad’s Rating 7/10
Mississippi Kid: The flow between Things Goin’ On and Mississippi Kid is fantastic. The former song rolls right into the latter. This is a great show of the band’s country roots coming through and is a nice break from loudness of the electric guitars found throughout almost every other song on the album. There are still electrics on this track but they are reduced to a supporting role for the acoustics. The harmonica solo is quite excellent and really ties feel of the song together nicely. Dad’s Rating 7/10
Poison Whiskey Poison Whiskey suffers for being buried in this album with mega-tracks like Free Bird and Simple Man rising above this one. This isn’t a bad song by any means, it’s just not particularly special. It doesn’t make you feel like the Big 3 do, and that’s actually okay because not every song has to. If every song made you think about grand ideas and messages, then you would be mentally exhausted after listening to an album. The instrumentation is solid here and the piano solo is funky and rocks out! All said, this is a fun song. It’s not musically or lyrically complex, but worth a listen if only for the fact that it’s not hard to listen to. Dad’s Rating 6/10
Free Bird: FREEEEEEEE BIRRRRRRRD!! (That’s the only time I’ll shout Free Bird in this review and I’ve been restraining myself up til now…) There’s really not much more you can say about Free Bird that hasn’t been said in the past 46 years since this record released. Free Bird is a classic because it displays some of the best musicianship, lyricism, and instrumentalism of 1970s classic rock. It incorporates orchestras, dynamic instrumentation, runs for over eleven minutes on the uncut version, and has what might be the most epic guitar solo ever laid down on a vinyl record. Words will never begin to give this song enough justice for how important it was in shaping classic rock for decades to come. This song alone could define the Southern Rock genre, and for that it earns the second “They Don’t Make Music Like This Anymore Award” on this album, making Pronounced the first album I have awarded multiple tracks 10/10 ratings. Well-deserved and literally well-played, this one’s for the band. Dad’s Rating 10/10
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