Whiskey Soaked And Hell Bound (The Godfatherecords G.R.1013)
(79:58) Chattanooga, Tennessee, March 19, 1975: I Ain’t The One, I’m A Country Boy, The Needle And The Spoon, Saturday Night Special, Don’t Ask Me No Questions, Am I Losing?, Made In The Shade, Railroad Song, Call Me The Breeze, Sweet Home Alabama. L’Olympia, Paris, France, November 7, 1975: Double Trouble, I Ain’t The One, Simple Man, Whiskey Rock ‘N’ Roller. Los Angeles, California, November 24, 1975: Sweet Home Alabama, Cheatin’ Woman, Workin’ For MCA
Much has been written about the legend of the Lynyrd Skynyrd band, so much that the group has become of legendary status, unfortunately theirs is a tale of triumph but also much tragedy and loss. Their rise from humble roots in Jacksonville, Florida to the stages of the world then their untimely demise one fateful day in October 1977, they were most certainly the Kings of Southern Rock. Although most would say their predecessors The Allman Brothers Band were top of that heap, apart from their hit Ramblin’ Man, the Allmans sound was drenched in Chicago Blues and Jazz. Skynyrd, on the other hand, was a pure Southern sound, from their lyrics culled from life experiences of the south put to music that was part rock and roll and part honky tonk with a tinge of English styling’s thrown in for good measure. Much of the story skips over the original band’s middle period where after an extremely strong start they would plateau after their second album and while the third record, Nuthin’ Fancy went to #9 on the charts and sold to gold status in the 70’s it failed to achieve what they had hoped. It is the music from this record that forms the basis for this new release from Godfathers, in fact save for On The Hunt we will find live versions of the entire record here.
The bulk of this Cd is taken from a soundboard recording from Chattanooga, TN, like most bands in the 1970’s, Skynyrd would utilize radio as a form to get their “message” to the people and broadcasting a live concert would be an option. The recording is excellent, the balance of instruments and vocals, while not perfect, is great and has a lively atmosphere. It has seen previous releases as Chattanooga Tennessee March 1975 (Roaring Mouse Records MO-PRO-2001), Chattanooga Choo Choo (MSBR-014), and One Of A Kind (Sweet Encore 006). All releases, including this new Godfathers title do not feature the complete show, the opening number, either Workin For MCA or Whiskey Rock ‘N’ Roller and the finals song Free Bird are missing, the recording begins about a minute into I Ain’t The One, afterwards Ronnie greets the audience and tells them they will play a lot of music off the new album. I’m A Country Boy is in direct defiance of big cities and glorifies hard work and good living.
The Needle And The Spoon gets a nice ovation, Billy Powell plays some tasty licks as his piano has a nice spot in the mix. While the Nuthin’ Fancy record was a mere days from being released, Saturday Night Special is superb, it sounds as if they had been playing it for years. The band has to tune up from Am I Losing? which is a melancholy trip through the past and wonderfully illustrates Ronnie’s song writing abilities and what made him unique. There is a tape cut after the song, Ronnie tells the audience they have to change a guitar and they bring out acoustics for Made In The Shade, the twang of Rossington’s slide playing coupled with Billy’s piano make for a song that could be found in any Deep South hoedown and is a joy to listen to. Railroad Song features some great drumming from Artimus Pyle, there is also a great version of this song on the Nuthin’ Fancy reissue taken from Winterland a mere month after this concert. Ronnie introduces Call Me The Breeze as something by JJ Cale and the recording ends with Sweet Home Alabama fading out at the 2:27 mark.
The next recording from Paris, France is a radio broadcast, like the Chattanooga recording it has excellent sound quality. The Paris concert is just three days after one of the more famous live recordings of the band for the KBFH in Cardiff, Wales and finds the band in great shade. The recording starts with a DJ introducing the opening salvo of Double Trouble and I Ain’t The One, the latter finding the band in a nice deep groove. This also found the band in a bit of a transition as guitarist Ed King had left the band mid tour and the group had not only had a hole in their live sound to fill but King was also a proficient writer. The DJ is back and talks over the last few seconds of I Ain’t The One and we are treated to a rare live version of Simple Man. Thankfully the DJ is keeping his comments between songs and the recording finishes with Whiskey Rock ‘N’ Roller.
The last fragment features another radio broadcast, this time while the quality is very good this sounds like it was recorded off the air as you can hear some radio static, for me this actually adds to the enjoyment and sounds like the old tapes I used to do off the air. The music is nice and strong and does have the best balance of instruments and vocals. The recording sounds like it was done for a small audience in a studio and features the band on an off date as they were opening for The Who, the recording has also been found on Chattanooga Choo Choo (MSBR-014). The recording also features drummer Bob Burns and begins with Sweet Home Alabama but the main focus on this set is an early version of Cheatin’ Woman that is not too far off the official one that would be released on Nuthin’ Fancy. A blistering Workin’ For MCA is the last song on the CD and is a fitting final song.
The packaging is the tri gatefold sleeve that features live and posed shots of the group superimposed over the Confederate Flag in true Southern Fashion. The liner notes are well written and sum up the band and what they had to persevere in the musical climate of the early to mid 70’s. Another well thought out and comprehensive package from The Don, 80 minutes of great music and excellent quality make this a must have for collectors.
Finally got this, so here are my comments, for possible interest.
The Chattanooga set is the same SQ as on ‘Chatanooga ChooChoo’ (Mainstream MSBR-014), with the same somewhat-muddy bass tones, and I consider Whiskey Soaked to be a straight copy, albeit with the correct spelling of the town.
The final 3 tracks, erroneously stated to come from Los Angeles, November 24 1973, are a match to the WCM-FM broadcast tracks found in *perfect* SQ on the official – and essential – ‘Collectybles’ 2CD 2000 release. On the official release we get 6 tracks, which sounds like the full set (I Ain’t The One/ Call Me The Breeze/ Sweet Home Alabama/ Woman Of Mine/ Workin’ For MCA/ Freebird). It’s one of those recorded-in-front-of-a-small-invited-audience intimate radio broadcasts. The recording was made at Ardent Studios, Memphis, TN, on October 30 1973. The excellent ‘Woman Of Mine’ (a different song to ‘Cheatin’ Woman’) was otherwise unreleased. Anyway, as a result, the 3 tracks included on ‘Whiskey Soaked…’ are redundant.
This leaves my interest being in the 17 minutes of Paris tracks. Despite the DJ talking over the end and the start of some tracks these are very enjoyable, and I consider this purchase was worthwhile on their basis alone. If you don’t have any other source for the Chattanooga tracks, this title is worth the getting even more. If you have somehow missed ‘Collectybles’, go and get it. Now! Go on!
As for the labels, there is an excellent audience from Boston 1976 out there (we can hazard a guess at the taper, I’m sure), deserving of a silver release.
Picked this up the other day and agree with the review that this is a very nice release by the Don. I’ve never been a fan of the new Skynyrd and much prefer the various incarnations of the band up to the tragic deaths in October ’77. I saw the band play at London’s Rainbow Theatre in February ’77 just six months prior to the infamous plane crash and the show has remained a lasting memory for me. This release features some less well known live numbers as well as a sprinkling of some staples. The sound quality of the Tennessee has a bit of hiss but otherwise is excellent. The Paris tunes are almost perfect and like relayer67 suggests, the California section could well be from a rehearsal and are the weakest in quality but still very good. For any fan of Skynyrd with Ronnie et al, this is an essential piece of history and a great recent release from one of the best boot lables.