Picks and Pans Review: Van Zant

updated 05/06/1985 at 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/06/1985 01:00AM

Van Zant

Ronnie Van Zant was the presiding spirit of Lynyrd Skynyrd—before a plane crash claimed his life in 1977. Donnie Van Zant was the founder of .38 Special. Johnny, the third Van Zant boy from Jacksonville, Fla., fronts this quintet. His voice may be technically better than Donnie's. It certainly claims a wider domain. But the older brother's fuming vocals are still richer and more seductive. Instrumentally the Van Zant band, like .38 Special, uses a two-guitar attack. Erik Lundgren and Robbie Gay are excellent in tandem or in their solos. This album seems to have all the ingredients of a hit, including the production of Southern-rock maestro Rodney Mills. Still, V-Z is stale, knee-jerk stuff. You can twitch to such tunes as Two Strangers, but it would be hard to dance to them. Even the LP's better songs, I'm a Fighter and Right on Time, have the hollow ring of familiarity. This same lineup has turned out three previous records as the Johnny Van Zant Band. Now they have changed labels and names. If only Johnny's music had the dash his name has somehow acquired. (Network/Geffen)

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