Last week I was offered a promo copy of Lynyrd Skynyrd's upcoming album Last of a Dyin' Breed to listen to and possibly review here at MoonRunners. I haven't yet heard it, but when I do and if I feel it is up to the standards of what we usually cover around here, you can bet that you will be hearing about it.
But a look at the band's lineup for the album got me to thinking about various opinions I've heard over the years about post-plane crash lineups of Skynyrd. On this album, there is only one original member (Gary Rossington) and a widespread criticism of the band has been that they should call it quits now that so many of the members are now gone.
I call bullshit.
While it's true that the music the band has made since their first album with Johnny Van Zant in 1987 hasn't been the iconic music of the original band, they still make very good albums that I have bought on occasion and they are still a great Southern rock band that currently includes not just Rossington, but Van Zant (who made some great solo albums prior to Skynyrd's resurrection), Rickey Medlocke (the founder and vocalist of Blackfoot), and Johnny Colt of Black Crowes fame. Not exactly a band of amateurs by any stretch.
Some will say that Van Zant is simply cashing in on his brother's legacy.
Once again, I call bullshit.
Take a look at what Johnny Van Zant has done without Skynyrd. In 1990, he had a #1 hit on the mainstream rock chart ("Brickyard Road") and, with his brother Donnie, has had two top ten albums and a top ten single in country music. None of his work with Skynyrd has been quite that commercially successful.
Rossington also had one top ten album and several charting singles as a member of the Rossington-Collins Band.
These guys weren't exactly lost sheep without Ronnie Van Zant.
What critics of the newer incarnations of Skynyrd don't understand is that it's all about carrying on a legacy and making sure that the Skynyrd name and the Southern rock genre they were one of the founders of doesn't die out.
In some ways, they can be compared to bands like the Oak Ridge Boys, the Blind Boys of Alabama, and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, all of whom have no original members but who carry on vital American musical traditions that left the mainstream decades ago.
So in summation, I will defend the current lineup of Skynyrd all the way. Sure, they'll never make a classic like Second Helping or Street Survivors, but those albums are still in print and as long as the band is making good music, there are still fans being turned on to those albums and those of other great Southern rock bands, both classic and current.