Culturally, Americans are pretty much cousins to us in some aspects yet can be often be looked down upon in others in particular by us Europeans, often seeing their patriotism as something overbearing and a perhaps a little cringing at times. However, in this age of extremism, we see pride in ones nation as a bad thing that it breeds all manner of negative connotations. Yet for the Americans and especially those raised in the south, having pride in your nation comes through generations handed down in the stars and stripes flag and certainly music has carried that mantle especially those of southern origins.
Lynyrd Skynyrd and .38 Special are two in particular that personifies this archetypal American way of life, work hard, believe in yourself and you’ll achieve that American dream. Well within the bands they share siblings notably and this bands namesake, the Van Zant’s, both found their fame in Skynyrd and .38 Special and formed up on occasion making albums and a live album.
Van Zant live captures all of the influences that make up the two men that not only includes their own bands but a dash blues, a chunk of classic rock and a splash of country which as influences go so apparent from the get go with a whole slew of slide guitar thrown in for good measure, epic piano sections and Skynyrd inspired solos make up this live album.
Taking a track like `Red White & Blue’ it ultimately personifies the Van Zant and certainly the American way of life. You really do get to pear through the looking glass of Southern American culture from listening to these types of songs and bands. Hard work, loving their country and loving your family are orders of the day and to be honest as much as we’ve changed over the years, there’s still something very wonderful and charming about this existence, charming yet impossible to achieve. Of course, the brothers don’t do without doing some of the more famous songs like `Call Me The Breeze’ and `Sweet Home Alabama’ which go down a treat as always.
If you like your brand of Skynyrd induced southern rock with a huge heap of country and blues then you’ll absolutely love this. All these songs could literally be lifted from any Skynyrd or .38 Special album or dust collecting b-sides that the light of day has barely touched if it wasn’t for projects of this nature. If you don’t care then really you best stick to the more celebrated Skynyrd.
7.5/10- If you love your Skynyrd mixed with a heap of Country bounce then go buy it. If not we always got Sweet Home Alabama.
Stand out tracks:
`Red White & Blue’, `Call Me The Breeze’ and `Sweet Home Alabama’
1. Takin’ Up Space
2. Ain’T Nobody Gonna Tell Me What To Do
3. Sweet Mama
4. Wild Eyed Southern Boys
5. Things I Miss The Most
6. I Know My History
7. Help Somebody
8. Plain Jane
9. I Can’t Help Myself
10. I’m Doin’ Alright
11. Red White & Blue
12. My Kind Of Country
13. Call Me The Breeze
14. Sweet Home Alabama
Van Zant on the net: