Pronounced Leh-Nerd Skin-Nerd [Expanded Edition]

by: Lynyrd Skynyrd

Known simply as Pronounced by most enthusiasts, this is the debut long-player for Southern rock gurus Lynyrd Skynyrd. This edition has been expanded to include five demos, three of which are available here for the first time. Likewise, Pronounced would introduce several seminal entries into the Skynyrd catalog: "Gimmie Three Steps" and "Simple Man," as well as their most enduring contribution, the epic rocker "Free Bird." Lynyrd Skynyrd had in fact released several 45s dating as far back as 1968 on the regionally distributed Shade Tree label out of their hometown of Jacksonville, FL. Not only was Pronounced their debut album, it also contained notable contributions credited to Roosevelt Gook, who was in reality Al Kooper. After spotting the band in an Atlanta, GA, bar called Funochio's, Kooper signed them to his MCA Records-distributed vanity label, Sounds of the South. The influence that Kooper had on the band has infinitely more to do with presentation than style, as Lynyrd Skynyrd's own distinct brand of sonic Southern comfort pervades every note of this swamp-rocking release. Even the lilting and melodic arrangements worked up by Kooper for "Tuesday's Gone" and "Mississippi Kid" can't disguise Ronnie Van Zant's edgy lead vocals and the punchy, aggressive fretwork of Gary Rossington, Allen Collins, and former Strawberry Alarm Clock member Ed King. Although normally relegated to bass, King's distinctive lead guitar licks on "Mississippi Kid" prove beyond doubt he was a master blues player as well as a thumping bassist. This expanded edition deserves high marks for the infinite improvement in sound quality -- going so far as to best even the pricey gold-disc version. No longer does the orchestrated synthesizer accompaniment in "Tuesday's Gone" sound harsh and brittle. Likewise, the unmistakable opening guitar riff to "Gimmie Three Steps" now sounds clean and raw with the attack delivered with previously unheard precision. The bonus demos -- recorded with the advance monies given to the band from MCA -- were also produced by Kooper with a more hands-off approach needed to accurately assess the band's strengths and weaknesses. Standout performances include non-album tracks "Down South Jukin'" and "Mr. Banker." The latter was actually released as a B-side on the 45 rpm issue of "Free Bird." Enthusiasts interested in other primitive Lynyrd Skynyrd recordings should check out Skynyrd's First: Complete Muscle Shoals Album as well as Skynyrd Collectybles -- which contains a not-to-be-missed live six-song radio simulcast from WMC-FM on October 30, 1973. ~ Lindsay Planer

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