Courtesy of Everett Collection
There is much more than “Whipping Post” and “Free Bird”.
Or “Hold On Loosely” and “Flirtin ‘With Disaster”.
While southern rock, like all musical genres, is defined by its giants and best-known compositions, smaller pieces complement the sound image and historical perspective.
Oh, don’t get me wrong. The cream rises. There’s a reason the Allman Brothers Band and Lynyrd Skynyrd are the most famous of their ilk – they were clearly the best. Still, sometimes a piece from a lesser-known act (or a lesser-known piece from a featured act) can thrill more (at least for a while) than an iconic hit, just because you didn’t yet heard the darkness 4,763 times.
With all of that in mind, I recently scoured decades of bands, albums and tracks to come up with a list of southern rock tracks that more people should be hooked on.
There were a few ground rules for this list: 1.) each song had to be released in 1993 or before, to keep all entries 25 years or older, and therefore, sound somewhat “classic”; 2.) all groups must have formed in the South, which automatically excludes groups like Ram Jam (New York), April Wine (Nova Scotia, Canada) and Little Feat (Los Angeles); and 3.) For moderate notoriety acts with success, I tried to avoid their signature song.
Here are the results: 25 Underrated and / or Obscured Southern Rock Songs You Need to Know.
Prepare for plenty of guitar, hats, hair, and denim solos.
“Every Mother’s Son” 1976
“Obscure” and “underrated” are relative terms when talking about a huge band like Lynyrd Skynyrd. Still, more than a few casual to moderate Skynyrd fans aren’t familiar with this sublime deep cut, which exudes singer Ronnie Van Zant’s philosophical-fisherman-buddy charm.
“The queen of glitter” 1974
From: Atlanta, Georgia.
Road boogie with a hard-rock edge and smooth horn accents from this Capricorn Records combo.
“Lord have mercy on my soul” 1971
Arkansas black oak
Black Oak, Arkansas
If you have a hard time remembering southern rock anecdotes, Black Oak Arkansas is the band for you. The name of their group is also the name of their hometown. The title of their most famous track, showboating “Jim Dandy”, is almost identical to that of their frontman / sex machine, Jim “Dandy” Mangrum. Although the gospel-boogie “Lord Have Mercy On My Soul” (which reaches takeoff in almost two minutes) will never compete with “Jim Dandy” for notoriety (although both tracks were featured in the 1993 film ” Dazed and Confused “), it’s always a lot of fun.
“Campaign of Life” 1974
Cheerful rural funk, similar to that found on Wet Willie’s business card smash, “Keep On Smilin ‘”.
“Brown sugar” 1971
The blues and classic rock mainstays debut album “ZZ Top’s First Album” is criminally ignored these days, and “Brown Sugar” (not a cover of The Stones) is the perfect place to dig.
“Pipe of Peace” 1993
cry of love
Raleigh, North Carolina
Before being a Black Crowe and a guitar to hire for stars like Dixie Chicks and Joe Perry, Audley Freed’s curly licks propelled the Hendrix-meets-Humble-Pie Cry of Love band. This quartet recorded a radio-rock success (now too often overlooked) very early on with “Peace Pipe”, recorded at Muscle Shoals Sound. Their follow-up LP, “Diamonds & Debris” from 1997, was even better.
“The Friend’s Song” 1988
Drive and cry
While these members of the Georgia Music Hall of Famers may still hang their hats on “Fly Me Courageous”, “Straight to Hell” and “Honeysuckle Blue”, this earlier version of “Led Zeppelin III” is also a gem.
“Green grass and high tides” 1975
Twang turns into an electric howl during this almost 10-minute opus. “Green Grass & High Tides” has never been released as a single. And according to the man who wrote it, Hughie Thomasson, co-founder of Outlaws (and Lynyrd Skynyrd guitarist these days), despite the title, the song isn’t about weed, but about a storyline in which beloved rockers like Jim Morrison and Janis Joplin have gone back to perform. Maybe Thomasson is now part of such a jam session. He died in 2007 at the age of 55.
