Van Zant – Red, White And Blue (Live)


Hell Yeah!

Released through Loud and Proud Records on 29 July 2016, and listened to with frequent cries of ‘Hell yeah!’ by Paul Quinton

In the days before finding fame and fortune with 38 Special and the mighty Lynyrd Skynyrd, the surviving musical Van Zant Brothers, Donnie and Johnny, played together in their own band, Van Zant, which they reactivated at various times during breaks in their respective bands’ schedules. They got together again in 2005 with a view to delving into their own country roots, and because both they, and their much missed brother Ronnie, had always wanted to make a country record. The record was such a success, with Top Ten success on both the country single and album charts, they toured the States during 2005 and 2006, including this show at the Wild Adventures Theme Park in Valdosta, Georgia, and it seems that this is the only official record of that tour

As might be expected, the hit album, Get Right With The Man, provides the bulk of this 14 song set, alongside some crowd pleasers from their separate careers. On first listen, I thought the references to ‘a country record’, both in the album’s publicity and some of the intros on the record, didn’t match the music, as most of the opening part of the record has that characteristic mix of rock, blues and country that defines Southern rock in general. Opener ‘Taking Up Space’, for example would be right at home on a Skynyrd record, and while the following song ‘Ain’t Nobody Gonna Tell Me What To Do’ introduces more of a country-rock feel, and has a very ‘country’ title, the guitars still rock pretty hard. And then comes one of 38 Special’s biggest songs, ‘Wild Eyed Southern Boys’, a seriously big hit on US Rock radio and with an enjoyable AOR sheen.

It has to be said that, after those songs, the country element is far stronger on the rest of the album, with the trademark lap steel guitar making its presence felt quite firmly. ‘Things I Miss The Most’ and the big single hit, ‘Help Somebody’, are more like what most people would regard as country, while ‘I Can’t Help Myself’ is undoubtedly the most country song on the album, and then there’s ‘My Kind of Country’, which definitely lives up to its title. But even amongst these songs, ‘Plain Jane’ is a cracking rock song, and the album’s big finish includes a healthy dose of Skynyrd. Donnie and Johnny collaborated to write ‘Red, White and Blue’, which Skynyrd recorded for the Vicious Cycle album, and which is given an almost anthemic reading here, before two proper Skynyrd crowd pleasers to finish the show, a terrific ‘Call Me The Breeze’ and the almost inevitable ‘Sweet Home Alabama’.

One minor quibble I have with the album is that, at least to these British ears, it’s a little weird hearing the guys attest to the crowd about their Christianity, and how their faith played a part in their success, and to be honest I very much doubt whether either will be voting for Hilary Clinton in the Presidential election. But ignoring that, it’s a fine sounding album, with the band as a whole on top form, and assuming they’re predominantly country musicians, do not doubt their capacity to rock. As a long time Skynyrd fan, I enjoyed this record hugely, and although Donnie retired from working with 38 Special in 2013 on medical advice, I’d like to think the Brothers Van Zant would work together again if something this good was the result.

Van Zant – Red, White And Blue8 out of 10

Track list:

  1. Taking Up Space
  2. Ain’t Nobody Gonna tell me What To Do
  3. Sweet Mama
  4. Wild Eyed Southern Boys
  5. Things I Miss the Most
  6. I Know My History
  7. Help Somebody
  8. Plain Jane
  9. I Can’t Help Myself
  10. I’m Doing Alright
  11. Red, White And Blue
  12. My Kinda Country
  13. Call Me The Breeze
  14. Sweet Home Alabama



  1. I’m not quibbling, I just said it was something British audiences generally would be uncomfortable with. I think that’s a fair assumption.

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