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Lynyrd Skynyrd - 2012 Last Of A Dyin' Breed




ARTIST: Lynyrd Skynyrd
ALBUM: Last Of A Dyin' Breed
LABEL: Roadrunner
SERIAL: 1686176442
YEAR: 2012

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:

LINEUP: Johnny Van Zant - vocals * Gary Rossington - guitar * Ricky Medlocke - guitar * Mark Matejka - guitar * Johnny Colt - bass * Michael Cartellone - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Last Of A Dyin' Breed * 02 One Day At A Time * 03 Homegrown * 04 Ready To Fly * 05 Mississippi Blood * 06 Good Teacher * 07 Something To Live For * 08 Life's Twisted * 09 Nothing Comes Easy * 10 Honey Hole * 11 Start Livin' Life Again

RATING:

WEBLINKS: www.lynyrdskynyrd.com


Background
The title of Lynyrd Skynyrd's latest album is particularly apt when you consider Rossington is now the only member remaining from the bands famous 70's lineup, although Medlocke of course was in the band briefly in the early 70's also. The lineup is so diluted these days that it barely matters and the last few albums from the band have been awful in my opinion, as the band seemed to dissolve into some hard rock country haze, almost as boring as modern day .38 Special. The original spirit of the band has long since faded and it's amazing these guys haven't had a gold album since 'Street Survivors' in 1977. Given the amount of death and tragedy over the years it's a credit to the band that they carry on, but at what cost? This latest album is a retread of 2009's 'God and Guns', with a slew of tepid rock tracks that can barely be labeled 'Southern'.


The Songs
One question I asked myself while trudging through this album is who exactly is Skynyrd's audience now? Who are they appealing to? The songs are the type of ones you might hear on a typical country station, in the vein of Toby Keith or Tim McGraw or something. The lyrics are drivel about rednecks driving 4x4's through the mud, getting wasted, loose women in the neighbourhood and a nation in despair. These themes might sound common, but it's the way they handle them that leaves me cold. The music no longer suits the band, it's lost any identifiable trace of the past or even 10 or 20 years back and it sounds like they are simply trying to appeal to modern country fans, not hard rock ones. The title track is the only one with any hint of energy or Southern appeal, but Van Zant doesn't sound like he used to. He seems to have updated his vocal style to fit today's market, but anyone hoping to hear the guy from 1985 might wonder who this is. Most of the songs plod along, 'One Day at a Time' a good indication of this droning, slide guitar obsessed style. 'Homegrown' is the type of song that bothers me. If I heard this on the radio I'd never guess it was Skynyrd. It just comes off as another current country band with a heavy edge. The lyrics about some local bad girl wearing short skirts, riding motorbikes and tormenting the boys around town are cliched and total fluff. Of course there are token ballads, 'Ready To Fly' one of those emotional tracks that seems to be their calling card on every album. More worn out lyrics about Johnny loving his dear old mama and missing his old man who died for the cause in Vietnam. 'Mississippi Blood' is as stale as it sounds, introducing some swamp laden riffs mixed with worn out melodies that have been heard ad nauseum in the past. The next tale is about Van Zant's 'Good Teacher', some experienced local broad who taught him in the ways of love in the back seat of the car. He also graduated from the 'school of hard knocks'. The band bemoans the state of the nation in 'Something to Live For', complete with obnoxious organ work. This time it's another ballad, with social commentary and forced dramatics. The rest of the album isn't dissimilar to what preceded it and listening to it stretches me further than I can bear. This is terrible.


In Summary
This is on par with the latest UFO album for evidence of a band that needs to consider hanging it up. There's no comparison to Jackyl's latest album and this flop. Jackyl still have their original sound without any hint of pretentiousness. It's honest. What this is I'm not sure. What is certain is it's boring, so boring that .38 Special's 'Drivetrain' abomination seems like a classic in comparison. The audience for new music from the band must be diminishing to record lows also. I could imagine seeing the looks of disdain on fans as Van Zant announces these songs live. Let's face it, all punters want to hear is 'Freebird' and 'Sweet Home Alabama' for the millionth time, which is more sickening in many ways. But if you're looking for one of the dullest 'rock' albums imaginable then try this out, you'll come out dazed and shocked. It's that bad.


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Comments

#1 | gdazegod on August 17 2012 08:18:19
The other notable thing about this album, is that it was produced by Bob Marlette. It sounds like even the great BM wasn't able to save this album.. helpless
#2 | sabace on August 17 2012 08:26:51
I have'nt heard this so I can't comment on the music but your point of view about so called 'red necks ' lifestyle is pretty wide reaching! live and let live is my motto . None of our preferred lifestyles is perfect .
#3 | Eric on August 17 2012 13:11:36
No, a 'red neck' lifestyle isn't wide reaching but very much a part of the American fabric- a small thread but still... They can be found in every part of the U.S. and yes even Canada and Alun nailed it. I don't think I've ever owned a LS album- didn't have too, played on the radio incessantly and sadly still are. Never understood the appeal.
#4 | dangerzone on August 17 2012 14:43:08
Living in rural Illinois for years certainly exposed me to certain aspects of that lifestyle, so having seen it with my own eyes I feel safe making these assertions. That doesn't stop this album from being absolute rot.
#5 | jeffrey343 on August 21 2012 18:16:24
I have to offer a major dissenting opinion on this album... I've never been a huge Skynyrd fan, although I've always enjoyed the songs that have been (over)played on the radio since I was in high school. But after this review, I was compelled to give 'God and Guns' a listen on Rhapsody, and I was very pleasantly surprised. So when this once became available on Rhapsody this morning, I gave it a listen.

These guys are definitely not mailing it in. First things first - JVZ sounds as good as ever, and the production is top-notch. It does not sound rushed, and it is free from the technical issues that mar a lot of albums. So this is no half-baked effort. As for the songs - yeah, it has a definite modern vibe, not far off from lots of other hard rock these days. And it isn't too far from the harder side of country (although definitely harder). I went through a major country phase from the early 90s through the early 2000's, so I'm pretty familiar with country acts like Toby Keith, Travis Tritt, and Montgomery Gentry. A lot of what they do is more along the lines of southern rock than country (probably why they were among my favorite country artists). This is a harder version of that.

I can see Alun's point that these songs don't really break any new ground. And since I'm not overly familiar with their earlier material aside from their major hits, I can't greatly attest to how true this is to the spirit of their past music. But bands evolve, personnel change, and this album sounds good to me.

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