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Lynyrd Skynyrd – Street Survivors

May 1, 2023

Back in 1979/1980, I was living with a buddy in a duplex in Uptown Minneapolis partying like there was no tomorrow. My record collection was still in its infancy. A couple of young rednecks from across the street came over one night and were scandalized that my roommate and I did not have Lynyrd Skynyrd in our collection. Our taste was Elvis Costello, jazz, prog, Dylan, etc. – in their view we were weirdos.

It was not that I didn’t like Skynyrd. In those days I rarely bought music that was on the radio: Skynyrd was on the radio and Costello was not – so what are you going to spend your money on? Over the years I have picked up various Skynyrd albums on vinyl and CD, but I never owned Street Survivors.

Street Survivors is the last Skynyrd album recorded by original members Ronnie Van Zant and Allen Collins and is the sole Skynyrd studio recording by guitarist/vocalist Steve Gaines. Three days after the album’s release, the band’s chartered airplane crashed en route to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, killing the pilot, co-pilot, the group’s assistant road manager, and three band members (Van Zant, Gaines, and Gaines’ older sister, backup singer Cassie Gaines), and severely injuring most who survived the crash.

I recently picked up an original first/early pressing of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Street Survivors at an antique shop in Carefree Arizona for $10 (the rest of the crate was crap and overpriced – everything was $10). I know it is original due to the “fire cover,” the MCA label variation, the gatefold cover, and the runout markings. The cover is in good condition and includes original inserts. The wax is also in good condition. Given the vintage and condition of this pressing, I got a good deal.

The album cover was eventually changed to a cover without fire (based on the back cover photo) due to the crash. Reissues have returned to the fire cover.

Revised Cover

This album features Steve Gaines in a significant role. Ronnie loved him so much that he turned over the mic to Gaines on “Ain’t No Good Life” and shares the lead vocal with Gaines on “You Got That Right.” His guitar work is pretty insane too! Ronnie even said about Gaines that the band would “all be in his shadow one day.”

The album includes three major hits: “What’s Your Name, “ “That Smell” and “You Got That Right.” My favorite song on the album is a Merle Haggard cover: “Honky Tonk Night Time Man” which has smoking guitars. This is a great album, but it has the dark cloud of sadness of the death of band members – although the band would soldier on with other players, it would never be the same.

This album is proof I will pay more than $1 for a used record 😉.


From → Music Reviews

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