Pronounced Leh-Nerd Skin-Nerd (Lynyrd Skynyrd)
Numbered Edition 180-gram LP Sourced from Original Master Tapes
Forget, for a moment, “Free Bird.” Consider, instead, the authentic down-home rowdiness, distinctive first-person narratives, searing triple-guitar front, gritty vocals, and bluesy boogie bluster. And the undeniable youthful hunger pumping through the subtly witty songs, all strongly rooted in Southern heritage and working-class values. Independent of the most-requested tune in history, Pronounced Leh-nerd Skin-nerd bleeds red, white, and blue and encapsulates the wondrous dichotomies of Southern rock.
Mastered from the original master tapes and pressed on 180g LP at RTI, this vinyl edition of the Floridian group’s ground-shaking debut is the equivalent of having access to the band’s amplifiers and producer Al Kooper’s control boards in the studio. Affording palpable spaciousness to each of the instruments, expanding the dynamic range, and clearing away previous tonal congestion, this version presents the septet’s raw, honest tunes in the most direct, hard-hitting sound they’ve ever enjoyed. It lays waste to all prior reissues—none of which on LP went back to the master tapes.
Months before Lynyrd Skynyrd enjoyed the privilege of recording its debut, the band entered its seventh year of playing juke joints and assorted dives in a bootstraps effort to land a deal. During a residency at a hardscrabble Georgian club, the group’s rambunctious rock, swaggering attitude, blue-collar determination, and country-reared cadence caught the ear of producer/musician Al Kooper. The rest is history. Kooper inked the ensemble to his new imprint and hustled everyone into a Georgia studio for sessions that occurred March through April 1973.
It’s at the Studio One space that Lynyrd Skynyrd flashed scampering tempos, cutting give-and-take riffs, loose barroom lines, and off-the-cuff vocalese that entirely separated its approach from that of the more jazz-styled affairs of the Allman Brothers Band. Confederate flags, empty whiskey bottles, cocked pistols, rotgut habits, scorned women, and prodigal drifters populate the songs, nearly all written from first-person perspectives that add to their genuineness. Prophetic touches—twinkling piano notes, soaring mellotrons, a one-off harmonica—provide ideal complements to the intertwined guitar melodies and singer Ronnie Van Zant’s comfortable gruffness and way of expressing local customs.
Whether it’s the them’s-fightin’-words edginess of the humorous albeit entirely believable Southern-etched yarn “Gimme Three Steps,” which sails on a triple mast of six-string exchanges and clicks heels to a trotting percussive beat that doubles as the sound of cowboy-boot heels, or the spiritual pleas and lived-in wisdom echoed on the barbed-wire balladry of “Simple Man,” Pronounced Leh-nerd Skin-nerd burns with forthright and freewheeling desire, rebellious and sincere earnestness. Seen from either a lyrical, musical, or performance perspective, there’s not a wasted second or awkward moment to be found.
Then, of course, there’s the sugary drip of Van Zant’s political ragtime-referencing affair “Things Goin’ On,” bluegrass-tinted swing of “Mississippi Kid,” and swampy get-go of “Poison Whiskey.” They all lead up to the epic “Free Bird,” a greasy slide-guitar anthem that no matter how many times it’s played or requested in jest, never loses its power to grip the listener’s emotions like an iron vice. What a record.
Lynyrd Skynyrd Pronounced Leh-nerd Skin-nerd Track Listing:
1. I Ain’t the One
2. Tuesday’s Gone
3. Gimme Three Steps
4. Simple Man
5. Things Goin’ On
6. Mississippi Kid
7. Poison Whiskey
8. Free Bird