Red, White and Blue: Live features tracks from Van Zant and both their careers in Lynyrd Skynyrd and .38 Special – as well as a No. 8 country hit from Van Zant titled “Help Somebody”. The album was recorded in January 2006 in Georgia and the title song can also be found on Lynyrd Skynyrd’s 2003 album Vicious Cycle.
Donnie said in a press-release prior to the album coming out that the plan was to enjoy themselves and have fun and this live album captures an obviously great night with some great interplay between themselves and the audience. Johnny and Donnie have recorded five studio albums together as Van Zant, beginning in 1985. Their 2005 album Get Right with the Man, which features “Help Somebody”, finished just outside the USA Billboard Top 20. That album saw Van Zant look more toward country music, something their brother (the late great Ronnie Van Zant, original Lynyrd Skynyrd frontman) had wanted to do. Red White and Blue: Live was recorded by Donnie’s long-time .38 Special bandmate Larry Junstrom, but never saw a release until this year.
As the crowd roars the band kick it into gear with “Takin’ Up Space” from the Van Zant album Get Right with the Man which makes up most of the set list, given it had come out not long before this show. Up next they introduce a new one from the album (well, it would have been then), the fantastic “Ain’t Nobody Gonna Tell Me What To Do”. Fantastic harmonies, great steel guitar on this one – a bit of a nod to country.
The boys are in good form with the crowd as we get introduced to their “Sweet Mama”, a foot stompin’, head nodding track which will have had the crowd dancing I have no doubt. I love the guitar on this track. We head into Donnie’s territory with .38 Special’s “Wild Eyed Southern Boys” from the 1980 album of the same name and you can hear the difference right away. I love .38 Special even though they were a bit more mainstream sounding than the likes of Skynyrd or Van Zant – a very underrated band over on these shores.
We head into “Things I Miss the Most” with it’s almost religious-via-country sounds: steel guitar aplenty and fantastic harmonies… just tremendous vocals. The boys feel the need to pick it up next with the rocking “I Know my History” as we head into more Skynyrd style territory.
Their country infused hit is up next in the form of “Help Somebody”, a lot of Southern rock strays into country style now and then and the “new” album at the time had a big nod in that direction. You gotta love that Southern voice as Johnny dedicates “Plain Jane” to all the said girls in the audience with a chuckle, a real smooth rocker of a track. The boys confess to being true believers as they introduce a real slower slice of religious/country infused rock in “I Can’t Help Myself”. We get a bit more Southern rock pace next in the fantastic “I’m Doin’ Alright”, a stomper that has me going alright – a highlight off the album.
A bit of flag waving next in Skynyrd’s “Red, White & Blue”, a big nod to the Armed Forces as they introduce this one and rightly so, a song that will hit the American audience where it matters. Next up a nice paced rocker in the form of “My Kind of Country” from the Van Zant album of the same name, before we head into possibly my favourite Skynyrd track “Call Me the Breeze” and proceed to rock the ass off it with myself bouncing up and down as I write this – are these boys enjoying themselves or what! “Tremendous” just does not do it justice.
How about one more they say and what else but a wee bit of “Sweet Home Alabama” with the boys swapping vocals to great effect. I have to say it is one of the best versions I have heard of the track, slightly different arrangement as you would expect and I like it!
- Takin’ Up Space
- Ain’t Nobody Gonna Tell Me What To Do
- Sweet Mama
- Wild Eyed Southern Boys
- Things I Miss the Most
- I Know My History
- Help Somebody
- Plain Jane
- I Can’t Help Myself
- I’m Doin’ Alright
- Red White & Blue
- My Kind of Country
- Call Me the Breeze
- Sweet Home Alabama