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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Lynyrd Skynyrd - 1976 - Teaching An Okie To Fly
(Studio [email protected])

01 - Working For MCA (Working on the main riff) (1:26)
02 - Sweet Home Alabama(intro) (1:04)
03 - Double Trouble (0:57)
04 - Simple Man (2:08)
05 - Sweet Home Alabama(solo) (2:32)
06 - Working For MCA(solo) (1:26)
07 - The Needle And The Spoon (3:43)
08 - No Money Down (5:43)
09 - Highway (6:34)
10 - The World Is Round (5:41)
11 - Grip Of The Grape (4:02)
12 - Gotta Move (4:52)
13 - Fishcake Breath (3:15)
14 - Come On (4:34)
15 - Listen To Me (7:29)
16 - Poor Brother Bill (5:17)
17 - Foot Prints In The Snow (5:30)
18 - Long Tall Sally (3:41)
19 - Hee Bee Gee Bees (2:05)
20 - She's Got It (1:59)



Lynyrd Skynyrd: Teaching an Oakie to Fly

At the Crossroads
It is early 1976 and Lynyrd Skynyrd are at the crossroads. At the crossroads musically, at the crossroads personnel wise, at the crossroads chart wise.

With the departure of Ed King, during their 1975 Torture Tour, Skynyrd are forced to return to their earlier six piece, two guitar format. Ed King's guitar parts must be shared between the two remaining guitarists, Alen Collins and Gary Rossington and new arrangements worked out. The tour is completed and Skynyrd continue as a six piece outfit.

Producer Tom Dowd enters the picture as All Kooper exits and the fourth Skynyrd album, Gimme Back My Bullets, is recorded in late 1975. This album, also recorded with the six piece format, fails to make the grade the previous three 12 inche platters had set. The chart success which had engulfed the band in 1974, seemed as elusive in late 1975 and early 1976 as it had been five years previous.

While Ronnine was singing "...gimme back my bullets...", A&R men and sales directors at MCA were praying even harder for another Lynyrd Skynyrd Top 40 Bullet, another "Sweet Home Alabama". But for Skynyrd the 3 minute pop song was something of an anathema & something other bands did.

Following the release of Bullets, it was obvious to all concerned that the lack of musical spark in the recordings, not to mention the occasional back stage fighting and lack lustre performances, showed how important the previous instrumental electricity of the three pronged guitar attack had been in animating Ronnie's songs.

The decision to record a live album as the 5th Skynyrd release, also presented the band with another problem. They knew that Skynyrd needed a 3rd guitarist for the planned live recordings and started auditioning everybody from Leslie West (of Mountan fame), to Mick Jones, to the brother of one of the backup singers. And low and behold, Steve Gaines was that brother.

Steve Gaines had been fronting his own band for a number of years and althought, as he stated in 1977, he was "really digging the old band" but we "...weren't doing anything and it was just a pain in the butt and nothing was going & things were always maybe..."

So when he stepped up on stage with Skynyrd for the fist time in Kanasas City, he immediately impressed Gary and Allen, then with the jam on T For Texas being the clincher. A number of further guest spots on stage cemented the bands desire for Steve to join the fold.

Later Steve would recall "I didn't expect anyting like that, I was hoping, maybe, to jam during the sound check. When they asked me to play during the show, I was shocked".

But the offer to joing the band did not come until two weeks later when Ronnie called him and invited him down to Myrtle Beach and welcomed him aboard.

Steve Gaines not only filled the third guitarist position when he joined the band, he rejuvenated Lynyrd Skynyrd as a musical unit. His bluesier approach to guitar pickin', his ability to play both country and western, hard rock and solo with the best of them, gave the band a jump start they had been waiting for ever since Ed King departed. His ability to write and sing would late become an essential ingredient in the melting pot that was Lynyrd Skynyrd circa 1976/1977.

And it was into the breach that Steve jumped, just as Skynyrd were planning to record their live album, One More From the Road, at the Fabulous Fox Theatre in Atlanta.

The success of One More From the Road, not to mention the Fabulous Fox Theatre gigs themselves, was just the start of a new chapter for Skynyrd.

The jewel in the crown of the rebirth of Skynyrd was their appearance at the 1976 Knebworth Festival, held in England during the August holiday long weekend and headlined by the Rolling Stones. Their appearance at the Knebworth meant that they had finally achieved something lating in terms of a European audince, which had given Skynyrd the cold shoulder during previous tours of Europe.

