At The Ritz 1988 (Roxvox- 2016)

Gary Rossington - guitar
Ed King - guitar
Billy Powell - keyboards
Leon Wilkeson - bass
Artimus Pyle - drums
Randall Hall - guitar
Johnny Van Zant - lead vocals
Dale Krantz-Rossington - background vocals
Carol Bristow - background vocals

Additional musicians :
Toy Caldwell - guitar
Ronnie Eades - horns
Harvey Thompson – horns

CD1 :
01. Workin' For MCA
02. I Ain't The One
03. Saturday Night Special
04. The Needle And The Spoon
05. That Smell
06. The Ballad Of Curtis Loew
07. Things Goin' On
08. Swamp Music
09. I Know A Little
10. Gimme Three Steps
11. They Call Me The Breeze
12. What's Your Name

CD2 :
01. Comin' Home
02. Simple Man
03. Sweet Home Alabama
04. Band Intros
05. Freebird

There, all the detractors and the foul-mouthed will be able to hawk and to shout out loud and clear : « A Lynyrd Skynyrd live again ? ». Yes, it's true, one more. But this is a show dating September 6th, 1988, in full Tribute Tour and recorded for the radio, with a Lynyrd that we considered for ever silenced. And all the quibblers and the hairs splitters to answer : « Yes but we already had « Southern by the grace of God », coming from the Tribute Tour of 1987 ! ». Perhaps… But there, we are entitled to eight additional tunes : « I Ain't The One », « Saturday Night Special », « The Needle And The Spoon », « The Ballad Of Curtis Loew », «  Things Goin' On », « I Know A Little », « Gimme Three Steps » and a magnificent version of « Simple Man ». And then, above all, which pleasure to hear the magnificent guitar of the immense Ed King ! Ed King, magic on slide guitar on « Curtis Loew » and exchanging incredible guitar licks with Randall Hall on the intro of « I Know A Little ». We also have the pleasure to be able to appreciate the interventions of Toy Caldwell (from the Marshall Tucker Band) and his immediately recognisable six-string on « Gimme Three Steps » and « Call Me The Breeze ». The Muscle Shoals Horns Section honours « What's Your Name » of its presence and we are delighted to listen to a high-level “Comin' Home” with Ed King’s majestic slide. Of course, « Sweet Home Alabama » is preceded by some appropriate arpeggios of Mister Ed and his nostalgic slide reeling off « Dixie ». It also makes a funny effect to hear Johnny Van Zant exhorting the crowd to calm down and not to push, saying that the band will have difficulty in continuing its show « if this shit is goin’ on » or confiding to the public that the combo would never have believed to play at the Ritz of New York in 1988. The emotion reaches its highest point when Artimus Pyle presents the musicians, especially those who survived the crash a decade before. The drummer ends by advising the people not to drive under the influence of alcohol and he adds that every time he did it, he destroyed a car. The concert ends with an instrumental version of "Freebird", Dantesque and orgiastic, with Ed King and Randall Hall who send the original solos but also play high-flying variants.
It is not thus about an extra live of Lynyrd Skynyrd but well and truly about a moving testimony on the impact which had in the time the new set-up of the gang of Jacksonville. Which pleasure to listen to these timeless songs played by a line-up getting as closely as possible to the original Lynyrd. The one that (except Artimus Pyle) we had the chance and the pleasure to see on the stage of the Élysée Montmartre the 13th and 27th of February 1992. Ah, which memories!

Olivier Aubry

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