Tokyo Crossroads (Tarantura TCDLS – 3)
Sun Plaza Hall, Nakano, Tokyo, Japan – January 21, 1977
Disc 1: (45:22) Opening, Start, Workin’ For MCA, I Ain’t The One, Saturday Night Special, Whiskey Rock-A-Roller, That Smell, Ain’t No Good Life, Gimme Three Steps, Call Me The Breeze
Disc 2: (35:52) T For Texas, Sweet Home Alabama, Crossroads, Freebird
After a couple of warm up dates in California and a stop in Hawaii, Lynyrd Skynyrd headed to Japan for a five date two city tour. They played January 14-16th in Tokyo, January 18th at the Festival Hall in Osaka and then back to Tokyo for the final show on January 21st. This would sadly be the original band’s only visit to Japan due to the plane crash later in the year that would claim the lives of band members Ronnie Van Zant, Steve Gaines, Cassie Gaines, and assistant road manager Dean Kilpatrick.
Tokyo Crossroads from Tarantura features a brand new audience source for Lynyrd Skynyrd’s January 21, 1977 performance. An older source has been released on silver disc before as One More From The Last Night, a single CD on the Private Masters label. Tarantura comes from a previously uncirculated Mr. Peach tape and is another very enjoyable recording from his never ending cache of tapes. It is a nice loud recording with a decent balance between the instruments and has a really great live atmosphere to it.
JoJo Billingsly, Cassie Gaines, and Leslie Hawkins, AKA “The Honkettes”, were a regular part of the touring band in addition to official members Ronnie Van Zant on vocals, Gary Rossington, Allen Collins, and Steve Gaines on guitars, Billy Powell on keyboards, and Leon Wilkeson and Artimus Pyle on bass and drums respectively.
The show opens with a pre-recorded tape of “The Magnificent Seven” before rolling through a couple of early staples with “Working For MCA” and “I Ain’t The One”. Gary Rossington and Allen Collins helped define their unique southern rock sound with their guitar styles and with the addition of Steve Gaines, who was brought in about seven months earlier to fill the void left by Ed King, the three guitar ensemble was once again complete.
“Saturday Night Special” brings out the heavier side of the band. This adds a nice contrast in comparison with songs like the feel good “Whiskey Rock-A-Roller”, both from the Nuthin’ Fancy LP.
The still unreleased “That Smell” is performed very close to its final studio version with only a couple of the solos being different. This is really an outstanding track with a more complex arrangement than we are used to hearing from Skynyrd. This was perhaps a peek at where their writing was headed. Up next, Steve Gaines takes over on lead vocal for “Ain’t No Good Life” listed as “I Don’t Need Love” on the back cover. Gaines delivers a strong bluesy vocal on the self-penned track that would also be included on the forthcoming Street Survivors. It was obvious when the record came out what a big influence he had on the sound of the band.
Skynyrd revisits the first LP for “Gimme Three Steps”. This runs non-stop with the J.J. Cale original, “Call Me The Breeze”, no doubt the best of any song ever covered by the band. Rossington rips out an amazing solo identical to its studio counterpart followed by some pretty intense piano from Billy Powell. “T For Texas” was written by Jimmie Rodgers also known as “Blue Yodel No. 1”. This was a common addition to their live show around this time played in an arrangement very similar to the Allman Brothers’ version of “One Way Out”. The main set closes on a high note with “Sweet Home Alabama”.
For the first encore, the boys pay homage to Robert Johnson as well as Cream with a cover of “Crossroads” played almost identical to Cream’s live version from Wheels Of Fire. No Skynyrd show is complete without the southern rock anthem “Freebird”. The thirteen minute track acts as the perfect climax to an already great performance.
This is only the second Lynyrd Skynyrd title from Tarantura but by the looks of the catalog number (TCDLS-3) there should be another one out at some point. It comes packaged in a gatefold glossy cardboard case with really nice looking picture discs and opens up to some era photos including a photo of Mr. Peach’s master tapes. Tokyo Crossroads is highly recommended to Skynyrd fans, southern rock enthusiasts, and anyone who enjoys a good Mr. Peach recording.