Fronted by brothers Donnie and Johnny Van Zant, these two vocalists have had notable careers in Southern Rock in their own right. Both younger sibblings of Ronnie Van Zant, the original lead vocalist of Lynyrd Skynyrd, Donnie fronted .38 Special while Johnny had led his own eponymous band. Joining up in mid 80s, just prior to Johnny fronting a reformed Skynyrd, Van Zant have run parallel to the two brothers’ careers and eventually moved from a Southern to a Country direction (apparently to honour Ronnie who had wanted to make a country album).
This live album, recorded in 2006, is the only officially known live recording of the band and covers their career nicely.
Given that Lynyrd Skynyrd were (at least until their final album Street Survivors) at the Americana end of Southern rock, and have been solid AOR since their reformation, Van Zant sit nicely between Southern Rock and Country, with a commercial AOR leaning.
There’s a real groove to opener ‘Takin’ Up Space’, the two brothers exchange lines with aplomb, and there’s a solid country riff. ‘Ain’t Nobody’ and ‘Sweet Mama’ follow nicely, the latter some outstanding guitar work. Wild Eyed Southern Boys, stonking piano mixing with the guitar, has a great 70s sound with a guitar solo that really rocks. ‘Things I Miss The Most’ is heartfelt number with rich keyboards adding to the commercial country rock feel. ‘Plain Jane’ then picks things up, a heavier number with plenty of female backing vocals that adds that Skynyrd touch.
Without going through every track, there’s a great rock groove throughout, that mixes hard rock, Southern, Country and AOR. There’s plenty a decent riff and it’s really rocking. A rousing set that closes with storming renditions of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s ‘Call Me The Breeze’ and ‘Sweet Home Alabama’. Cool. 8/10