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Wild-Eyed Southern Boys

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Album Review

Building on the bandmembers' own personal accomplishments that came from the Rockin' Into the Night album, .38 Special released an even stronger bunch of songs a year later with Wild-Eyed Southern Boys. Focusing on the same Southern-based rock & roll formula, the efforts from Southern Boys contain a little more guitar zing while complementing the band's ability to produce marketable radio music. "Hold on Loosely," with its smooth vocal stride, managed to peak at number 27 in April of 1981, giving .38 Special its first Top 40 single, and the title track, "Honky Tonk Dancer," and "Back Alley Sally" keep a homespun flavor alive and well, indicating that the band's Southern roots haven't been dismissed completely. Even though the bulk of the tracks lean toward .38 Special's rootin'-tootin' good-time persona, tracks such as "Fantasy Girl" and "First Time Around" reveal a stronger regard for producing catchy and approachable rock & roll tunes. It's on Wild-Eyed Southern Boys that .38 Special seemed more confident, harnessing a distinct guitar rock sound that enabled the group to distinguish itself from other FM rock bands. Cracking the Top 20 on the album charts and eventually reaching platinum status, Wild-Eyed Southern Boys marked the onset of the band's success throughout the course of the decade.

Biography

Formed: 1975 in Jacksonville, FL

Genre: Rock

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

Initially, .38 Special were one of many Southern rock bands in the vein of the Allman Brothers and Lynyrd Skynyrd; in fact, the band was led by Donnie Van Zant, the brother of Skynyrd's leader, Ronnie Van Zant. After releasing a couple of albums of straight-ahead Southern boogie, the band revamped its sound to fall halfway between country-fried blues-rock and driving, arena-ready hard rock. The result was a string of hit albums and singles in the early '80s, highlighted by "Caught Up in You," "If...
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