Forteen months later the dream would be shattered in the backwoods of Mississippi.

The Gigs

Disc one of this two CD set is a single CD alternate mix/edit/EQ from the 1976 UK Knebworth Festival, which was used as the basis for the 1995 Video/film/CD release Freebird - The Movie. However unlike the movie or sound track CD, this un-released alternate master contains three additional performances from the Knebworth concert not used for the Freebird - The Movie release.

Due to apparent technical difficulties & recording gremlins, the Knebworth performances of What's Your Name, That Smell & Freebird were not used in the final product, with versions from 1977 being used in their place. Here for the first time are those 1976 performances.

It should also be of note that the sound quaility of this alternate mix/EQ is superior to that used in the official release. Why this should be is open for speculation but maybe they grabbed the wrong box, when fial mastering occurred.

Stranger things have occured.

The August 21st 1976 Knebworth Festival performance of Lynyrd Skynyrd is really the point where the new Skynyrd with Steve Gaines should be judged from. Certainly the gigs and subsequent LP from the Fox Theatre shows, One More From the Road, have set in stone the legend of Lynyrd Skynyrd as being a Tour de Fore Rock and Roll band, with definitely more emphasis on the Rock, than the Roll. But in reality, when the Fox Theartre shows were recorded Steve Gaines was only just getting started with Skynyrd.

However by the time Skynyrd played at Knebworth, they were firing on all 8 (or should that be 12) cylinders. Everybody knew their parts, everybody know their chops, plus Steve had brought a new vitality to the band and its on stage performances. Their attitude, their attack and their pure pickin' are superior in every way they could be.

Fourteen months after this concert, the and as it was recorded here at Knebworth would be no more.

Disc two of this two CD set starts off with the rehearsals which were necessary to get Steve Gaines ready for the shows at the Fabulous Fox Theatre in July 1976. The actual date of the rehearsals is uncertain, but given comments made over the past number of years by the surviving members of Skynyrd and by Tom Dowd, these rehearsals obviously occured in late June or early July, with the latter date being the more likely.

The rehearsals start off with the rhythm riff from Working for MCA and discussion concerning this track can be heard at the start of the track.

This is then followed by the introduction riff for Sweet Home Alabama and an early attempt to develop a segue from the traditional ending, which will allow Steve to have his own solo section...although this is not developed to any great extent.

Double Trouble then kicks in, with both the verse and chorus sections being played. It is worth noting that no versions of Double Trouble, from the Fox Theatre shows have seen the light of day, so one can only assume that either the track was not played or the performances were way below par. A small amout of discussion can be heard as Double Trouble ends.

The familiar strains of Simple Man then follow. This is a song which was played at the Fox Theatre shows, but which only in the past 10 years have any evidence of the performances been officially released. [on the 2CD version of One More From the Road and the 3CD box set]. During the quieter moments of this rehearsal, one can just make out someone singing the lyrics to Simple Man and it sounds damn near like Ronnie. A small amount of conversation ends this rehearsal of Simple Man.

A count in and then the end solo section of Sweet Home Alabama starts. Here we hear Steve developing his solo for the end section of Alabama.

Another attemp at Working for MC then follows Alabama. This time it is the solo section, previously played by Ed King, now the domain of Steve Gaines.

The living room rehearsal ends with The Needle and the Spoon.

The remaining tracks on Disc two are from a 1973 gig by Steve Gaines and his band Detroit, recorded at the Driftwood Club Michigan in 1973.

The gig starts off with a bluesy rendition of Chuck Berry's ode to General Motors and his dissatisfaction with Ford product. [but then again, doesn't everybody].

Given the lack of reaction from the audience, it is obvious a small gig/venue.

Like many "gig of our lives" which bands must play to learn their chops and develop their own style, this gig has many styles, some dictated by the audience, ranging from the down and out blues to funk, straight pop and even rock'n'roll Little Richard style.

The highlight of the set must surely be the blues Foot Prints in the Snow, which receive stone cold silence from the audience, a fact which obviously doesn't go by Steve judging from his comments.

819 Posts
Thanks for CD2 and the cool write-up. Will you be posting CD1, Knebworth Festival? Thanks so much in advance for that one.

481 Posts
mind blowing narrative and links!
wish I was old enough to see them in their 1976-77 years!

thanks for this gem!
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