Although I love going to concerts, I am generally not a big fan of live albums — because in most cases rarely do these collections capture the electricity executed in an onstage environment. There are exceptions, however, with Get Yer Ya Ya’s Out by the Rolling Stones, the Who’s Live at Leeds, Deep Purple’s Made In Japan, the J. Geil’s Band’s Blow Your Face Out, and Foghat’s Live standing as personal favorites.
Lynyrd Skynyrd’s One More From The Road (MCA Records) also holds a special place in my heart. Recorded July 1976 at the Fabulous Fox Theater in Atlanta, Georgia, the double package documents the Jacksonville, Florida band at the peak of its powers. By the time the disc emerged, Lynyrd Skynyrd had released four fine studio albums and even gleaned a trio of top 40 hit singles, including “Sweet Home Alabama,” “Free Bird,” and “Saturday Night Special.” Serious road warriors, Skynyrd gained a large and loyal following across the country, duly elevating them into the major leagues.
Borrowing a handful of quotes from the southern stylings of the Allman Brothers and incorporating such an influence with a grain of gospel, the swampy vibe of Creedence Clearwater Revival, and bluesy swagger of the Rolling Stones and Steppenwolf, Lynyrd Skynyrd deposited a melodic hard-rocking pitch that was both familiar and unique.
Competition was incredibly stiff at the hour the band entered the ring, with acts like Led Zeppelin, Grand Funk, Deep Purple, Aerosmith, Foghat and Blue Oyster Cult occupying the guitar-oriented arena, but thanks to their enormous talent, combined with whale-sized doses of drive and determination, surefire success was guaranteed.
Exploding with energy and skintight performances, “One More From The Road” is party central all the way. The sound quality is excellent and excitement engulfs the air, making the listener feel as if they were right there in the audience, soaking up the enthusiasm and sweat. Jamming guitars, joined by pumping piano passages and captivating choruses pervade the gig. Throughout the album, Lynyrd Skynyrd boogies, smokes, reels and rivets with fierce hunger.
Be it the rough and tough ode to the band’s label, “Workin’ For MCA,” the somber sentiment of “Tuesday’s Gone,” the redneck romp of “Gimme Three Steps,” the greasy and sleazy “Whiskey Rock-N-Roller” or blistering covers of Robert Johnson’s “Crossroads” and JJ Cale’s “Call Me The Breeze,” Lynyrd Skynyrd tackles these tunes with naked emotions. Vibrant versions of “Free Bird,” “Saturday Night Special,” and “Sweet Home Alabama” appear on the album as well.
I can certainly attest to Lynyrd Skynyrd’s live prowess, as I saw them less than a year after One More From The Road was issued. The date was July 4, 1977, the location was Oakland, California, and it was one of those now-legendary Day On The Green events. Lynyrd Skynyrd was absolutely incredible, and decades later the show remains fresh in my mind. Other bands on the bill were Peter Frampton, the Outlaws, and Santana, resulting in a great concert altogether.
Then tragedy struck. On October 20, 1977, lead singer Ronnie Van Zant, guitarist Steve Gaines and singer Cassie Gaines were killed in a plane crash, while the surviving members were terribly injured. Despite the horrible loss, the band eventually carried on and continue to tour and make records to this very day. Still, there’s no denying One More From The Road represents the golden era of Lynyrd Skynyrd.
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