Lynyrd Skynyrd: Sweet Home Alabama

Live in Germany in 1996 and in 1974, on CD and DVD.

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The main feature in this three-disc set has the southern rock legends playing at the Loreley Festival in June 1996, with Johnny Van Zant singing in place of his late brother Ronnie. The bonus content comprises three tracks recorded at Hamburg’s Musikhalle in December 1974, with Ronnie leading the definitive seven-man line-up that cut the classic Second Helping album.

The Loreley show is amazing for how good this band sounded without so many of the guys that created that sound – something that’s still true of Skynyrd today. Three veterans of the ’74 line-up were still present: guitarist Gary Rossington, bassist Leon Wilkeson and keyboard tinkler Billy Powell. Also on guitar is one-time Skynyrd drummer and ex-Blackfoot mainman Rickey Medlocke.

Most impressive of all is the way Johnny sings those old songs (and they are all old songs) in the same soulful southern style that his big brother had.

The material from ’74 is even better. Three definitive songs – Workin’ For MCA, Free Bird and Sweet Home Alabama – are all laid down with the cool authority of a band at their peak. It’s best enjoyed on the DVD, with pint-sized Ronnie exuding the air of a man not to be fucked with./o:p

Freelance writer for Classic Rock since 2005, Paul Elliott has worked for leading music titles since 1985, including Sounds, Kerrang!, MOJO and Q. He is the author of several books including the first biography of Guns N’ Roses and the autobiography of bodyguard-to-the-stars Danny Francis. He has written liner notes for classic album reissues by artists such as Def Leppard, Thin Lizzy and Kiss, and currently works as content editor for Total Guitar. He lives in Bath - of which David Coverdale recently said: “How very Roman of you!”