The US South is filled with proud, uncomplicated, honest and hard workin’ people with strong ethics. At least that’s the picture you get listening to most Southern Rock songs. Here we present some great bands from this genre.
Lynyrd Skynyrd is from Jacksonville, Florida. Their eponomous debut (1973) is a classic album. It stands at the beginning of the popularity of a new subgenre: Southern Rock. Lynyrd is best known for signature songs like Sweet Home Alabama and Freebird. But the lyrics of Simple Man, that’s on the debut album, sum up the Southern man pretty clearly, or at least describes how the Southern man should ideally be. The lyrics can be found here.
Texas Point Blank isn’t a very widely known band. In the second half of the 1970’s they made two semi-classic albums, Point Blank (1976) and its successor Second Season (1977). The albums are packed with heavy Southern Rock with a lot of attitude (including the occasional balad, like the wonderful Distance on the debut). Although they shared management with ZZ Top, the albums didn’t sell too much. On the third album they changed their style to AOR and had some chart succes with the song Nicole (1981). In 2005 they regrouped and issued the remarkably good live comeback album Reloaded. Sadly guitarist Rusty Burns (61) died in 2016. The debut album:
Blackfoot, also from Jacksonville, Florida, has some Native Americans in their ranks, which is not too common in Hard Rock (another example is Indigenous, an interesting Blues Rock band with a very impressive debut album). Their 3rd album, Strikes (1979), is their commercial and probably also their artistic peak, with two moderate hit successes: Train, Train (that appeared in the motion picture film Straw Dogs) and Highway Song, the latter being a song with epic proportions, that also appeared on their 1982 live album (below). After being disbanded the band was ressurected a few times. The latest comeback to date is in 2016, when the band released Southern Native, a pretty good Hard Rock album though it has little to do with the original Blackfoot sound, mostly because it’s an all new band, although original member Ricky Medlocke is involved in the project.
Doc Holliday, from Macon, George, was named after the Western legend. They made three studio albums in the early 1980’s, that are filled with interesting Southern Rock and good, rough vocals by main man Bruce Brookshire. On the 3rd album the sound was enriched with more electronic effects. This proved lethal for the band, though the results were not all that bad. It would’ve been interesting to see in which direction they would’ve evolved, but sadly that wasn’t to be.
Molly Hatchet, again from Jacksonville, Florida, probably is the best loved heavy Southern Band. They had a hit with Flirtin’ With Disaster (1979). Their 5th album, No Guts…No Glory, may well be the album that has the most Southern feel to it. It features a truly brilliant song called Fall Of The Peacemakers. Sadly, the lyrics are still relevant: there don’t seem to be a lot of peace makers around in the world today. Stop the madness!
Van Zant‘s eponomous album (1985) (mhr.nl rating: 99/100) is technically AOR, with some southern influences, like the equally brilliant Billy Satellite debut. The main feature that links it with Southern Rock is of course the fact that this band is composed of brothers Donnie Van Zant and Johnny Van Zant, brothers of the Ronnie Van Zant, former lead singer for Lynyrd Skynyrd. Both were also active in .38 Special and Lynyrd Skynyrd respectively.
38. Special, from… Jacksonville, Florida, also mixes Southern Rock with AOR. They were especially succesful with songs written by the Peterik/Sullivan (of Survivor fame) tandem (Hold On Loosely and Caught Up In You) and Vallence/Adams (Teacher Teacher).