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Top 10 Southern Rock Bands
The southern United States is a spooky place of equal parts back-woods moonshine and old Civil War mystery. From this special, almost mystical place, maybe the best type of rock and roll was born. The southern United States know the blues like no other district in the world – this comes out in simply poetic lyrics and great guitar riffs. Here’s a top 10 of the best.
They may have been from California but they sang some of the best southern rock songs like “Born On A Bayou” and “Long As I Can See The Light”. Lyrically “Midnight Special” is one of the quintessential southern rock songs but the fact that they were from out west bumps them down a couple levels to 10.
Yes, that guy and I’ll wager none of us know a single person that couldn’t sing every bar of “Devil Went Down To Georgia”. He is on there more for the girth of his work than for the #1 hits but Charlie made fiddles cool, kinda.
They plowed some good ground with songs like “Fire on the Mountain” and “Heard It In A Love Song” Doug Gray sings the part of the broken down yet happy southern boy damn well, I’m not sure they are the most influential band out there but they sure went to the well once with “Heard It In A Love Song.”
Pay attention to this band if this genre is for you, they have only been around since 1996 but they can play and are one of the only bands that can actually make the claim of being better live than on CD, most of these bands can say the same but most bands in the music world are filtered through miles of electronics to make them sound something like, well, shit. Luther Dickinson is one of the best singer/guitar players around. Check into “Mean Ol’ Wind Died Down” it’s satisfying.
Come on, these guys deserve a lot of credit for still being around and just like Fidel Castro, they still have their beards. Points for that, seriously though some of the best guitar licks in rock come from this band like “La Grange” could be the best rock and roll guitar song ever, ranking that is like ranking your favorite toes but it’s in the top 10 (new list somebody). They make lyrics like “A Haw Haw Haw/ A Haw Haw Haw Haw” sound good.
He gets most of his credit for being both a racist and a country singer but had a lot of southern rock in him. Songs like “Longhaired Redneck” and “If That Aint Country”. He wrote some pretty awful songs about black people but is repentant and what can you expect from a guy who has been in and out of reform schools and prison since the age of 9. “Southern boys live among the ghosts and spirits of slaves and soldiers crying out to a moon that’s done them wrong”–I hate unattributed quotes but this one kinda got it just right.
Kind of like the Beatles in the sense that he was basically just the first person to stumble on a round shape and use it for a wheel. I’m guessing someone would have taken black blues and gospel and mixed them with country to make southern rock shortly after him had he not. Just like that first cave man who invented the wheel–would have been done eventually. Still though, the older I get the better he sounds. Has far too many songs to list go pick your own.
Lowell George was a badass in the Duane Allman vein. There wasn’t anything he couldn’t do on a stage. This is one of the first southern rock bands whose album’s can be seen as entire pieces rather than a collection of songs. “Feats Don’t Fail Me Now” is a gem. They were among the first bands from the south to include black musicians which proves art is a ways ahead of the rest of life, avant guard is the status quo. Their clothes suffered during the 70’s as the entire country slipped into the deluge of disco, that mosquito that sucked the soul of music from us for nearly 2 decades largely until Nirvana’s Nevermind (one of the most appropriate titles to an album, a jaded exasperated response to a world that just doesn’t get it). Lowell George died in 1979 and like many of our best they left all too soon. Life’s a bitch for the ubertalented, I guess.
Named after their high school gym teacher in a back-handed way. This is one of the most played bands of all time. They have anthems like “Free Bird” and “Sweet Home Alabama”, “Gimme Three Steps” and “Every Mother’s Son” are classics as well. And, just like Lowell George and Duane Allman, Ronnie Van Zandt died too early, this time in a plane crash along with two other bandmates and both pilot and copilot. They continued to make music with Johnny Van Zant, Ronnie’s brother, at the front. It was tough to bump them to the second spot in this list but the Allman Brothers Band, and the spin-off’s like Gov’t Mule and The Greg Allman Band, are just too good both lyrically and in skill.
“All Night Train” is one of the all time best jam songs I’ve heard and the Allman Brothers built their foundation on playing instruments well, then getting bent on drugs and booze. And they were certainly not the most attractive group of guys but NSYNC and the Back Street Men sucked and they were gorgeous. Songs like “Going Down Slow” well showed the down side of drug and drink: “won’t somebody write my mother/and tell her the shape I’m in/ I want you to tell her to pray for me/ask her to forgive me for all my sins.” Prophetic lyrics, had Duane Allman not died there is no telling how much new ground the group would have cut. Songs like “Rambling Man” and “Midnight Rider” are anthems best listened to alone in the driver’s seat on some long highway with the music way up. Duane Allman lived hard and kicked a lot of ass. Its unbelievable he died at the age of 24.