Top 14 Lynyrd Skynyrd Albums Ranked (Worst to Best)
When someone mentions the phrase “southern rock,” Lynyrd Skynyrd should be one of the first names that comes to mind. These guys started all the way back in the 1960’s and have continued for decades surviving many highs and tragic lows in the process. Join me as we go through the Lynyrd Skynyrd albums ranked from “worst” to the absolute best.
Lynyrd Skynyrd Albums Ranked
The best Lynyrd Skynyrd albums (ranked in descending order) are the following:
14) Christmas Time Again
13) Vicious Cycle
12) God and Guns
11) Endangered Species
10) The Last Rebel
9) Edge of Forever
7) Last of a Dyin’ Breed
6) Lynyrd Skynyrd 1991
5) Gimme Back My Bullets
4) Street Survivors
3) Nuthin’ Fancy
2) Second Helping
1) Pronounced (Leh-Nerd Skeh-Nerd)
Lynyrd Skynyrd released their first studio album in 1973 and their last studio album in 2012. Now that you’ve seen my list, let’s dive deeper into why each album is slotted at its respective position.
14. Christmas Time Again (2000)
What were they thinking? Surprisingly, Christmas albums from over-the-hill rockers were prevalent around this time, with even the likes of Jethro Tull and Bob Dylan joining in. This is an interesting record for its novelty, but there isn’t much of a reason to listen to this one.
Favorite Song on Christmas Time Again: “Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer” isn’t a good song, but it’s just hilarious to hear Lynyrd Skynyrd doing this one. If you must listen to a song from this album, check this one out and skip the rest.
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13. Vicious Cycle (2003)
This era of the band isn’t known for its inspired writing to begin with, as most of the original members have long since left the group or passed away. Therefore, it’s puzzling why they chose to release a 70-minute album. The band is tight, but the songwriting is weak and lacks the spark of their 1970’s classics.
Favorite Song on Vicious Cycle: “Red, White, & Blue” signals the patriotic, country-influenced direction the band would continue in, but it’s a catchy rocker. It’s no surprise this was the single, as it’s the only track that stands out.
12. God & Guns (2009)
Another clunker in the catalogue, God & Guns is a dull country rock album. The lyrics continue in a political direction, making it a far cry from the group’s classic 70’s material. It sounds like they’ve been listening to Nickelback, rather than the blues masters who inspired their golden age.
Favorite Song on God & Guns: “Still Unbroken” opens the album, and it’s about as good as it gets. It’s a competent southern rock song, but the album takes a sharp nosedive immediately afterwards.
11. Endangered Species (1994)
Despite the album featuring 70’s-era guitarist Ed King, the songwriting is again weak and boring. Mostly an acoustic album, there are even a few useless remakes of classic hits like “Sweet Home Alabama” here. It’s a noble exercise in experimentation, but it all falls flat.
Favorite Song on Endangered Species: “Poison Whiskey” isn’t bad. It’s a concise acoustic jam with a nice groove and sounds more inspired than the other selections here.
10. The Last Rebel (1993)
Are you sensing a theme here? I applaud the title track for evoking some moodiness and experimentation, featuring some uncharacteristic strings and synthesizers, but this is more generic southern rock. It sounds like the band doesn’t want to be in the studio.
Favorite Song on The Last Rebel: “The Last Rebel” is a cheesy ballad for Skynyrd standards, but it works for me. The sense of melodrama and moodiness was an interesting step for the band to take.
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9. Edge of Forever (1999)
It’s hard to differentiate this one from the band’s other output during this period. It’s largely more generic southern rock, but there are a couple of fun songs here. Like other Skynyrd records from this time, it’s rather top heavy and starts to wear thin by side two.
Favorite Song on Edge of Forever: “Workin’” kicks the album off with a solid southern rocker. Sadly, the momentum does not last throughout the duration, but this is a well-written song.
8. Twenty (1997)
Creatively named in honor of the twentieth anniversary of the plane crash that initially put a halt to the band’s career in 1977, unfortunately the album isn’t a return to the quality of that era’s output. Musically, it isn’t a whole lot different from what you’ll hear on Edge of Forever or Vicious Cycle, but there are a couple of fun tunes here.
Favorite Song on Twenty: “Voodoo Lake” is a groovy deep cut, and a catchy one at that. If I were in the studio during the recording, I would have voted for this one to be the single. It’s standard southern rock fare, but it’s the song that stuck with me the most.
7. Last of a Dyin’ Breed (2012)
The most recent Skynyrd album, featuring exactly one original member, is a shockingly inspired and lucid release. There are some terrible missteps, of course, like “Homegrown,” which sounds more like a Kid Rock song than a classic southern rock band. But the band largely sounds tighter and more enthusiastic than expected.
