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Released - October 14, 1977, on MCA Records. Produced by Tom Dowd, except "One More Time", produced by Jimmy Johnson & Tim Smith
Ronnie Van Zant - Lead Vocals
Ed King - Rhythm Guitar on "One More
Street Survivors was the very last studio album released by the real Lynyrd Skynyrd, just three days before the terrible plane crash that killed singer Ronnie Van Zant and guitarist Steve Gains, along with Gains' sister, backing singer Cassie, and road manager Dean Kilpatrick. The rest of the band members were all severely injured in the crash, and they would break up after this tragedy.
I had brought this LP the day before the crash, but hadn't had a chance to play it yet when I heard the news on the radio the next day about their fate. I recall it hurt to hear this album for a few of the first spins I gave it, just hearing how good these tracks were and how once again, rock n roll music lost a few more giants, at a time when rock music was slowing starting to go downhill. The music output on this LP was so full of energy, such a solid band; they were just what the genre needed, yet just like that, they were gone.
Street Survivors starts out with two of its three best songs, opening with "What's Your Name", based in part about a true event (a hotel bar fight) that took place on the road. As it was, a few of the songs on this album were written about real life happenings, including the next song, "That Smell". Co-written by Allan Collins and Van Zant, it is about the out of control lifestyles the band members were leading, and also in part about a car wreck that Gary Rossington caused when he hit an oak tree (among other things) while driving drunk. Sadly, the song was also a eerie look at the band's and Collins' future. Besides the plane crash, for Collins, he himself would be involved in several more tragedies in the next decade. He would lose his wife, Kathy, in '80 to a hemorrhage following a miscarriage, and he himself would be involved in a drunken car wreak in '86 that would kill his girlfriend and paralyze him from the neck down, which in 1990 would lead to his death. For the rest of the band, in time only Rossington and Artimus Pyle would not die young.
One uplifting and positive song on the LP, and the third of the three great numbers found on here, is "You Got That Right", written in part by Steve Gains. Steve sang the vocal harmony with Van Zant on this one, and their voices sounded excellent together. Before he joined up, almost all of the vocals on Lynyrd Skynyrd songs were sang by Van Zant. But Steve Gains, besides showing that he was a very good guitar player and song writer, could sing too, and the future with him in the band more than likely would have meant for some interesting future sounding albums, with perhaps both sharing more vocals together.
One more better than average song on here, penned by Steve Gains and sang by Van Zant, was "I Know a Little", yet another upbeat number. Then we have one more song about true life, "I Never Dreamed", a tune co-written by Steve Gains and Van Zant, where Van Zant sings about how his priorities had changed after finding the love of his life and having a child.
A solid album for sure, and still sad to think what could have been if this band had been able to play on.
- Keno 2008
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