A Lynyrd Skynyrd compilation that doesn't include "Free Bird"? Sounds preposterous, but that's the exact cardinal sin that the 17-track The Collection commits. With such a glut of Skynyrd comps flooding the market place in recent years, the competition is fierce, and this is quite a handicap right off the bat. But what this set does accomplish is spotlight just about every other expected Skynyrd fave, as well as feature a handful of strong tracks that are usually overlooked. Included are the well-known gems that almost single-handedly touched off the "Southern rock explosion" of the late '70s -- "Sweet Home Alabama," "What's Your Name?," "That Smell," "Saturday Night Special," etc. And if you want to dig a bit deeper than just the tracks that have become standards on classic rock radio, this set has some of them, too -- "Swamp Music," "Needle and the Spoon," "Railroad Song," etc. But that's what ultimately hinders this set. By not being either a straight-ahead "best-of" set or a collection of tracks that haven't been included on countless other compilations since Gold & Platinum, it's neither a solid intro for new fans or a neat career summary for longtimers.
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