This strong debut benefits greatly from the expertise of veteran producer Bruce Botnick as well as the likes of former Steve Miller bassist Lonnie Turner and saxman Tom Scott. Guitarist Jimmy Lyon was to Money what Keith Scott was to Bryan Adams. Money, son of a New York City cop, had a rock & roll epiphany en route to following his dad's career path. The debut album, long on craft but not without inspiration, deservedly shot radio-ready tunes "Two Tickets to Paradise" and "Baby Hold On" up the charts, the latter helped by former Elvin Bishop songmate Jo Baker. The key tune is the spirited "Wanna Be a Rock 'n' Roll Star," which spells out the game plan.
Lynyrd Skynyrd wrote the book on Southern rock with their first album, so it only made sense that they followed it for their second album, aptly titled Second Helping. Sticking with producer Al Kooper (who, after all, discovered them), the group turned out a record that replicated all the strengths of the original, but was a little tighter and a little more professional. It also revealed that the band, under the direction of songwriter Ronnie Van Zant, was developing a truly original voice. Of course, the band had already developed their own musical voice, but it was enhanced considerably by Van Zant's writing, which was at turns plainly poetic, surprisingly clever, and always revealing. Though Second Helping isn't as hard a rock record as Pronounced, it's the songs that make the record. "Sweet Home Alabama" became ubiquitous, yet it's rivaled by such terrific songs as the snide, punkish "Workin' for MCA," the Southern groove of "Don't Ask Me No Questions," the affecting "The Ballad of Curtis Loew," and "The Needle and the Spoon," a drug tale as affecting as their rival Neil Young's "Needle and the Damage Done," but much harder rocking.
Mastered by Kevin Gray at Cohearent Audio, most from the original master tapes or best sources available. The best pre-1965 Beach Boys album featured their brilliant number one single "I Get Around," as well as other standout cuts in the beautifully sad "Wendy," "Little Honda" (one of their best hot rod tunes, covered by the Hondells for a hit), and their remake of the late-'50s doo wop classic "Hushabye." The nostalgic "All Summer Long," another great production, seemed (whether intentionally or not) like a sort of farewell to the frivolous California beach culture that had supplied the lyrical grist for most of their music up to this point, with a longing, regretful chorus that was totally at odds with the bouncy arrangement. Other relatively little-known treasures are the sumptuous ballad "Girls on the Beach," with some of their best early harmonizing, and "Don't Back Down," with uncommonly anxious lyrics. You can't give an unqualified high rating, however, to an album that also contained such disposable filler as the "Our Favorite Recording Sessions" comedy bit and "Do You Remember?," a "let's-pay-tribute-to-rock's-early-days" number with a sh*t-eating grin wide enough to qualify as an oldies radio ID jingle.