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Thursday, 26 July 2018

45RPM #129 Freebird - Lynyrd Skynyrd (November 1974)

I can hardly believe it's been more than a year since I last did a post in the 45RPM series and so I thought why not kick start the old beast again with a real classic from the vaults of Rock Music History.

Mention the name Lynyrd Skynyrd and your are guaranteed to hear mentioned one of two songs from their arsenal of classics, one would be Sweet Home Alabama and the other of course would be Free Bird

We all no doubt have at one time or another been to a concert when the particular performer asks for requests and more often than not there will be at least one person standing there, pint in hand, shouting out loud "Free Bird"! This happens at gigs of all sorts of bands and not those dedicated to the playing of Classic Rock.

And so, we turn our attention towards Free Bird (the Signature song of Lynyrd Skynyrd) and ponder afresh the absolute wonder of it and the sheer beauty of of a band, each with a specific part to play, bringing into being what is surely one of the greatest Rock songs of any time and quite simply of all time.

It's one that I dig out every now and again because if it is over-played it begins to lose a little of its wonder and I heard the original 1972 version recorded at Muscle Shoals recently and it got me thinking about doing this piece today.

Free Bird / Down South Junkin'
MCA Records
Produced by Al Kooper
Released November 1974
US Chart #19
UK Chart #21

1974 Single Version

More Links Below for other versions of Freebird and more music from Lynyrd Skynrd.


Released on the 2013 Muscle Shoals Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (Republic Records).

Lynyrd Skynyrd
Free Bird
Studio version (1973)

    Ronnie Van Zant – vocals
    Allen Collins – lead and acoustic guitars
    Gary Rossington – rhythm and slide guitars
    Ed King – bass guitar
    Billy Powell – piano
    Bob Burns – drums
    "Roosevelt Gook" (Producer Al Kooper) – organ, mellotron

Additional personnel
    Steve Gaines* – Addition of lead and rhythm guitars

*Gaines had replaced guitarist Ed King who left the band in 1975 and on his third gig playing for the band they were recording what was to become their One More For The Road live album. Gaines was also one of the band members who sadly died three days after the release of their 1977 album Street Survivors in a plane crash along with Ronnie Van Zandt, Cassie Gaines (back up singer and sister of Steve Gaines), and assistant road manager Dean Kilpatrick, pilot Walter McCreary, and co-pilot William Gray were the other fatalities! 

(1976 UK 7" Picture Sleeve)

One of the greatest musical crimes ever committed by a record label has to be by MCA Records releasing Freebird by Lynyrd Skynyrd as a 7" Single in 1974 cutting four minutes and twenty seven seconds off of the version that appeared on their 1973 debut album 'Pronounced 'Lĕh-'nérd 'Skin-'nérd' (I mean they could have been crafty enough to at least split the song into two parts and have part two as the B-Side, but they didn't!). Such an act, if done to a movie or a book would be greeted with such horror as a vital part of the film or story would be lost! Likewise with the "editing" of this classic song, the cut removes aspects of the song that make it stand out as one of the finest songs ever recorded by a rock and roll band. 

Now, of course I understand that it was merely done for the purpose of having the song played on the radio at the time (I wouldn't have imagined that there were that many DJ's who would have got away with playing the full length album version) but still....

The song has been included in The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll, was listed as #193 in Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. In 2008 it was listed at the #3 in Guitar World's 100 Greatest Guitar Solos.  In 2009 it was considered by VH-1 to be the 26th Best Hard Rock Song of All Time. In the Digital Age the song has sold over two million copies worldwide!

Freebird was originally recorded at Muscle Shoals in 1972 but the tracks from those sessions never saw the light of day until 1978 when Skynyrd's First and...Last was released (but Freebird wasn't actually included in that release! It only turned up on the 1998 Reissue entitled Skynyrd's First: The Complete Muscle Shoals Album and was also included as part of the Soundtrack for the film about Muscle Shoals).

