Today we have the second studio release from Lynyrd Skynyrd, aptly named “Second Helping”. As you may recall, I absolutely loved their debut album, and while this album has a couple of songs I’m not crazy about, it also has my two all-time favorite Lynyrd Skynyrd songs plus a healthy collection of other great classics.
The album opens with their biggest hit single, “Sweet Home Alabama”, written in response to “Southern Man” and “Alabama” by Neil Young. I love the calling out of Young in this song, and I appreciate the steadfast pride in their culture. I would hope and think, based on many factors, that Ronnie Van Zant in particular, was a smart enough man to see the pros and cons of his southern culture, and I think he does a good job paying homage to black southern America later in the album on “The Ballad of Curtis Loew”. “Sweet Home Alabama” is an instantly recognizable rock classic, and truly representative of the vibe and feel of southern rock and roll.
Later on side one we have “Don’t Ask Me No Questions”. If “Sweet Home Alabama” encapsulates southern rock, I truly believe “Don’t Ask Me No Question” encapsulates Ronnie Van Zant. Strong-willed, stubborn, independent and defiant, if you don’t know Ronnie Van Zant, you will after this song, and it absolutely rocks as well. Side one ends with “Workin’ for MCA”, Van Zant’s cynical take on life as a contracted servant to the record company.
Side two opens with the beautiful and previously mentioned “The Ballad of Curtis Loew”, and I would like to think that this song, just as the Allman Brothers had with their racially diverse lineup, helped to break down old stereotypes and to help others learn to love and appreciate all people for who they are, not what they look like or where they come from. I don’t necessarily love “Swamp Music” or “The Needle and the Spoon”, but side two closes with my absolute favorite Lynyrd Skynyrd song, “Call Me the Breeze”. The mix of guitar, horns, bass, piano and Van Zant’s vocals kick this song into high gear, and if you don’t feel like moving when this song comes on, I’m pretty sure your musical tastes are much different than mine.
Overall, a very impressive follow-up performance, and with these two albums in play, the foundation was clearly laid for Lynyrd Skynyrd to reign supreme then, and now, as the kings of southern rock.