A year after releasing their landmark debut album, Lynyrd Skynyrd followed their success up with another strong release in Second Helping. Their first album contained a group of eight songs structured professionally containing strong lyrical pieces and hooky guitar riffs. Second Helping follows the same great formula and although it's certianly a superb follow up and great album, it may come a little short of matching the success of their first album. They did land a classic hit in "Sweet Home Alabama" which became a rock radio staple and a song you couldn't go without hearing if you lived anywhere near the south. "Don't Ask Me No Questions" shows a close resemblance to "Gimme Three Steps" while "I Need You" is almost the perfect mix between "Tuesday's Gone" and "Simple Man". Also, "Call Me the Breeze", "Workin' for MCA", "The Ballad of Curtis Loew" and "The Needle and the Spoon" continue Skynyrd's excellence in southern rock while "Swamp Music" may be a little, well...swampy....Anyways, got no more time to waste! Let me give you the skinny on all these songs.
Ronnie Van Zant (Vocals)
Gary Rossington (Guitars)
Allen Collins (Guitars, Piano)
Ed King (Guitars)
Leon Wilkeson (Bass)
Billy Powell (Keyboards)
Bob Burns (Drums)
1. Sweet Home Alabama (4:43)
Ahhh...southern pride anyone? Well, Lynyrd Skynyrd's got it and this song is the essential southern anthem, or atleast I think so! But back in the day, there was an artist named Neil Young and he had a little song demoting the southern man, well, that didn't flow well with Skynyrd and well here you have it! "Sweet Home Alabama"...one of my favorite lines is in this song you know the; "Well I heard mister Young sing about her, well, I heard 'ol Neil put her down, well, I hope Neil Young will remember, a southern man don't need him around anyhow". I love it when those lines are sung, easily some of the best lyrics on the album. Now that i've mentioned all of that let me tell you that this song has a great guitar riff and a sweet solo to go along with it. A piano comes into the song towards the end and adds some spice to an already classic song. Well...need I say another word 'bout this treasure? 5/5
2. I Need You (6:55)
On to the next song and like i've already said before, this song is like a perfect mix between "Tuesday's Gone" and "Simple Man". It has a ballad feel to it yet it's deep toned and serious and moves along slowly and lasts for almost seven minutes. The guitars play together perfectly and although this ain't a very catchy tune at first, give it a listen and you'll be wondering why it doesn't get the credit a lot of other Skynyrd songs get. I nominate this song the most underated tune on the album and always makes for a good listen. 5/5
3. Don't Ask Me No Questions (3:26)
An almost little brother to "Gimme Three Steps", it doesn't have the same type of riff but something that you might find similar, especially in the tone of the guitars. It has a catchy little chorus that works well with the rest of the song. The lyrics I believe are about the media bothering the band so much they don't get much time to theirselves. Speaking of lyrics, Van Zant spits them out with a commanding voice and the song ends on a rockin' note. 5/5
4. Workin' for MCA (4:49)
This song seems to be a more straight forward rock and roller and let me tell you it does a great job of rockin', oh yes. I really like the riff and the growl you hear in the intro adds a little attitude to the song. It's easy to figure out what this song is 'bout obviously and probably the best thing about this song is the awesome driving tune it makes for sure. 4/5
5. The Ballad of Curtis Loew (4:51)
I find this song to be quite underated as well, with it's beautiful guitar riff and some serious and heartful words sung perfectly by Ronnie. About a black man and his love for the blues as you can tell, the lyrics describe the character well and the rest of the lyrics are great as well. There is a nice little solo to be found and I find this to be a true Lynyrd Skynyrd classic. 5/5
6. Swamp Music (3:31)
"Swamp Music" is easily the worst song on the album, but hey! It ain't bad or anything, I just know a lot of people don't care for it, I don't mind it but it does get repetitive and really goes nowhere at times. The guitar riff can be annoying and is quite goofy but adds a little variation to the album too. The chorus is kind of weak but I think i've pissed on this song enough, overall...it's an alright song. 3/5
7. The Needle and the Spoon (3:53)
This song gets Skynyrd back on track with its catchy guitar riff and perfectly sung lyrics about what seems to be drugs and what not. There is a break and in comes a well done solo then the song returns back to the good 'ol riff until it reaches the end. I do think this song is a bit underated as well, actually I think this whole album is underated but that's just me. Anyways, a great song to be heard, I think any fan would really like this track. 4/5
8. Call Me the Breeze (5:09)
On the last album, "Free Bird" was the grand finale and it lived up to be a sure classic. "Call Me the Breeze" is no "Free Bird", but don't get me wrong, it's a great track nothingless. With some energetic guitar riffs and excellent leads this song is just another great song to enjoy. There is a great piano solo as well that adds a lot to the song and really, Lynyrd Skynyrd couldn't of ended this album on a better note if you ask me. 5/5
Well, by the release of their second album, I think Lynyrd Skynyrd had put the nail in the coffin as the greatest southern rock band ever and I still think they own that title to this day. Although I wouldn't say Second Helping is as strong as their debut, it's still an excellent album and worht picking up especially if you're into this type of music. Also let me tell you just like most of their albums, Second Helping has been remastered in the past years and includes some extra songs such as the excellent "Was I Right or Wrong", "Take Your Time" and alternate outtake of "Don't Ask Me No Questons". Well there you have it and I ain't got nothin' more to say!
+ "Sweet Home Alabama"
+ Continuined excellence in southern rock
+ Great guitar work
+ Van Zant's singing is top notch again
+ Some really underated tunes to find and enjoy
- A few songs can drag on
- You may not like "Swamp Music"