The introduction to the song was put together by piano-playing roadie Billy Powell (with Al Kooper adding some nice touches on the Organ and Mellotron) and when the band heard it (he was apparently playing a piano version of the song during a break at an event in 1972 when Skynyrd were playing a Prom event at The Bolles School in Jacksonville), they included it in the song and then invited him to join the band as keyboard player (a position that he held between 1972-77, 1979 and 1987 until his death in 2009)! The extended guitar solos on the studio version (performed by Allen Collins and Steve Gaines) initially were used as part of the live set due to the band playing several sets a night in the clubs thus giving vocalist Ronnie Van Zant a chance to catch his breath and preserve his voice for the work ahead. Behind the guitar dynamics of Collins and Gaines was the steady hand of Gary Rossington keeping the Rhythm Guitar section motoring forward alongside the Bass of Ed King and the beat master on the Drum stool was Bob Burns.

To this date Gary Rossington (the last remaining member of the original band) is out on the road with Lynyrd Skynyrd as they play their Last of the Street Survivors Farewell Tour, the US leg began in May and stretches into September and dates are expected outside of the USA as well. Brother of original vocalist Ronnie Van Zandt, Johnny Van Zandt is on the lead vocals (he's been the frontman since 1987), and sometimes he really does sound like old Ronnie! There's actually a nice touch and tribute to Ronnie during the performance of Free Bird during the Farewell Tour shows that you can see below.

 Lynyrd Skynyrd - Free Bird
Jones Beach, June 23 2018

Wednesday, 25 July 2018

S4L Radio Show #10: The Seventies

This time around on the S4L Radio Show our ears are to be enlightened by the music of the 1970s. We go from long hair and flared jeans to short cropped dyed hair and drainpipes. From old hippies to young punks.

It's a nice mixed bag of Classic Rock, Glam, New Wave and Punk. The Playlist is loaded with music that I love from that particular decade and the reality is that it could have had a lot more songs than 23 because there was so many great records released back then. It's easy to dismiss a lot of stuff that came before the whole Punk and New Wave Scene and many did and thus miss out on some terrific music. Hopefully you'll find maybe a few tracks here that will make you tap your toes.

On The Playlist
Rock and Roll - Velvet Underground
Into The Mystic - Van Morrison
The Shape of Things To Come - Slade
Looking At You - MC5
Roadhouse Blues - The Doors
As Long As I Can See The Light - Creedence Clearwater Revival
Changes - David Bowie
48 Crash - Suzi Quatro
Teenage Rampage - Sweet
The Golden Age of Rock and Roll - Mott the Hoople
Search and Destroy - The Dictators
Lust For Life - Iggy Pop
Land - Patti Smith
Little Johnny Jewel - Television
In The Flesh - Blondie
Sheena is a Punk Rocker - Ramones
Psycho Killer - Talking Heads
Neat Neat Neat (Peel Session) - The Damned
Police & Thieves - The Clash
Your Generation - Generation X
Schooldays - The Starjets
(My Baby Does) Good Sculptures - The Rezillos
The Beginning of the End - Eddie and the Hot Rods

Friday, 20 July 2018

New Music 2018: Subversions - U.K. Subs (June)

Subversions - U.K. Subs
Cleopatra Records
Produced by Pat Collier and U.K. Subs
Released June 2018

Released on Limited Edition Red Vinyl (500 Copies) and on CD

Listen To The Album In Full Here:

Click on the links to hear the original versions:
A1 Kick Out The Jams (MC5)    
A2 Train Kept A Rollin (The Johnny Burnette Trio)    
A3 I Don't Need No Doctor (Ray Charles via Humble Pie)    
A4 Boston Babies (Slaughter and The Dogs)    
A5 Tired Of Waking Up Tired (The Diodes)    
A6 This Perfect Day (The Saints)    
B1 Get Out Of Denver (Bob Seger)    
B2 Feel Good Hit Of The Summer (Queens of the Stone Age)   
B3 Bomber (
B4 Roadrunner (The Modern Lovers)    
B5 1969 (The Stooges)    
B6 Suffragette City  (David Bowie)


2018 seems like a busy year for the U.K. Subs as not only are they out on the road and releasing two 15CD Box Sets containing the full set of their albums in Alphabetical Order (Volume 1 is A-M and Volume 2 is N-Z), a brand new studio album plus a new EP coming in November but Charlie Harper (vocalist) released (in April) his second solo album, 'Little Black Crow' (Road Dog Records - his Debut Solo was called 'Stolen Property', it was an album of covers and released in 1982!), he also received the 'King Rocker/Icon' award at the Vive Le Rock! Awards in March and has also had an exhibition of his art alongside Gaye Black down in Sussex. Alvin Gibbs (bassist) is due to release his Debut Album in December under the banner of 'Alvin Gibbs and The Disobedient Servants'. Jamie Oliver (drummer) also has a side project called You and they released their Debut Single (in April) entitled 'Selfish'.