Favorite Song on Last of a Dyin’ Breed: “Last of a Dyin’ Breed” kicks off the album in style, with a biker-rock feel that’s too fun to deny. The production is crisp and clear, but not too sterile, and it lacks the modern country sound Skynyrd often go for on their newer releases. It sounds like Lynyrd Skynyrd.
6. Lynyrd Skynyrd 1991 (1991)
The first studio album to be released after the band’s fourteen-year hiatus from recording, it’s a mostly competent southern rock record, especially to be released amidst the height of grunge music. There are a few stinkers like “Pure & Simple,” which sounds more like a Toby Keith or Billy Ray Cyrus song.
Most of the album is pleasant fun, and the band sounds like they actually wanted to be in the studio.
Favorite Song on Lynyrd Skynyrd 1991: “Smokestack Lightning” keeps up the trend of opening the album with the best track. It gets the party grooving and makes me want to grill some dogs and drink cheap beer. That’s the goal for most southern rock for me—great party music, and this accomplishes it well.
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5. Gimme Back My Bullets (1976)
Finally, we enter the golden age of Lynyrd Skynyrd. Every record from this point on is essential 70’s classic southern rock. Gimme Back My Bullets is the weakest of the band’s original run, but it’s still full of gems. The title track is a classic, mid-paced groove, and “I Got The Same Old Blues” is in the same vein, heavy and driving. This album maintains this laid-back effortlessness throughout, but it’s all compelling southern rock.
Favorite Song on Gimme Back My Bullets: “Searching” is a deep cut in the band’s catalogue, but it’s up there with the best. This is probably the most upbeat and rocking tune on the album, featuring a killer guitar solo from the group’s trademark triple-guitar attack.
4. Street Survivors (1977)
Released three days before the infamous career-ending plane crash, this is more top tier southern boogie rock. From the familiar hits like “What’s Your Name” and “That Smell,” to lesser-known jams like “Ain’t No Good Life,” there isn’t much to complain about here. It makes it even more depressing that these guys were writing such quality rock ‘n roll when half the band’s life was cut short.
Favorite Song on Street Survivors: “You Got That Right” is an awesome tune. Notable for featuring shared vocal duties between Ronnie Van Zant and Steve Gaines, this is an upbeat party anthem. Producer Tom Dowd really made Leon Wilkeson’s bass stand out here as well.
3. Nuthin’ Fancy (1975)
This is where it gets harder to pick a favorite. There really aren’t any flaws here. It’s all some of the best southern rock put on tape. From the anti-gun violence “Saturday Night Special” to the organ-driven bluesy slow jam “Cheatin’ Woman,” this is rock ‘n roll songwriting 101.
Favorite Song on Nuthin’ Fancy: “On The Hunt” is a beast of a track, evoking an epic feel. This is an overlooked track in the band’s catalogue, but it’s got a heavy and almost doomy feel to it.
2. Second Helping (1974)
Featuring their most famous hit single “Sweet Home Alabama” and a host of other classics, this is another spotless rock ‘n roll album. The anti-drug “The Needle and the Spoon” is haunting, “The Ballad of Curtis Loew” is a gorgeous ballad, and “Call Me The Breeze” is a rare case of a cover song vastly improving on the original.
Favorite Song on Second Helping: “Workin’ for MCA” is a classic track still played by the band today. It’s a satirical commentary on the ins and outs of the music industry, a far cry from what the lyrical state of the band would be some 40 years later. That opening riff will be stuck in your head for days.
1. Pronounced (Leh-Nerd Skeh-Nerd) (1973)
This is a rare case of a classic band releasing a perfect rock album right out the gate. The classic southern rockers who got their namesake from their least favorite gym teacher packed this debut full of hits. You might know the soaring ballad “Tuesday’s Gone” or the boogie rock jukebox anthem “Gimme Three Steps” already, but don’t forget the stellar deep cuts like “Mississippi Kid.”
Favorite Song on Pronounced (Leh-Nerd Skeh-Nerd): “Free Bird” might be an obvious choice, but it’s a classic for a reason. This is an epic jam featuring one of the greatest guitar solos in rock history, full of building tension and release, and the lyrics take on a more poignant meaning with most of the band members being sadly departed.
I hope you enjoyed my list of the best Lynyrd Skynyrd albums. While there are some uninspired low points in the band’s long career, their five original studio albums from the 1970’s are essentials in any rock fan’s collection. I urge you to give them a chance, even if you’ve already heard the hits.
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