By Daniel Watts
Music Reviewer and Segment Producer
Johnny Van Zant, the younger brother of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Ronnie Van Zant and .38 Special’s Donnie Van Zant, released his second studio album, the first under the Van Zant name in 1985.
The straightforward titled album “Van-Zant”, was produced by Rodney Mills and was originally released on Geffen Records. This era of the Van Zant band consisted of Johnny Van Zant on vocals, Robbie Morris on drums, Erik Lundgren and Robbie Gay on guitar and Danny Clausman on bass.
As they say, the rest is history.
It’s been 31 years since “Van-Zant” hit the public and sadly with each passing decade has seemed to have made its way into the forgotten musical graveyards in basements and attics across the world. With the help of outlets like the New 'N' Review blog and Amazon though, the album can be given some of the attention it deserves. Albums, much like people, can age gracefully. “Van-Zant” is one of them. It features a unique blend of Pop and Rock with a slight Southern Rock flare, not too much though. The album’s overall sound has a mainstream Top 40 vibe.
The production quality of “Van-Zant” is solid, likewise are the playing and singing. There’s nothing groundbreaking or over-the-top on any of the album’s ten songs but I do think each one is well crafted. If you haven’t guessed already “Van-Zant” does sound a little dated but that’s one of the characteristics I admire about the album. It packs a youthful punch straight from ‘85 that is infectious. Not to mention that its level of consistency is great too. My favorites on “Van-Zant” start with the track “She’s Out With A Gun”. It’s a silky smooth and extremely catchy Pop ballad that tends to find its way on repeat, for me. Next is the song “I’m A Fighter”. This track is Van Zant’s “Eye Of The Tiger” equivalent in my opinion. Lastly, “2+2” is an upbeat rocker that speaks of the age old topics: cheating and broken hearts. It also showcases some excellent vocal work by Johnny Van Zant.