U.K. Subs are no strangers to Cover Versions as over the period of 40 plus years they have played a fair few and even recorded and released some - 'She's Not There' (lead track on the 1979 EP), 'I'm Waiting For The Man' (B-Side of 'Warhead') - and there have been a fair few released on various albums as well but a whole album's worth is something they have not done before (at least as far as I can remember!).

Of all the tracks on Subversions I have to confess to not actually knowing two of them (the Queens Of The Stone Age track 'Feel Good Hit of the Summer' and Canadian band The Diodes' 'Tired Of Waking Up Tired').

As for the other ten they are pretty magnificent. The U.K. Subs are not over fancy and what you get is 12 tracks of raw power from beginning to end. The choices are interesting as there's a couple that would no doubt have been played by the teenage David Charles Perez ('Train Kept a Rollin' and 'I Don't Need No Doctor') and would be quite obscure to the rest of the band possibly and the rest, there's a number of Classic Rock tracks spanning the early 70s, a few Punk/New Wave Classics, a wee tribute to the genius of Lemmy's Motörhead, and the "newest" track is the Queen of the Stone Age song (and that's 18 years old!).

At 74 years old it's great seeing and hearing Charlie still doing what he loves and the current line up of the band is pretty tight and tidy as well. How much longer it goes on who knows but while they are still up and at 'em I'm going to enjoy listening and watching as I have done so for as long as the band have been around! 

U.K. Subs
Live at 100 Club, London
19th May 2018

Friday, 13 July 2018

S4L Radio Show Playlist #9: Singing Song Songs

When I was playing my iPod recently on shuffle I noticed that quite a number of songs following each other had the word "Song" in them. Of course this got me thinking about put together a wee playlist under the banner of Singing Song Songs.

It's a mixture of the wild and whacky (what else would it be from me?) from the seriousness of Leonard Cohen, Johnny Cash & Joe Strummer to the plain daft of The Yobs!
There's Pop, there's Rock and everything inbetween and outside the lines. Hope you enjoy it.

The Playlist

On The Playlist
Radio Song (Tower of Luv Bug Mix) - R.E.M.
The Gold Song - Bouncing Souls
Song For A Future Generation - The B-52's
Song For Whoever - The Beautiful South
Wrote A Song For Everyone - John Fogetry (ft Miranda Lambert & Tom Morello)
Song For A Friend - Aztec Camera
Sing All The Saddest Songs - The Mighty Wah
The Worm Song _ The Yobs
Swansong - The Alarm
Tower Of Song - Leonard Cohen
This Is A Love Song For The Loveless - The Juliana Theory
The Mystery Song - Transvision Vamp
The Breakup Song - The Greg Kihn Band
Sea Song - Penetration
Looking For A Song - Big Audio Dynamite
Redemption Song - Johhny Cash & Joe Strummer
Empire Song - Killing Joke
Festival Song - Good Charlotte
Fort Bragg (The Kool-Aid Song) - Beki Hemingway
Like A Song - U2
Authority Song - John Mellencamp
The Parting Shot
The Last Song - Thousand Foot Krutch

Sunday, 1 July 2018

New Music 2018: Let's Ride - MxPx (June 2018)

Let's Ride - MxPx
From the fortchcoming album MxPx due out July 2018

 New Album Tracklist:
01. Rolling Strong
02. All Of It
03. Friday Tonight
04. Let’s Ride (RADIO SINGLE)
05. Uptown Streets
06. 20 / 20 Hindsight
07. The Way We Do
08. Life Goals
09. Pipe Dreams
10. Disaster
11. Moments Like This

Haters Gonna Hate!
MxPx Respond to "Fan" Comments

MxPx, now in their 26th year of life, are getting ready to unleash their crowd-funded Self-Titled new record, their tenth studio album by the way if you were counting. 
They released a brand new video for a song from the new self-produced work entitled Let's Ride. The album was recorded in their hometown of Bremerton, Washington. It will be available as a Download and I think the CD is only available to those who ordered it on the Kickstarter site for the album. Not totally sure about the Vinyl and what kind of quantities it will exist in.

Live in Jarkartar, Indonesia
May 2018

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