In light of Tom Daniel’s post “Top 11 Southern Rock Bands,” I thought I would create a list of my top Southern rock albums. Many of these records are from the bands he mentions, but I included several others. How did I choose? I selected albums that have stood or will stand the test of time and that can be played start to finish with few poor or forgettable tunes. Bands had to be either from the South or play Southern rock (I only selected one band from outside the South, but it is too good to leave off the list). Not all of the bands or albums are easily recognizable, but I hope that this may inspire someone to buy their record. You should.
The Marshall Tucker Band, The Marshall Tucker Band: Includes the studio version of Can’t You See, Take the Highway, and my favorite tune from the album, Hillbilly Band.
The Marshall Tucker Band, Searchin’ For A Rainbow: The album includes the title track, Fire on the Mountain and one of my favorite Tucker tunes, Bound and Determined as well as a live version of Can’t You See. There are several great Marshall Tucker albums, but this is the best from start to finish.
The Charlie Daniels Band, High Lonesome: Simply a great album. It displays great guitar work, fiddle, and fantastic song writing. Billy the Kid, High Lonesome, Carolina (I Remember You), Running With the Crowd, Turned My Head Around, and the catchy Tennessee are notable.
The Charlie Daniels Band, Nightrider: Highlights are Texas, Willie Jones, and the smokin’ jam tune Birmingham Blues. That song puts almost any modern “jam band” to shame.
The Charlie Daniels Band, Fire on the Mountain: His first commercially successful album and one of the best. It hits from the begging with Caballo Diablo, the classics Long Haired Country Boy and The South’s Gonna Do It Again, along with less known tunes Trudy and one of my favorites, Georgia.
Lynyrd Skynyrd, Street Survivors: It was hard to choose one or several Skynyrd albums because they are all good, but I picked the three best in my opinion. Street Survivors is the last studio album before the tragic plane crash in 1978. It cooks and makes you wonder what could have been. They were more polished on this album than any other, and there are no highlights because every song is fantastic. My personal favorites are One More Time, I Never Dreamed, and I Know A Little.
Lynyrd Skynyrd, Second Helping: The most important album of their catalog, but only because of the hit Sweet Home Alabama. Other notable songs include The Ballad of Curtis Lowe, Don’t Ask Me No Questions, and my favorite Workin’ For MCA.
Lynyrd Skynyrd, Pronounced Leh-nerd Skin-nerd: Their first album has some iconic songs, including Free Bird, Simple Man, and Tuesday’s Gone. I prefer I Ain’t The One, a groovy little “Jukin'” tune.
The Allman Brothers Band, The Allman Brothers Band: Their first album is a Southern rock masterpiece. Dreams and Whipping Post are the most famous songs from the album, but their remake of Trouble No More is a classic.
The Allman Brothers Band, Eat a Peach: The album includes three live tracks that showcase their ability as a tour act, including One Way Out, but the best studio song on the album is the breezy Blue Sky, just a great, warm song.
Mama’s Pride, Mama’s Pride: This little known Missouri band’s self-titled debut is a splendid mix of jazz, rock, 70s pop, and blues. There is not a bad song on the record, and the bass player alone is worth the price of the album. The best tune has to be Missouri Sky Line, a groovy blues song that never lets up.
Barefoot Jerry, Southern Delight: Most only know this band from Charlie Daniels’s The South’s Gonna Do It Again. If you are lucky enough to hear them, you’ll know why he mentioned the band in that song. They are like a Southern version of Crosby, Stills, and Nash, only better. My personal favorite is the catchy little tune Smokies, but Hospitality Song, Proud to be a Redneck, and Come To Me Tonight are also fantastic.
Molly Hatchet, Molly Hatchet: This band hit the music scene right about the time Southern rock began to fade a bit, but they were able to mix a Southern sound with blistering guitars and a touch of the new metal scene. Their first album has three superb offerings, Bounty Hunter, Gator Country, and the funky little tune I’ll Be Running.
Molly Hatchet, Flirtin’ With Disaster: Their follow up effort was just as good as the first. The title song is a real rocker, but Long Time is a classic rock ballad.
Molly Hatchet, No Guts, No Glory: This was a reunion album so to speak. Vocalist Danny Jo Brown left the band but came back cut to a hard rocking effort. Sweet Dixie and Fall of the Peacemakers are great, and On the Prowl, complete with a hook laden intro, is a great repeat button candidate.
Blackfoot, Strikes: This album has the hit single Train, Train and is probably the most famous effort from the Florida based band formed by original Skynyrd member Rickey Medlocke. Left Turn on a Red Light is a great ballad, but Road Fever makes the album.
Blackfoot, Marauder: Another solid effort from Blackfoot. This album has the iconic Diary Of A Working Man along with Rattlesnake Rockin’ Roller. I like Good Morning. It is as metal as Southern Rock would get in the 1970s.
Blackfoot, Tomcatin’: This is perhaps the best Blackfoot album. Gimmie, Gimmie, Gimmie and Spendin’ Cabbage are great tunes, but Every Man Should Know (Queenie) is an in your face guitar fest.
The Black Crowes, Shake Your Money Maker: The debut album from the first Southern rock band to have commercial success since the late 1970s is a classic. Raw, gritty, and sounding like it was recorded in a garage, it is a first rate rock album. It had several hits, She Talks to Angels and Hard to Handle foremost among them, but Jealous Again is a real Southern rock song.
The Black Crowes, The Southern Harmony and Musical Companion: This came out when I was in high school, and I heard it hundreds of times when I worked in a record store at the time. They still had those then. The Crowes nailed their Southern roots well with this effort. My Morning Song is one of my all time favorite Crowes tunes.
Blackberry Smoke, Little Piece of Dixie: A new Southern rock band that plays Southern music they way it is meant to be played, Blackberry Smoke is the best traditional Southern rock band around today. This album is good from the first song to the last. They are authentic and not some packaged “Southern” sound to sell records. Up In Smoke is one of the best songs I have heard in a long time.
Shooter Jennings, Electric Rodeo: Waylon Jennings’s son has made a name for himself playing good rock n’ roll fused with country soul. This album is more rock than country and shows his talent as a song writer. Bad Magick is a Zeppelinesque rocker, eerie and intense.
Brother Cane, Brother Cane: This album from Alabama native Damon Johnson starts fast and never lets up. Got No Shame is a powerful Southern rock tune. The harp and guitar solos on the tune are just awesome.
Cry of Love, Diamonds and Debris: This short lived North Carolina band had one of the best Southern rock guitarists of the modern age, Audley Freed. Too bad they couldn’t find commercial success in the age of grunge. Empty Castle is a tune just riddled with hooks and funk.
The Jompson Brothers, The Jompson Brothers: Chris Stapleton is better known for his solo work, his time in the bluegrass band Steel Drivers, and his song writing (Adel among others), but this record is my personal favorite on this list of Southern rock albums. It mixes 70s rock, blues, and metal into a perfect blend of Southern musical bliss, and Stapleton is a fantastic singer. There isn’t much on Youtube by this band, but On the Run is one of the best songs on the album.
Pride and Glory, Pride and Glory: Ozzy Osbourne’s guitarist Zakk Wylde ventured out on his own with this band for one album. He later released a solo album titled Book of Shadows then formed Black Label Society in the late 1990s. Pride and Glory showcases his Southern rock influences. Not bad for a guy from New Jersey. It also shows that the South is a state of mind. Troubled Wine is a mean slide guitar masterpiece.
That’s it. I hope you enjoy the music!