Lynyrd Skynyrd – Pronouned ‘Leh-‘Nerd ‘Skin-‘Nerd – Live from Jacksonville at The Florida Theatre – Blu-ray (2015)
Performers: Garry Rossington – guitar; Johnny Van Zandt – lead vocals; Rickey Medlocke – guitar; Michael Cartellone – drums; Mark Matejka – guitar; Peter Keys – keyboards; Johnny Colt – bass guitar; Gary Rossington – background vocals; Carol Chase – background vocals; Jim Horn – alto sax; Paul Jackson – trumpet; Myles Moore – bar. sax; Nick Campbell – percussion; Steve “Boxcar” Traum – harmonica
TrackList: I Ain’t The One; Tuesday’s Gone; Gimme Three Steps; Simple Man; Things Goin’ On; Mississippi Kid; Poison Whiskey; Free Bird; Sweet Home Alabama; I Need You; Don’t Ask Me No Questions; Workin’ For MCA; The Ballad Of Curtis Loew; Swamp Music; The Needle And The Spoon; Call Me The Breeze
Studio: Eagle Vision EVB335139 [10/23/15]
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; PCM 2.0 Stereo
Video: 1.78:1 for 16:9 1080i HD Color
Length: 117 minutes
Extras: “An Intimate Backstage Visit With The Band”
Ratings: Audio: **** Video:***1/2
Lynyrd Skynyrd (and rock fans won’t need the phonetic spelling) were part of the vanguard that established Southern Rock. With their multi-guitar pronged attack and defiant attitude, the band rose to stardom, based on their phenomenal live shows. In particular, the extended live jams of the hit, “Free Bird” became their trademark in the early seventies. (The band had been together with different members since the mid-60s.). Working with producer and ex-leader of Blues Project and Blood Sweat & Tears Al Kooper, their first albums became crossover hits like The Allman Brothers. Then Lynyrd Skynyrd (who were named sarcastically after a high school gym teacher in Jacksonville who hated long hair) hit a cultural touchstone. In response to Neil Young’s “Southern Man” anti-South song, they recorded “Sweet Home Alabama”. This scathing response to Young (…”Southern Man don’t need him around, anyhow…”) rocketed the group to stardom.
But tragedy would forever inhabit the soul of this band. In 1977, a plane crash took the lives of band members Ronnie Van Zandt, Steve Gaines and Cassie Gaines along with management and crew. They were at their commercial and critical peaks. Eventually the band re-formed with new (and previous) members and soldiered on. Although the meteoric rise was never recaptured, the band was inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 2006. They continue to tour today and keep the brand alive.
Eagle Rock has released a Blu-ray of a performance in their hometown. Recorded at the Florida Theatre in Jacksonville, the muscular, accessible Southern Rock is presented in two sets, with songs from the first two albums. The first set, (Pronounced “Len-nerd ‘Skin-Nerd”) opens with the band’s procession to the stage to wild applause. As the loud chords of “I Ain’t The One” blast over the audience, Southern rock is underway. A power ballad (Tuesday’s Gone”) provides a change of pace. But when “Gimme Three Steps” unfolds the humorous and good time vibe takes over, Gary Rossington’s solo reminds everyone who the original lead guitar was. “Things Goin’ On” has a honky-tonk feel (especially with Peter Keys on piano). Finally the set is concluded with the anthem “Freebird”. Watching the momentum of this song build (although a video of Ronnie Van Zandt at the start helps), is impressive. This is loud, soulful rock with a message.
How do you follow that? The second set (Second Helping) offers up the mega-hit “Sweet Home Alabama”. It is quintessential and the crowd responds. With guitars blasting and piano tinkling, the song is explosive (except during the obligatory sing-along). The back-up singers (who are not always heard) add another layer. “I Need You” is an effective with slow-burning resonance. A sax/horn chorus turns up the intensity on “Swamp Music”. This band has always eschewed the familiar party themes and addressed issues. “The Needle And The Spoon” (another ratcheted-up jam) is a cautionary tale set to high-powered rock. The band finishes in style with a raucous cover of J.J. Cale’s “Call Me The Breeze”. A veteran band turning in a genuine, well-received performance.
While the Blu-ray transfer is crisp and precise, some of the shots have a purple haze from the stage lighting. The camera work is steady, and doesn’t jump around necessarily or overcompensate with indulgent audience footage. The audio (the 5.1 surround mix especially) captures the large full sound, but with precision and balance. There is separation and the overall mix is never dense. The bonus material included a “backstage visit” with the band.