Whether it was the glam metal scene in LA or the thrash scene in San Francisco back in the 1980s, of all the bands from those areas who gained world wide popularity, there were many bands who were just as good but never fully broke out of the local scene. The same thing can be said of Southern rock in the earlier part of the decade. I was fortunate to have been stationed in North Carolina during this time, so I was fully able to appreciate it when Southern Rock was at the height of its glory. It gave me a good feeling whenever I trotted back across the Mason-Dixon Line to New Jersey, that many of my friends were listening to Blackfoot, Molly Hatchet, The Outlaws and 38 Special. Unfortunately, not so many people heard of Johnny Van Zant when I mentioned them up north. They were mainly well known just in the south.
As all my British friends would say, this was a bloody shame because the Johnny Van Zant Band were a very good band and their second album, “Round Two” bears witness to this fact. There is a definitely influence from Johnny’s older brother on this album because I can detect some Lynyrd Skynyrd sounds here. But in no way does this band simply rip off the great Skynyrd. They bring their own brand of hard rock to tracks like “(Who’s) Right or Wrong,” “Shot Down” and “Standing in the Falling Rain.” Lead guitarists Robbie Gay and Eric Lundgren know how to play on these songs as well as others. They also do a very hard version of the Beatles classic “Drive My Car.” The album does have a ballad in the form of “Yesterday’ Gone.” I must declare that of all the Van Zant boys, Johnny’s vocals are the most attuned for singing ballads. Not that he can’t sing harder songs just as well, maybe better. It’s just too bad “Round Two” has been allowed to lay dormant for so many years.
1. (Who’s) Right or Wrong
2. Standing in the Falling Rain
3. Yesterday’s Gone
4. Let There Be Music
5. Keep Our Love Alive
6. Night Time Lady
7. Drive My Car
8. Shot Down
9. Cold Hearted Woman
10. Play My Music
Johnny Van Zant- vocals
Robbie Gay- lead guitar
Erik- Lundgren- lead guitar
Danny Clausman- bass
Robbie Morris- drums
As I progress through hard rock and metal history, I am discovering albums and bands that I took little notice of or missed completely. I can’t say that I missed the Johnny Van Zant Band because I saw them live in 1982 but that’s another story. I do regret not listening to this album more back in the time and I wish more people did as well. Here’s everyone’s chance to rectify that now.
Next post: Nantucket- Long Way to the Top
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