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Street Survivors (Deluxe Edition)

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Album Review

Sometimes, expanded Deluxe Editions don't seem to have much of a purpose outside of marketing: the second disc will contain a clearinghouse of B-sides and remixes or a live show, not adding much to the story of the original album. That's not the case with the Deluxe Edition of Lynyrd Skynyrd's final album, Street Survivors — it's a Deluxe Edition that fills out the final chapter of the original band's career by presenting the complete original version of the album, recorded with legendary producer Tom Dowd at Criteria Studios but scrapped when the group's live sound engineer Kevin Elson argued that these versions sounded lifeless. The album was subsequently rejiggered with a mix of re-recording, additional production, and remixing, plus the addition of a couple of older songs to the record ("One More Time" dates from 1971 sessions at Muscle Shoals, while "I Know a Little" is a song guitarist Steve Gaines had before he joined Skynyrd in 1976), all of which helped turn the album into arguably the band's best. The instincts of Elson — who was supported by Gaines, as revealed in the excellent liner notes by Ron O'Brien on this set — turn out to be correct, as the Criteria version of Street Survivors is a bit tight and stiff, sounding more like a typical professional arena rock production from 1977 than the finished set, which makes it interesting from an archeological perspective at the very least. Skynyrd do sound well-honed, hitting all the notes precisely, but they lack the full-blown, red-blooded roar that made the original so invigorating. All of this explains why the album was tweaked considerably before its release, and a Deluxe Edition like this serves the historical record well by preserving this — even if it merely confirms conventional wisdom, it's good to hear it first-hand, plus there is only a limited amount of music recorded by the original band, so it's hard not to value whatever was left behind. And this lineup of Skynyrd was certainly a great band, something that is apparent even on these slightly stilted originals, especially because they're not all slightly stilted: there's an extended guitar workout on the original version of "That Smell," a cheerful blues shuffle called "Georgia Peaches" that didn't make the final cut (it did appear on the previous expanded 2001 reissue), and "Jacksonville Kid," Ronnie Van Zant's brilliant rewrite of Merle Haggard's "Honky Tonk Night Time Man" that is the last song he wrote. There is another set of final recordings here, too: five cuts from a live California show the band gave in August 1977, two months before the release of Street Survivors and before the plane crash that claimed the lives of Ronnie Van Zant and Steve Gaines. These are the last known recordings of the band, and while the audio is a little rough, the group sounds ferocious. Given the strength of these live cuts, it's once again hard not to wish that the band had not been struck down by tragedy, but this Deluxe Edition honors Lynyrd Skynyrd's legacy by offering every aspect of their last year as a band, from the raw live shows to the overly polished original album to the glorious final version of Street Survivors.

Customer Reviews


As mentioned by a previous reviewer, the live recordings are not very good quality, but they are quite historic. This is the last known live recording of the band, recorded in Fresno, CA., less than two months before the plane crash. Also, notice that the cover is the "flame" cover from the original LP. This cover was pulled after the plane crash. Steve Gaines, who died in the plane crash, is covered in flames in the picture.

Lynyrd Skynyrd Rocked...

But this is not worth your money. Get the original album instead. Back when this was first released, but right after the plane crash, the album was pulled in favor of a sanitized cover without the flames. That created an urban legend about who had flames on their bodies in the cover art. Corporate hype to capitalize on tragedy.

Lynyrd Skynyrd - All Time Greats

Lynyrd is one of the greatest bands of all time, you should check out "That Smell" - i think its the best song on the cd


Formed: 1965 in Jacksonville, FL

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Lynyrd Skynyrd was the definitive Southern rock band, fusing the overdriven power of blues-rock with a rebellious Southern image and a hard rock swagger. Skynyrd never relied on the jazzy improvisations of the Allman Brothers. Instead, they were a hard-living, hard-driving rock & roll band -- they may have jammed endlessly on-stage, but their music remained firmly entrenched in blues, rock, and country. For many, Lynyrd Skynyrd's redneck image tended to obscure the songwriting skills of their leader,...
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