Wednesday, April 16, 2014

second helping

Lynyrd Skynyrd took their triple guitar onslaught and conquered the radio with this satisfying sophomore serving of songs about the south land.  The success of their debut '(Pronounced 'Lĕh-'nérd 'Skin-'nérd)' had led to an opening slot touring with The Who.  Billy Powell says:   “We just went out with guns ablaze.  We wanted to blow the doors off. In some places, Skynyrd went down better than the Who.” 

Gary Rossington looked back:  “We were just a band that played clubs, teen dens and pubs. Then, all of a sudden, we were playing in stadiums for 30,000 people…We’d have shots of whiskey every night ’cause we were so scared.”

The band returned to the studio with producer Al Kooper to record 'Second Helping' at Record Plant Studios in Los Angeles, California and Studio One in Doraville, Georgia.  The sessions featured Ronnie Van Zant on lead vocals;   Gary Rossington on Gibson Les Paul guitar, rhythm and acoustic guitar on "Sweet Home Alabama";   Allen Collins on Gibson Firebird guitar;   Ed King on Fender Stratocaster guitar, slide guitar, rhythm guitar and bass on "I Need You" and "Don't Ask Me No Questions";  Billy Powell on keyboards, piano on "Sweet Home Alabama";   Leon Wilkeson on Gibson Thunderbird bass;   and Bob Burns on drums except for on "I Need You"; with Mike Porter taking drums on "I Need You";   Clydie King, Sherlie Matthews, and Merry Clayton & friends on background vocals on "Sweet Home Alabama";   Bobby Keys, Trewor Lawrence, and Steve Madiao on horns on "Don't Ask Me No Questions" and "Call Me the Breeze";  and Al Kooper on backing vocals, piano on "Don't Ask Me No Questions" and "The Ballad of Curtis Loew".   

'Second Helping' went to number twelve in the US and nine in Canada.  Johnny Van Zant looks back:   “‘Sweet Home Alabama’ came out and all of a sudden people went, ‘Oh, there’s a song called ‘Freebird’ on ‘Pronounced’.  You know, back then rock radio played albums, so all of a sudden, boom, ‘Second Helping,’ the whole album was being played on FM radio and then boom, they went back to ‘Pronounced’ and it was being played on the radio.”

Ed King considers:  “Ronnie Van Zant was an out-and-out genius.  Ronnie could be very profound. He was all about the working-class man. He had a great way with a simple story.”

'Sweet Home Alabama' became a breakthrough hit for the band, going to number eight on the US pop chart.  It was conceived as a tongue-in-cheek response to Neil Young's 'Southern Man'.   Ronnie Van Zant would reveal:   "We thought Neil was shooting all the ducks to kill one or two ... [It was] more of a joke than anything else.  Hey, I love Neil Young. My wife plays his records around the house all the time. He even dug the song himself. He understood that we weren’t serious. You gotta write about something. It’s tough.”

Big wheels keep on turning

Carry me home to see my kin
Singing songs about the Southland
I miss Alabamy once again
And I think it's a sin, yes

Well I heard mister Young sing about her

Well, I heard ole Neil put her down
Well, I hope Neil Young will remember
A Southern man don't need him around anyhow

Sweet home Alabama

Where the skies are so blue
Sweet Home Alabama
Lord, I'm coming home to you

In Birmingham they love the governor

Now we all did what we could do
Now Watergate does not bother me
Does your conscience bother you?
Tell the truth

Sweet home Alabama

Where the skies are so blue
Sweet Home Alabama
Lord, I'm coming home to you
Here I come Alabama

Now Muscle Shoals has got the Swampers

And they've been known to pick a song or two
Lord they get me off so much
They pick me up when I'm feeling blue
Now how about you?

Sweet home Alabama

Where the skies are so blue
Sweet Home Alabama
Lord, I'm coming home to you

Sweet home Alabama

Oh sweet home baby
Where the skies are so blue
And the governor's true
Sweet Home Alabama
Lord, I'm coming home to you
Yea, yea

'Second Helping'
full album:

Side one
1. "Sweet Home Alabama" Ed King, Gary Rossington, Ronnie Van Zant  4:43
2. "I Need You"  Rossington Van Zant  6:55
3. "Don't Ask Me No Questions"  King Rossington, Van Zant  3:29
4. "Workin' for MCA"  King, Van Zant 4:49
Side two
5. "The Ballad of Curtis Loew"  Allen Collins, Van Zant  4:51
6. "Swamp Music"  King, Van Zant  3:31
7. "The Needle and the Spoon"  Collins, Van Zant  3:53
8. "Call Me the Breeze" J. J. Cale 5:09

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