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Locked In album review - Sounds, March 1976 by Peter Malkowski
Lynyrd Skynyrd are a band who initially caught people’s attention with their dazzling guitar pyrotechnics on an epic track entitled “Freebird”. Later, they turned to producer Tom Dowd (of Clapton/Stewart fame) to help them out of their musical rut. Funny that Wishbone Ash, who also pricked the punter’s ears with their astounding guitar showmanship on their debut album zenith cut “Phoenix”, should do the same thing.
With Skynyrd, the result was a tight punchy consistent effort entitled “Double Trouble”, which brought the band a new lease of life. With Ash, I’m not sure if the result was totally successful. Some of the album is breathtaking, some of it is very disappointing. While Skynyrd let Dowd manipulate the raw material, Ash seemed to be trying to take a giant step forward at the same time as it seems as if Dowd is confused as to which direction the band are heading.
It is obvious from tracks like “No Water In the Well”, “She Was My Best Friend” and “It Started in Heaven” that the band are concentrating on vocals and melodies and these tracks do not fully succeed to bring this over. While on cuts like the opener “Rest In Peace” and “Moonshine” the band deliver the goods with their style of well-structured rock.
The guitars of Andy Powell and Laurie Wisefield are strong and subtle, sometimes sounding like breaks you would find comfortably nestled on a Steely Dan album. The production seems rather mellow on these songs.
The whole group plays well throughout the album. They are still an exciting and sometimes inspiring outfit, but somehow this album seems a drastic move and, after many listenings, it still seems to be an inconsistent effort.