In other words, here in Wood-land, you better nail it or do something truly interesting with it, or risk being tarred, feathered and paraded through the streets which have no name…or something like that.
That’s how I, a diehard old Skynyrd fan, see it anyway (lol).
So I get this press release that says in part:
House of Melody, an Arkansas based southern rock band composed of Steve “Kish” Moody, Nick Carter, Steve Shatzer and James “Lynn” Burke, have come together to record and promote a new album to generate scholarships for music education.
Appropriately titled Turn It Up, the band has assembled a collection of Lynyrd Skynyrd tunes…. The song selection is carefully crafted to include select tracks such as “The Needle and the Spoon”, “Tuesday’s Gone”, “Saturday Night Special” and “Simple Man.”
The band is quick to point out they are not a tribute band. “Lynyrd Skynyrd defines southern rock and that’s what we are; a southern rock band. Those guys inspired us to learn how to play and that’s what we want to achieve with this new recording,” states Burke.
The band pulled no punches on equipment, time, personnel or quality knowing full well these virtues will shine through when audiences turn it up.
Like I said, cojones. In the release was this link, to their version of “The Needle and the Spoon.” Give it a listen…
…pretty sweet, ain’t it?
Bear in mind that in this era of music, it’s somehow become more difficult to get wood recorded than not. It’s like everyone has forgotten how to turn up an amp and mic it right. Either that or there’s just too many toys in the toy box now.
Anyhow, it’s not every day you hear wood – especially Skynyrd wood – so I’m intrigued. I want to know how they did it…but first I ask to hear more. I mean, was “The Needle” an anomaly? Will the rest of the tunes hold up?
Got three more: “Saturday Night Special,” “Simple Man” and “Tuesday’s Gone.” I was impressed.
Overall the tunes are a bit more modern rock-sounding than classic Skynyrd, especially “Saturday Night Special” – which, truth be told, I’m a harsh judge of because I freakin’ love that tune and have memorized it better than my wedding anniversary date, if you know what I mean.
“Tuesday” suffers a bit for me from a different last note on the intro solo, but is good. “Simple Man” is surprisingly good. Surprising because, let’s face it, that’s a tough song to cover. Not the notes – the soul.
Could go on, but you’re reading about it because the music was good…with wood. Plus the causes are good: music education, and getting more folks familiar with one of the greatest American rock bands of all time.
I asked the guitar players – Lynn and Kish – about what they did to prepare for this and their gear choices. Here, in a two-parter, are the deets:
WoodyTone: This is pretty huge, redoing some of the greatest songs ever. Was it ever intimidating or seen as a huge responsibility?
Lynn: Absolutely, no doubt about it.
Kish Moody, Steven Shatzer, Nick Carter and I talked about it for several months before we ever decided to go ahead with this project. We also spent a lot of time determining who would play what and how.
What concerned us the most iwas how we would add our own arrangements to these songs while still preserving the past and not sounding like your average bar band. It had to be in your face rock and roll that accented the guitar parts. After all, Skynyrd is famous for their distinct three-guitar attack, and if those parts didn’t mesh and flow right, we’d have a big problem.
Everyone in the House of Melody band hails from Tennessee or Arkansas, and we all grew up on Lynyrd Skynyrd music. It’s not just a “Southern Thing,” but as southerners when you do cover these tracks, they better be RIGHT since we’ll be held to a higher standard.
Then you couple the fact that Lynyrd Skynyrd’s first headline gig was in Memphis, and very close to the world famous Ardent Studios where we recorded “The Needle and the Spoon,” and that makes it even more intimidating.
Kish: I’ve been a Skynyrd fan since childhood, so I was confident in what I wanted to do in the songs. I’ve imagined recreating these songs for years, and played them for years on the scene. I felt it was a huge responsibility to do justice to the Great American songs for the listener and my own standards.
WT: The interplay of the Skynyrd guitar parts is more complex than lots of folks realize. How did you choose what parts to play? Or did you make up your own based on how you hear each song?
Lynn: My thought process was to take an overall picture of how each song progressed through the years from when they originally recorded it to how they may record or play it live today, then add portions of those riffs with our own versions.
Kish decided I should play the signature rhythm parts since being 19 years older than he is, I remember all the different versions better than he does. I also covered the solos on “Simple Man” and “Tuesday’s Gone.”
Then I’d turn Kish loose and let him improv all the lead riffs, fills and solos on “Saturday Night Special” and “The Needle and the Spoon.” What transpired were some amazing solos for sure, especially with what he did with “Needle.”
That two-part solo was amazing. It totally respected the past, but Kish added a touch of Slash Hudson meets Allen Collins, and the results definitely fit the song with a more modern feel while sticking to the original vibe. Matter of fact, a lot of Kish’s fills and solos were perfect after one take. Those went straight to tape.
Kish: We wanted to keep a lot of the traditional Skynyrd licks and add a touch of originality to put a modern feel on it.
For instance, “The Needle and the Spoon” rhythm parts are completely based on the original, but the lead parts were my own licks – but my guitar playing is heavily influenced by Lynyrd Skynyrd.
“Tuesday’s Gone” is such an iconic song that we didn’t want to change the melody for the guitar or vocals. But we added our soul and feel into the mix.