Lynyrd Skynyrd: "Second Helping"
Secondhand Vinyl Album
Original Release Date: 1974 MCA
My Rating: (5 Stars)
Sweet Home Alabama
I Need You
Don’t Ask Me No Questions
Workin’ For MCA
The Ballad Of Curtis Loew
The Needle And The Spoon
Call Me The Breeze
I’d like to begin this review by stating, “When the least compelling song on an album is, “Sweet Home Alabama,” a listener can be sure they’re in for one hell of a ride.” While I’ve always considered myself a fan of the band, Lynyrd Skynyrd, I’m ashamed to admit my exposure to their music never ventured past the typical, “Greatest Hits,” collections. Recently, I stumbled across the album, “Second Helping,” at a local record store. I was immediately attracted to the colorful illustration on its cover, as well as the individual band member photos featured on the back. Despite what one might think of their music, it can’t be denied that these dudes look like they were a whole lot of fun to hang out with. It’s here that I’d like to interject that the song, “Sweet Home Alabama,” and the album art accompanying it have little to do with why a person should immediately seek out this record. To put it simply, my reasoning for finally purchasing, “Second Helping,” was embarrassingly, “wack.” However, thank God I followed it.
Now don’t get me wrong, “Sweet Home Alabama,” is a darn fine tune. It even inspires this admittedly die-hard Yankee to sing along to lyrics that dis on her beloved musician, Neil Young. Keeping this in mind, it’s this blogger's opinion that, “Second Helping,” provides much better examples of this band's unbelievable talent. While it may not be the most memorable song on the album I believe, “Don’t Ask Me No Questions,” gives the best depiction of Lynyrd Skynyrd's overall persona. Despite the fact that this song seems to be addressing the trials and tribulations that accompany fame, this listener can’t help but attach her own meaning to the chorus line, “So, don’t ask me no questions, And I won’t tell you no lies.” To explain, whenever I hear a Lynyrd Skynyrd song, I immediately feel like an outlaw. Regardless of this song’s true intended meaning, I can’t help but label these musicians masters at portraying a seamy underbelly vibe through likable, even lighthearted, songs. I credit this mostly to the unbelievably talented lyrics written by lead vocalist, Ronnie Van Zant, whose rollicking swagger rivaled even the most impressive guitar solos on this album…and there’s more than a few.
In fact, one of these spectacular solos can be found during the song, “The Needle And The Spoon.” Here, is yet another example of this band’s uncanny ability to transform the, “dark,” side of life into a damn fun rock song. By the end of this track, Ronnie is preaching, “Lord, they’re gonna bury your boy! Don’t mess with the needle, Now, I know!” to his audience over a chorus of Godly guitar gobbledygook that could drown out almost any vocalist. However, Lynyrd Skynyrd’s insane instrumentals still don’t have enough gas to outrun the guttural chanting of this twenty-something singer.
Keeping with the outlaw theme, the song, “Call Me The Breeze,” is another tune that can’t help but inspire the imagery of freewheeling, rambling man, drifters who maraud around the country side breaking laws and hearts everywhere they go. Basically, think of it this way, “Call Me The Breeze,” is a song that warns women everywhere of the heartache that is bound to happen to them if invited on the band’s tour bus after the show. Think lots of dust and screeching tire tracks immediately after you emerge, hair disheveled, from their vehicle.
Of course, a true lady would never think of doing something so inappropriate were it not for songs like, “Workin’ For MCA.” Yes, it’s true rock and roll anthems like this that get a girl all excited to hang out with these popular mavericks, for a night…or twenty minutes. I can honestly say that a song like this could make even the most conservative, northern 36 year old slingshot her cable knit turtleneck onto the stage just to get the attention of these self-proclaimed rock stars. It goes without saying that, “Workin’ For MCA,” is the song that makes a woman say, “Screw it, I’m getting on that bus after the show.”
Lastly, this listener’s favorite song on the album, “Second Helping,” is without a doubt, “I Need You.” Here, raw emotion is conveyed by simple lyrics that have Van Zant confessing, “Oh baby, I love you, What more can I say?” My answer is, “Absolutely nothing, Oh baby, you got me!” It truly is a mystery how Lynyrd Skynyrd continues to rock so hard on a song that possesses such a slow tempo. However, it’s also a mystery to me how despite the warning these rowdy rebels gave me during, “Call Me The Breeze,” this woman still falls in love with these talented bad boys every time.
"Workin' For MCA": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CTtaflRXBCg