Ah, those were the days… the school Sixth Form common room, with it’s battered old turntable in the corner – and an equally battered copy of the 12” extended version of ‘Freebird’ sitting right beside it… and blasted out at maximum volume every each and every break time for a solid eight months, as a certain long-haired suvern-rock lovin’ history student always won the race to stick the needle in the groove ahead of the Joy Division loving saddos….
And, so we wind the clock forward and said piece of vinyl is still very much a treasured possession of yours truly – sitting more than comfortably alongside this latest masterpiece from the band that, in those halcyon, sun-kissed, doped-up afternoons, were affectionately referred to as ‘Leonard Skinhead’ (gwan, say the name with a Belfast accent…).
Skynyrd have been through more than their fair share of travails, but, if anything, those traumatic experiences have made the band stronger – and the evidence is in this, the Alabama veterans’ 13th studio album in almost 40 years: one which is probably their strongest and most consistent since the heady days of the ‘70s and masterworks such as ‘Nuthin Fancy’ and ‘Gimme Back My Bullets’ – and definitely their best all-round release since the awesome ‘The Last Rebel’ back in ’93. Yes, the last studio project, ‘Gods And Guns’, had its moments, but it’s country rock experimentation did not deliver a signature album such as this…
From the balls out traditional boogie of the title track (and lead single) to the laconic dustbowl slide blues of ‘Start Livin’ Life Again’, via the melancholic philosophy of ‘One Day At A Time’, the Delta-soaked stomp of ‘Mississippi Blood’, the winding retrospective smokiness of ‘Something To Live For’, the bittersweet driving melody of ‘Life’s Twisted’, the huge anthemic swamp groove of ‘Nothing Comes Easy’ and the powerhouse ‘Honey Hole’ this album is a true exemplar of a classic band at the height of their powers.
If we could give this 20/10 believe me we would, but we’ll have to settle for 10/10.
1. Last Of A Dyin’ Breed
2. One Day At A Time
4. Ready To Fly
5. Mississippi Blood
6. Good Teacher
7. Something To Live For
8. Life’s Twisted
9. Nothing Comes Easy
10. Honey Hole
11. Start Livin’ Again
12. Poor Man’s Dream (bonus track)
13. Do It Up Right (bonus right)
14. Skynyrd Nation (live CR fan pack bonus track)
15. Gimme Three Steps (live CR fan pack bonus track)
‘Last Of A Dyin’ Breed’ is released as a ‘Classic Rock’ fan pack on August 20th, and on CD/Special Edition CD on Roadrunner Records on September 17th.