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God & Guns

by: Lynyrd Skynyrd

Album Artwork

(Roadrunner)
Slated for Release September 29, 2009

I have read so many opinions for so many years regarding the “original” Lynyrd Skynyrd vs. the “current” band, and my opinion has always remained the same. The original band can never be again. That ended in 1977. And from the time the street survivors reunited ten years later until now, it has always been a tribute to the founding father, Ronnie Van Zant. Countless personnel changes and tragic deaths have continued to take away band members until the only remaining original member is Gary Rossington. But does that make them any less of a band? I think not. They continue to fly the Southern flag, loud and proud, and the audiences still flock to their shows, even during the current economic recession. So all of that said, God & Guns has some mighty fine music on it. Not all of it, but most.

“Still Unbroken” is a catchy rocker for sure, although at first it sounds like more of the same Skynyrd we have been getting for twenty years. Still, it does sound mighty fine when played loud. Equally, “Little Thing Called You” is reminiscent of classic Skynyrd with some pretty nasty slide guitar thing happening.

Several of the songs sound like they should be on a Van Zant album (Donnie and Johnny) instead of a Skynyrd album. Songs like “Simple Life,” “Southern Ways,” “Unwrite That Song,” and “That Ain’t My America,” a song that could also feel at home on a Toby Keith record. Not that they are bad songs, they are just more straight up country (that is, country by today’s standards) than what Skynyrd usually delivers.

If there’s one song on the album that I just can’t stand it’s “Skynyrd Nation.” It reminds me of something KISS did called “You Wanted The Best,” kind of a self glorifying anthem. Not my cup of Jack Daniels, if you don’t mind. I didn’t get the liner notes with my review copy, so I have to wonder who’s on metal guitar. I know the guitarist from Marilyn Manson played on the album, for some reason.

I like “Floyd” quite a bit as a story song. It’s very different for sure, and the mere mention of “hell house” in the lyric is enough to perk up the ears of any Skynyrd fan. Oh, and “Comin’ Back for More” is a pretty rocking little song, as is “Storm.” Nothing to write home about, but still good.

The title track, “God & Guns” is a swampy little pro-gun, and I assume, anti-Obama song. I will avoid elaborating on any personal opinion here, but as a song, it rocks nicely from a soft swamp feel into a hard rocking close.

My favorite cut by far is the set closer, “Gifted Hands,” a great tribute to keyboard genius Billy Powell, as well as working folk everywhere and the God who watches over them. The song burns at the end with real “Free Bird” style.

For me, God & Guns will be remembered mostly as the last recordings of Billy Powell, as well as the swan song of bassist Ean Evans. One of the overall best Skynyrd albums in years.

-Michael Buffalo Smith


 

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joeboy62 says...

Hey mclean, I am impressed man. You REALLY know your Skynyrd. You're comment about knowing who was playing what on guitar with the old band - spot on man. That to me was absolutely the coolest thing about them. They all had their own sound. We can agree to disagree about this album. I have read some really good reviews about it (which I agree with) and I have read some really crappy reviews. Public opinion seems to be split 50/50 on this one. Oh, and that was a great comment about how great it would have been had Rickey been in the band since '87. I just don't think he and Ed would have gotten along too well. I saw an interview with Ed not too long ago where he said, "Yeah, I hear Medlocke is a pretty good drummer!" Pretty funny. But I think Rickey brings a great energy to them. Rock on brother!

mclean says...

Hey joeboy62 That was great! Pelosi and Palin as the new backup singers. Wow! Honketts indeed. I agree with much of the post. You make some fine points and I DO feel people who say RVZ would do it like this or that have no idea. I just go back to this. Gary, Rickey and Johnny had six years to write and create. Songs like God and Guns or Raining in My Heartland are the best they could do? Listen to the guitar work on The Last Rebel or lyrics from Vicious Cycle and it's clear these guys needed help. So what do they do? Where did they turn? Hire John 5 and some Nashville writers because they are missing a key member. I don't mind the country side at all, but is Made In The Shade even close to the pop country sounds on this album? I think the best thing for this band was Rickey Medlocke coming back. It's too bad it wasn't during the 87 tour to the present. I believe he and Ed AND Gary would form a unique and dynamic force. As I said Medlocke's energy is the best! You can hear it all over this album. Gary's distorted sounds and amazing solos are evident as well. What's missing? The third member who fills the gaps and blends the music with a clean and perfect picking style. Not to mention helping to re-arrange some god awful lyrics on some selections. Ed did it. Steve did it. HT did it. Skynyrd needs this for the next (I pray) recording. I've listened to this album over and over for the past three to four weeks. I hear no third member of the guitar army doing this. Just some Nashville guy who takes less of a check than the big three. That's what made this band so special. You could actually pick out in the previous records the players based on the sounds of the guitars. Finally, you must realize without Billy this is needed now more that ever. Otherwise this album will be the best they got left and frankly it's not enough to carry on the name or legend.

joeboy62 says...

Hey mclean, none here either. But, my point is, you can find shit on any CD you buy. I have never bought one that I didn't skip over one or two songs...and that includes the original Skynyrd. But frankly (and you didn't do this, by the way), I get tired of everyone saying "RVZ wouldn't have done it this way." And then saying RVZ didn't sing about guns? Um, has he ever listened to Mississippi Kid? "I got my pistols in my pockets, boys, I'm Alabama bound." Or how about Cheatin Woman? "Cheatin Woman, gonna shoot you"? As for the direction of the music, I just think the boys are getting a older. Not every song from the original Skynyrd was a rocker. Plenty of slower, country sounding tunes...I Never Dreamed, Made In the Shade, I could go on and on. One thing I will agree on, however, is God and Guns. Don't care for that one, not because of the lyrical content, though, I just don't care for the music. Same with Floyd. Most of the other songs, I have to say, though, I genuinely like. I also agree with you that it would be great to see Ed back in the band. I still think Medlocke is a good choice. To me, and you know what they say about opinions, it's probably the best they have done since they re-formed. But, hey, wouldn't the world be a big boring place if we all agreed? And you MUST be kidding if you don't think the media in this country leans WAY WAY FAR TO THE LEFT!! My comment about that really has nothing to do with the song....just an observation from someone that sees the liberals RUINING this country. And hey, better Sarah Palin than Nancy Pelosi!