“High Falls” 1975
Allman Brothers Band
“In Memory of Elizabeth Reed” and “Jessica” are the Allman’s signature instrumental workouts, and “High Falls” comes from that same bag of magic.
“Champagne jam” 1978
Atlanta Rhythm Section
Known for the hits “So Into You” and “Imaginary Lover”, ARS’s “Southern Steely Dan” sound is also evident on the title track of their LP “Champagne Jam”.
“Brilliant Side of the City” 1978
After recording key guitar solos on Bob Marley and Rolling Stones records, Alabama ace Wayne Perkins recorded a Capitol Records LP with his own band Crimson Tide.
“Nothing matters but fever” 1977
Between keyboardist Chuck Leavell’s time with the Allmans and Stones, he concocted a red-soaked fusion with the band Capricorn Records Sea Level.
“Misty morning of the mountain” 1976
Winters Brothers Group
Mountain guitars on the Atlantic Records arc of this brother-led group.
“Don’t get me wrong” 1980
Rossington Collins Group
Four members of Lynyrd Skynyrd who survived the group’s 1977 plane crash are linked to a lead singer, as southern rock moved out of the genre’s first rank in the 1970s.
“Funky Fried Chicken” 1977
Knotty fusion with a southern accent.
“May this be a lesson for you” 1977
While Gregg’s first eloquent solo LP in 1973, “Laid Back,” was well-regarded, the follow-up, “Playin ‘Up A Storm” did not receive much love. But the decidedly “Hollywood” second effort contains a few gatekeepers, including “Let This Be A Lesson To Ya,” co-written with Dr. John.
“A man’s pleasure” 1979
It’s easy to just focus on “Flirtin ‘With Disaster” and the fantasy-themed cover art, but Molly Hatchet had other things going for them, including the silver shimmy “One Man’s Pleasure”.
“Hard Act to Follow” 1993
“Got No Shame” climbed higher on the charts and guitarist Damon Johnson continued to do dreamy gigs with Alice Cooper and Thin Lizzy, but the R&B-tinged “Hard Act To Follow” may be his work. more sustainable.
“Mean to Your Queenie” 1979
At close range
You can almost hear the 70s turning into the 80s on this MCA Records release.
“Take the highway” 1973
Marshall Tucker Group
Spartanburg, South Carolina
“Take The Highway” is not as well known as the mountain biking nuggets “Can’t You See”, “Heard It In a Love Song” and “Fire on the Mountain” and was not included in their collection of greatest hits of 1978. Yet it’s an essential jam that suggests what the Allmans would look like with flute solos.
From the first solo by Richard Betts, aka Allman Brothers guitarist Dickey Betts. With its spangled steel pedals, “Rain” might have veered into the country in its own right, if it weren’t for Betts’ unmistakable Les Paul excursions.
“Long Time Gone” 1977
Before 38 sleek and polished radio smashes like “Rockin ‘into the Night” and the fantastic “Hold On Loosely”, they started with a more traditional southern rock vibe. (Plus, what did Jacksonville officials put in the water back then? Because so many notable southern rock bands seem to have formed there.)
“I have a line on you” 1979
Blackfoot brought us the rock-harmonica “Train, Train” and the tour bus saga “Highway Song”. Their ’70s update augmented with helping hands of Spirit’s “I Got a Line On You” also kicks off.
“Time will take us” 1974
The cool southern rock version of Cowboy produced two awesome songs later covered by bigger artists: “Please Be With Me” (the Cowboy original boasted of Duane Allman on the slide) by Eric Clapton and ” All My Friends ”by Gregg Allman). Fans of these essentials should also look for the slinky “Time Will Take Us,” from “The Gregg Allman Tour” LP Cowboy served as the backing band.
“Live Too Fast Blues / Mercy, Sweet Moan” 1990
The hidden track closing their debut multi-platinum LP “Shake Your Money Maker” only lasts a minute or so, but it clearly shows why The Crowes had more soul than any other ’90s band, Southerner or otherwise. Hidden tracks also quickly became a fad for ’90s albums.
Obviously, this list is only my opinion. If you know of an underrated or obscure southern rock nugget that isn’t on the list, feel free to rate the song and band in the comments section.