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by Martin Popoff
Lynyrd Skynryd's Johnny Van Zant and 38 Special's Donnie Van Zant have followed up their '98 Brother To Brother album with Van Zant II, a record which will see the two legendary southern rock vocalists tour for the first time together for about a dozen dates, before each return for writing sessions with their main bands.
Packed with hard southern rockers, big power ballads and hot 'n' nasty boogie blues (consummate axeman Kenny Wayne Shepherd guests on two tracks), Van Zant II was recorded by an army of old friends in the duo's second spiritual homeland, Nashville.
"There's a lot of variety on this record," notes Donnie. "With that first one, we really had a lot of time to do it and with this one here, buddy, we just had to do it in two or three days here or there, and it took us about two years to put it together (laughs). But man, I'm really proud of it. There are songs on there that really move me emotionally and spiritually."
Asked whether he'd go with calling Van Zant II a modern version of southern rock, Donnie answers dismissively, "You know what, I don't like categories (laughs). I never really looked at 38 Special in terms of being a southern rock band. To me it's just an American rock 'n' roll band and we appeal to a broad spectrum of people. And we've done pretty good. I think we've sold above 12 million records; that's nothing to laugh about. But again, that doesn't mean I'm not proud to be a southerner. I believe in the traditions. The southern sound, if there is one... it's probably the water we have down here (laughs). But it's probably the spirit and the desire. I mean, I can only talk to you about 38 Special. Any time we went out touring with other bands, we thought we were going to make it hard on that headliner, and WE were the headliner, so that's the way we sort of approached it. We were going to go and make it hard for anybody who had to play after us, and that's still the way we approach playing."
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