Various Artists

Southern Rock: Gold [2 CD]

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Much like jazz, Southern rock isn't just a musical genre, it's an institution, one that is interwoven into the fabric of 20th century American popular culture and is distinctly indigenous to American shores. As such, there have been countless anthologies and budget-line collections loosely assembling a smattering of the sound and its rich diversity, but nothing like this. Southern Rock: Gold isn't just an anthology, it's an anthropological and sociological document of some of the greatest rock music ever to come out of the American South, complete with a veritable who's who of the style. The set bookends with the one-two punch of the godfathers of Southern rock: Lynyrd Skynyrd and the Allman Brothers with their instantly recognizable classics "Sweet Home Alabama," "Freebird," "Ramblin' Man," and "Whipping Post," each a massive hit and signature tune that defined the movement. In between there are contributions from many of the super groups from the '70s and some of the torch bearers of the sound from the '80s, including the Kentucky Headhunters and the Georgia Satellites (who were responsible for Southern rock's last stand on the pop charts with the infectious "Keep Your Hands to Yourself," thanks in part to an amazing music video). Die-hard fans of the style may argue over the track selection, and some may even fight over the sequencing. But this isn't a set for the die-hard fan (even though it deserves a place in their collection, especially to just have all of the hits in one place); this is something that's immediately accessible to the casual listener and a guide point to dig deeper into the treasure trove of the Southern rock sound. It's one of the most enjoyable road maps ever assembled and paints a vivid portrait of such an important era in American pop music.

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