Street Survivors appeared in stores just days before Lynyrd Skynyrd's touring plane crashed, tragically killing many members of the band, including lead singer and songwriter Ronnie Van Zant. Consequently, it's hard to see Street Survivors outside of the tragedy, especially since the best-known song here, "That Smell," reeks of death and foreboding. If the band had lived, however, Street Survivors would have been seen as an unqualified triumph, a record that firmly re-establishedSkynyrd's status as the great Southern rock band. As it stands, it's a triumph tinged with a hint of sadness, sadness that's projected onto it from listeners aware of what happened to the band after recording. Viewed as merely a record, it's a hell of an album. The band springs back to life with the addition of guitarist Steve Gaines, and Van Zant used the time off the road to write a strong set of songs, highlighted by "That Smell," "You Got That Right," and the relentless boogie "I Know a Little." It's tighter than any record since Second Helping and as raw as Nuthin' Fancy. If the original band was fated to leave after this record, at least they left with a record that serves as a testament to Skynyrd's unique greatness. AMG.
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