King Biscuit Flower Hour [no label 1CD]
Live Cardiff, Wales Nov 6 1975.

Seventy minutes of primal Skynyrd, kicking out of the same tour that gave us their sensational Old Grey Whistle Test performance, but twice as long and five times as dynamic. "Double Trouble," from the still-unreleased Gimme Back My Bullets, kicks things off with a laconic sting; "The Needle and the Spoon" and "Simple Man" are relentless and, with Nuthin' Fancy still hot on the shelves, "Saturday Night Special" lives up to its namesake with a vengeance. 

Even better, the audience is enthusiastic but not voluble - too many vintage Skynyrd live recordings are marred by the sound of the crowd, reminding us that the paying customers were as much a part of the show as the band. Here, it's the band's show all the way, and Skynyrd have rarely sounded better. There's a cool "Call Me The Breeze," a funky "T For Texas," and a surprisingly mellow "Sweet Home Alabama," and, of course, an epic (11-minute) "Free Bird" to take the night out with the one song that everybody in the venue knows and loves - and, for the first time, the American listener feels at home with the Limeys… shocked into silence by one of the band's most pristine performances of the old chestbeater. - Dave Thompson

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May 23, 2008