Hearing these two albums remastered in state-of-the-art sound is a serious revelation -- bands like this, not to mention Lynyrd Skynyrd
, really thrive in digital playback, with the triple lead guitars (Gary Rossington
, Allen Collins, Barry Harwood) cutting a wide, rich swath around Leon Wilkeson
and Derek Hess' rhythm section while Bill Powell's majestically soulful organ and rippling piano fill out the body of the sound behind the vocals of Harwood and Dale Krantz. Anytime, Anyplace, Anywhere
rode the U.S. charts for six months, mostly because it avoided the pitfall of being "Lynyrd Skynyrd lite" (depend on it; there's nothing "light" on the album). The attack on their instruments was meant to be heard live and, barring that, should at least be heard with the kind of sharpness you get here. From the hardest rocking passages to the lyrical bridge that closes the hook-laden "Don't Misunderstand Me," everything is in sharp relief, and when the wattage jumps up in the main body of "One Good Man," Krantz's vocals pretty much fill the room at medium volume, and the guitars combine into something almost larger than life on the break. This Is the Way
comes off just as well sonically, and the band was trying something new and different here, aiming for a slightly more subtle and complex sound. Allen Collins -- who was all over the first album as a songwriter as well as a player -- contributed far less to this album's compositions (possibly owing to his personal situation growing out of the death of his wife in 1980), but the one song with his shared composing credit, "Gonna Miss It When It's Gone," has such great hooks all the way through and such a beautiful performance by Krantz on lead vocals that it's one of the highlights of the record, which also included the hauntingly beautiful a cappella number "Pine Box." Collins is on the album as a guitarist, and reasonably visible, making for a full complement of guitarists, but it does seem like Powell is much more visible on keyboards for the second album. Purchasers should note that this BGO release was in print at a time when the label was -- very briefly -- issuing very professionally done CD-Rs rather than factory-stamped/pressed CDs; these CD-Rs sound and play just fine, but for those who are concerned, the company says it will send factory-made discs to those who wish to exchange. The mastering and playback are fine, and the clarity certainly beats that of the late '80s-vintage MCA domestic CDs on these titles -- which, in any case, were out of print as of the mid-'90s.