all-star Tribute to Lynyrd Skynyrd (Deadline)
not like there were high ex pectations going into this one.
A legitimately bad-ass band in their pre-plane-crash heyday,
Skynyrd spawned a million terrible bar bands; in recent years,
with a lesser Van Zandt at the helm, they themselves have
become a terrible bar band. So there’s that.
And here’s this: 13 legitimately bad-ass Skynyrd tunes, painstakingly
re-created by their Southern-rock peers and a handful of curveballs
from the hair-metal era (when’s the last time you heard the
name Dangerous Toys?). And talk about getting off on the wrong
foot: The disc lumbers out of the gate with a nearly 11-minute
“Free Bird,” rendered serviceably enough, I guess, by Molly
Hatchet, but with vocals by Charlie Daniels that could strip
the paint off a Dodge Charger. (That’s meant in a bad way.)
The Outlaws, or whoever’s calling themselves the Outlaws these
days, follow with a stiff “Sweet Home Alabama” that shows
just how poorly both the song and the act have aged.
You’d think original Skynyrd members Artimus Pyle and Ed King
would bring something more to offer on their “Double Trouble”
than just the band’s original backup singers, but no. There’s
a hint of a spark (heh) in Great White’s “Saturday Night Special,”
but that’s quickly extinguished by Canned Heat’s just-plain-awful
“That Smell.” Can’t you smell that smell? It’s the smell of
a band who should have quit decades ago.
It doesn’t get better, although Pat Travers at least attempts
to bring some life to “Gimme Back My Bullets.” But two things—well,
three, counting the “one original member performing as his
old band” thing, which always stinks—sink just about every
track here: Half of the bands insist on re-creating every
last note of the original recordings, which renders the songs
lifeless and difficult; and the recording quality throughout
most of the disc is of the straight-into-the-board variety,
which makes it about as exciting sonically as elevator music.
File this under Avoid at All Costs.
Sahm & Band
Sahm & Band (Collector’s Choice)
Sir Douglas Band
Tornado (Collector’s Choice)
These two Doug Sahm albums originally were released in 1973.
Jerry Wexler and Atlantic Records trumpeted their new signing,
creating a sizable buzz around the first album. This didn’t
translate into significant sales, and the second one appeared
(with a unique moniker that overtly referenced his original
quintet) six months later. Expectations for marketplace activity
being what they are, Atlantic became yet another label Sahm
was on and off. (In fact, his four decades of recordings are
scattered across so many companies, there’s yet to be a full-career
Happily, these albums now exist on their own, not tied to
what came before or after them. Three years ago this pair
appeared as a limited-edition set from Rhino Handmade titled
The Genuine Texas Groover. Where that release added
alternates and outtakes, these are straight reissues. It’s
actually nice to hear them exactly as they were conceived
and completed at the time.
Sahm & Band has the more consistent overall feel of
the two. Even with an array of big-name guests (Bob Dylan,
Dr. John, David Bromberg) coming and going, there’s an inviting
sense of camaraderie throughout. Twin fiddle here, horns there,
it’s held together by Sahm’s penchant for nearly every style
of music that wafted across the airwaves of Texas while he
was growing up. The exuberantly rendered harmony vocals on
“It’s Gonna Be Easy” feel like the heart of the proceedings,
as formidable players and singers let it roll out, like it’s
as easy as laying in a hammock under a shade tree. But there
they were, in a recording studio in New York City. Artists
and pros can sound at home wherever they may be.
Tornado was built upon tracks left over from the previous
album, and new songs recorded with different players in San
Francisco. While that has been a recipe for truckloads of
half-baked cakes from a wide range of acts, that’s not the
case here. Leaning more toward horn-driven blues and jazz,
the album is a showcase for Sahm’s writing, with him penning
eight of the 11 tunes (he’d only had two on the other). Add
in Tex-Mex, country, rock, and more. Doug Sahm tied it all
together: The guy just loved music.