From the opening sound of a rattlesnake rattle, it is obvious that the newer members of Lynyrd Skynyrd are stepping out of the shadows and into the limelight where they belong. After all, Rick Medlocke, the "rattlesnake rocker" was himself a powerful frontman for his band Blackfoot in the '70s, while Hughie Thomasson performed the same duties for the Outlaws. On Edge of Forever, both Medlocke and Thomasson are heard with their individually unique guitar sounds. Unfortunately, they are still held back from performing any lead vocals, a chore either man could easily carry off. The opening song "Workin'" assaults the senses with a massive guitar attack that hooks the listener from the outset. Johnny Van Zant's vocals are as close to his late brother Ronnie Van Zant as they have ever been, and on the next song, "Full Moon Night," the swamp rock sound contains some definite early-Skynyrd influence, but also has hints of both the Blackfoot and Outlaws sounds. "Preacher Man" rocks with a refreshingly different feel; it no longer sounds like the boys are trying to imitate the Street Survivors record. The rowdiness that surrounds Southern rock comes to a head on "Mean Streets," with Gary Rossington, Thomasson, and Medlocke smoking across the fretboards in true rebel fashion. Next up is "Tomorrow's Goodbye," a ballad that can only be called modern country. The song is the highlight of the album, with Johnny Van Zant singing about saving the planet, and there is even a mention of brother Ronnie in the lyric, accented with one of Rossington's "Freebird" guitar notes that comes out of left field straight to your heart. The title track is a millennium song that returns to the old Skynyrd sound, while "Gone Fishin'" is one of the record's weaker moments. "Fishin'" is more filler than killer. Actually, the next song, "Through It All" is a bit weak as well, when compared to the rest of the album. "Money Back Guarantee" has some excellent piano work from Bill Powell, and "Get It While the Gettin's Good" is a very nice rocker, which leads into the power ballad "Rough Around the Edges," another of the better tracks here. "FLA" closes the set, a boogie-woogie rocker that makes a fitting closer for an overall good rock & roll record. While there are those who feel that Lynyrd Skynyrd died with the plane crash of 1977, one listen to Edge of Forever proves that their legacy is alive and well in 1999, and Lynyrd Skynyrd has more than a few good ideas left in their collective head.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Michael B. Smith