Johnny Van Zant - vocals; Dan Clausman - bass; Robbie Gay - guitar; Eric Lundgren - guitar; Ronnie Clausman - drums; Duane Evans - keyboards
Before he joined up with the remaining surviving members of Lynyrd Skynyrd in 1990 to revive that classic rock franchise (and as the replacement for his late brother, Ronnie), Johnny Van Zant had a budding Southern Rock solo career, with Van Zant, his own band. He was just beginning when the Skynyrd plane crashed in 1977, but the notoriety he received from being Ronnie's youngest brother kept the momentum going on his own solo career for a few years after that.
This show, recorded in 1982 for the King Biscuit Flower Hour radio concert series, is a rare, live example of Van Zant's early work, which was clearly influenced by the music Ronnie had made in Skynyrd, and the more commercial Southern Rock that his other older brother, Donnie Van Zant, was already making in the more radio-friendly .38 Special. Despite these obvious nods of appreciation to his family (he even does his own version of Skynyrd's "I Ain't the One") Johnny Van Zant was trying to establish his own path to rock 'n' roll infamy. There's nothing exceptional about the material or the musicianship of Van Zant's backing band, and songs like "Right or Wrong," "Night Time Lady," and "No More Dirty Deals" are pretty standard fare for a early '80s hard rock act, but, Van Zant tries to move into a more hard rock direction than the other contemporary acts that came out of the South in this period.
Van Zant does his best to carry on his family tradition and also keep some identity of his own. That was not easy for him, back then. Many of the songs are either directly or indirectly about the late Van Zant, especially "Standing in the Shadows." Despite his uncanny ability to sound like Ronnie for much of this set, Johnny Van Zant also exhibits the talent and ability to forge his own musical path, and this would be come much apparent when he later crossed over into the country music market.
Some of this show is dated and typically sexist rockers such as "Good Girls Turning Bad," reminding us of that forgettable time when Motley Crue ruled the airwaves at MTV and most male rock stars only had one thing on their minds. When the surviving members of Skynyrd decided to reform and tap Johnny Van Zant for the lead vocalist spot, there was apprehension from fans and critics alike. The pairing was an obvious success because Skynyrd has carried on as one of the most successful classic bands of all time. Though he continues to release the occasional solo album, he has seen the biggest success outside of Lynyrd Skynyrd by way of a country music project done with his other brother, Donnie, in which has revived the Van Zant band name.