• Led by brother of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Ronnie Van Zant – Donnie Van Zant – 38 Special were a Florida band in the vein of the Allman brothers and Lynyrd Skynyrd themselves!
• This, their eponymous debut, was first released on A&M back in 1977, their first of many for the label. Flirting with the Billboard charts, this classic Southern Rock album was produced by Dan Hartman. It spawned two singles, ‘Long Time Gone’ and ‘Tell Everybody’. Other highlights included a revamp of Chuck Berry’s favourite, ‘Around And Around’.
“This sextet was produced in New York by Dan Hartman, bassist and songwriter with various Winter-Derringer groups. 38 Special plays a brand of energetic, high-voltage rock you might expect from this pedigree. However, around the edges of the fast rockers and in the nicely harmonized easy ballads of the album there is a surprising and most welcome flair for laidback countryish elements to the riffing.”
“There is a similarity in the Van Zant brothers’ lyrics. Donnie has been strongly influenced by Ronnie’s romantic longing for the myth of the golden age of the South. The concern with transcendence (‘Fly Away’) and traditional values (‘Play a Simple Song’) is contrasted with the reality of a rocker’s world (‘Four Wheels’, ‘Just Wanna Rock & Roll’). But where Ronnie’s dilemma seems to cause him the pain that makes him one of rock’s great angry young men, Donnie’s persona is more innocent and hedonistic. He’ll have to get past that if he wants to be more than a wan reflection of his brother.”
(John Swenson, Rolling Stone, 8/11/77)
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