Lynyrd Skynyrd – Last of a Dyin’ Breed (2012)

With what has to be the unluckiest band of all time (plane crash, car crash paralysis, found dead in a hotel room, two deaths from cancer, death from heart attack) comes a new album Last of a Dyin’ Breed. The current incarnation of the band are a strong collection of musicians who although now with only one “pre-crash” member absolutely deserve to use the name of a band whose musical output has provided the world with some true classics.

The follow-up to 2009’s God & Guns starts with title track ‘Last of a Dyin’ Breed’ and introduces the listener to a top-notch production and deep, enveloping quality which does not let up throughout. Slide guitar, and fast frenetic bass / drum combo allow the song to charge through its 4 minutes and by the end you are faced with how strong this album could well be.

As ‘One Day at a Time’ and ‘Homegrown’ fly by it is clear just how good Last of a Dyin’ Breed is. Everything you’ve ever loved about Skynyrd is here, from a funky groove, to the southern guitar and harmony vocal on choruses.

Fourth track ‘Ready to Fly’ is a classic ballad-esque Skynyrd track which evokes emotion with its lyric and soaring refrain. I would definitely enjoy hearing this one live, it seems such a perfect fit to slower tracks from the band’s past. It is exactly the same with ‘Something to Live For’ which is reminiscent (not a facsimile) of the ‘Tuesday’s Gone’ sound which helped make the band so famous. In danger or repeating myself; everything you’ve loved about Skynyrd is on this album.

Granted, there are one or two tracks – such as ‘Good Teacher’ – which are simply OK. They’re not bad, and the musicianship is there but perhaps lyrically repetitive and simple for my liking. They don’t detract overall from the album and this is as strong a release as any new ‘classic rock’ band are producing.

Perhaps its a result of years of touring and playing the original classics, or maybe it’s having Ronnie Van Zant’s brother as the singer and songwriter, or perhaps with Gary Rossington still on board and a slow replacement of musicians as original members leave, or simply testament to the power and grasp of what the original band believed that an album this good can be produced in 2012. What we have is an album which sounds like such a natural continuation of all the went before. A superb album.

Gareth Fraser
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