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Joeboy62 Listen man no disrespect. I have been a lifelong Skynyrd fan INCLUDING every new album since 1991. But this album is lacking and has to much political bs to be considered anything but average. Whats next Sarah Palin singing backup vocals with Gary's wife. Some great songs on the album? Yes! Shit on the album? Yes! Ed King or HT is needed back. Since HT is gone (we miss you Hughie, Ed would be the classic fit). The 3 guitarist attack is lacking when one of them is just some average Nashville picker with no input on songs or lyrics. This could have been a great album if a third picker with the ability of ED'S could contribute. And don't give me this left wing media shit. God and Guns as a song just BLOWS!!!!!!!!! Listen to it. My son is four and he could have written better lyrics and music. Go listen to Vicious Cycle then this album. Its not even close. You can see that HT or Ed really grounded the band and gave it the classic sound not to mention improved lyrics.

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Ok, now we've heard from the naysayers. I loved RVZ as much as anyone, BUT, he's been gone for 32 years now. LET IT GO!! One reason you hear the "rightwing bullshit" is because of the fact that the Lefty Loonies have the idiot media in their back pockets for some unknown reason. For the life of me I don't understand it. It's a different country than what it was 32 years ago, and if you don't think RVZ would be right there with Gary, Johnny, and Rickey in their beliefs, you must be smoking something. Now - about the band carrying on with only one original member: Sam Walton is dead....did Walmart fold their tent? Dave Thomas is dead - Is Wendy's still selling burgers? If you don't like or approve of the new band - DON'T LISTEN TO THE RECORD!! TURN IT OFF! I happened to have seen them in St.Augustine last week, and let me tell you, five thousand people saw a helluva show and appreciated the fact that RVZ would be proud that they haven't tucked tail and run. He taught them better than that! Oh, and by the way, I liked the CD AND I realized when I bought it that Ronnie, Allen, Leon, Billy, nor Steve would be playing on it.

damnedoledave says...

In Augusta,GA there upcoming Concert(nov.12th 09)is being billed as "Whats left of Lynyrd Skynyrd". Which kinda says it all. I did a many O gig with the original band in the early 70s, some of which they opened for us untill "Sweet Home" hit the streets, Then we opened for them, Those boys love to get drunk and fight as much as they loved to play music. I truly miss the good times we had when we played the same venues,Anybody remember Funocheos in Atlanta GA. All in All the present LS band is what it is and will never replace the orignal, Leon(wilkenson)and I became good friends during the early years and remained in touch till about a year before he died, In our last phone conversation he seemed very unhappy and said he felt like he was playing in a Lynyrd Skynyrd copy band............Anyway, Thanks to the new guys for keeping there memories alive, Rock till ya drop Boys!! Thanks, David Cantonwine, Eric Quincy Tate Bassist If you get a chance Check out www.ericquincytate.com lots O good music and tons O pics....Thanks Again Hey Mike................

damnedoledave says...

mclean says...

Well I purchased the new Skynyrd 2CD this past week. I am truly a fan of the old AND new Skynyrd. Overall the CD has some bright spots. Still Unbroken, Simple Life, Gifted Hands, Hobo Kinda Man, Bang Bang and Coming Back For More ARE excellent songs. I am a little concerned with the right wing bullshit that dominates much of the cd. Why is everything a political devide in our nation. I dont think a RVZ led Skynyrd would want to cut off fans the way some songs on this album do. I am a strong blue collar working man who identified with material from new Skynyrd from 1991 to the present album. I just believe the boys in the band are writing songs THAT LACK TRUE PASSION. I am a big fan of Rickey and Gary as guitar players but listen to the music AND words from Vicious Cycle, Edge of Forever, Twenty, Last Rebel or Endangered Species and its clear that losing Hughie or Ed was bigger than most people in the current band would let on. This band needs a third picker who can arrange and pull the band back to classic rock. Losing Billy Powell was huge. He will never be replaced. Personally, he was always my favorite member and I loved his sound. However, lacking a third member of the guitar army who can play and has major input will sink Skynyrd Forever. Gary needs to mend fences and bring Ed King back to the band. With Ed's abilities and Gary's History and Rickey's energy the army could soar to heights that the orginal band might not have. Overall, a C for this album. Lets hope a change is made before its too little to late. Thanks.

Mark Kemp says...

Ronnie Van Zant's Lynyrd Skynyrd wrote and sang lyrics like these: "Have you ever lived down in the ghetto? / Have you ever felt the cold wind blow?" The Thing That Calls Itself Lynyrd Skynyrd Today writes lyrics like these: "God & guns keep us strong / It's what our country was founded on / We might as well give up and run / If we let them take our God & guns." Forget that they're knee-jerk right-wing reactionary -- they're just plain stupid. Ronnie Van Zant's Lynyrd Skynyrd was anything but stupid. I agree with you that the original band can never be again, because the original band depended on Ronnie Van Zant. But I don't agree that the current monstrosity shouldn't be judged against the original band, because they dare to call themselves by that name. And they're not Lynyrd Skynyrd. Not by a long shot.

tuckerhead says...

Sorry Buff, this cd sucks. They really should hang it up.

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