Wednesday, April 25, 2007

271. Lynyrd Skynyrd - Pronounced Leh-Nerd Skin-Nerd (1973)

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. Freebird


Ahhh! Lynyrd Skynyrd, that most natural of spellings. In our age of enlightenment Lynyrd and particularly Free Bird have become recurrent jokes in pop-culture. They do, however, deserve better than that. This album is a pretty nifty collection of tracks, with Free Bird being of course heads and shoulders above everything else.

Free Bird really is one of the best guitar tracks ever cut on vinyl - it is at the same time silly in its sappy lyrics but exhilirating in its guitar playing. The mix creates something of true hillarious beauty, and a track that belongs in everyone's library.

The rest of the album never reaches the heights of Free Bird but it is also a better way to appreciate the quality of Lynyrd as you are not so familiar with the tracks. Tuesday's Gone and I Ain't The One are good examples of this. Lynyrd Skynyrd deserve a better place in history and particularly this short lived line up which ended in an airplane accident deserves to be up there with other sometimes derired bands like CCR in the hall of the gods of Southern Rock. And next time you reach the last song in Guitar Hero II, take a moment to reflect on Lynyrd. So you should really get this from Amazon UK or US.

Track Highlights

1. Free Bird
2. Tuesday's Gone
3. I Ain't The One
4. Mississippi Kid

Final Grade

9/10 (ahhhhh Freeeee Biiiiirdddd!)


From Wikipedia:

In the video game Guitar Hero, during a loading screen, a message appears that states, "They don’t really want you to play ‘Free Bird’. They're just heckling you", an obvious reference to the calling of the song to be played at various concerts.

* The song is featured as the final encore track in Guitar Hero II, though it had the guitar outro abbridged, reducing the song length to 9 minutes and 20 seconds. It is sometimes accompanied by the loading screen message "FINE. They AREN'T just heckling you this time. SIGH." And there is another message that says "AND THIS BIRD YOU CANNOT CHANGE!!!" A third one reads "You're looking for 'Gtr solo i' in Practice Mode" (in the game, the song contains 19 solos, labeled "A" to "S"). A fourth loading screen reads "Man, you must really like Free Bird." Also, there are two messages that supposedly refer to the difficulty of the song: one reads "Hang in there! You can do it! FREE BIRD!", as if encouraging the player, while the other is actually a tip: "Save yourself a whole world of pain. Master Free Bird in Practice Mode before trying your hand in the full version on stage." This is the only song in the main setlist of the game that has its own self-referencing loading messages, that are only shown when playing Career Mode (in other encore songs, an encore-specific loading message appears).
o Upon beating the eighth tier and going to try Free Bird, instead of the usual encore prompt, the game says, "Looks like the time has come. They're chanting for Free Bird. You knew it would happen one day. You wanna do this?" as a reference to the pop culture cliché. If the player chooses "Yes", the game will continue to ask, "Wait, you want to play Free Bird?" "This move can only be pulled off by a TRUE hero! You still game?" and finally "Okay, last chance... You really want to play Free Bird?"

It has become a popular culture cliché for the audience of almost any concert to shout "Free Bird" as a request to hear the song, regardless of the performer or style of music. This phenomenon began earlier in the 1970s with The Allman Brothers Band's epic "Whipping Post", but then took off to a much greater extent with "Free Bird". This can be traced back to Skynyrd's first live album, 1976's One More From The Road. Skynyrd did not play the song during the main portion of the concert, or even in the encore performance. Instead they saved it for their second encore. After leaving the stage following the first encore of the concert, the crowd was riled by the apparent omission of Skynyrd's signature song. The crowd then began chanting "Free Bird, Free Bird ...". No one left the auditorium. The band then returned to the stage for a second encore and upon taking the microphone Van Zant asked the crowd, "What song is it that you wanna hear?", which was immediately followed by several more shouts of "Free Bird". This interaction is recorded as an intro to the song on the album, and the band responded with a 14-minute version of the song. More recently, they play the song on the first encore.

In the 1980s, Chicago Radio DJ Kevin Matthews urged his listeners to shout "Free Bird!" at a Florence Henderson concert as a sort of joke towards the musician/actress. Credited with starting the tradition of yelling "Free Bird!", he stated that "It was never meant to be yelled at a cool concert -- it was meant to be yelled at someone really lame. If you're going to yell 'Free Bird,' yell 'Free Bird' at a Jim Nabors concert."

Phish performed it a cappella and Mark Oliver Everett of Eels has played a piano version of the song following a heckler's request, substituting the lengthy guitar solo for a piano version. Cat Power has performed a shortened version of the song, with just a single chorus, lasting only about 1 minute. Mike Doughty refuses to perform the song, and insisted on his live album Smofe and Smang that audiences should request The Weather Girls's "It's Raining Men" instead. Doughty then refuses to play "It's Raining Men," as he claims he does not know how. There's also a "Free Bird" moment on Dave Alvin's live album Out in California. After the last track "Everything's Gonna Be All Right" finishes and fades out, the sound fades up again on applause and an audience member shouts out "Free Bird!" Alvin groans humorously, then after a pause, asks "You really wanna hear it? You think we don't know it? You think we can't play it? Boys, the gauntlet's been thrown down..." The band then eases into a sloppy but energetic abbreviation of the song. After the song crashes to a close, and the band and audience are laughing, a voice from the crowd cries out "Stairway to Heaven!"

Even the avant-garde Blue Man Group gets into the act. After they play riffs from Devo's "Whip It" and other rock songs on their PVC instruments, a planted audience member shouts out "Free Bird." Blue Man's back up band starts to play the song, the Blue Men sway to the rhythm, and one of them whips out a cigarette lighter to wave. Another Blue Man douses him with a fire extinguisher.

A harsh reaction to "Free Bird" came from comedian Bill Hicks during a Chicago gig in 1989. On a bootleg recording of the show, I'm Sorry, Folks, Mr. Hicks at first just sounds irked. "Please stop yelling that," he says. "It's not funny, it's not clever - it's stupid." The comic soon works himself into a rage, but the "Free Birds" keep coming, eliciting the now infamous outburst: "Hitler had the right idea, he was just an underachiever; kill everyone, Adolf, kill them all!" "Free Bird," he finally says wearily, then intones: "And in the beginning there was the Word - 'Free Bird.' And 'Free Bird' would be yelled throughout the centuries. 'Free Bird,' the mantra of the moron."

The conductor of the Charleston (SC) Symphony Orchestra, David Stahl, irritated by outbursts of "Free Bird!" at concerts, had the orchestra learn to perform the song so that they could go directly into it from whatever piece they were performing at the moment.

Free Bird:

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