Album review: 38 SPECIAL – Wild Eyed Southern Boys and Special Forces (2021 Vinyl Remasters)

Snakefarm Records [Release date 30.07.21]

In 2008, a major fire in Universal Studios’ Hollywood Warehouse devastated the company’s music archives. 38 Special were one of the bands to suffer a significant loss…and if nothing else, that gives these releases added resonance.

The master tapes of Wild Eyed Southern Boys, and Special Forces – two of the band’s definitive rock albums of the eighties – escaped destruction. And it’s hard not get excited when you further discover that they have now been dusted down and polished up using today’s cutting edge technology, and subsequently re-committed to vinyl.

The original releases, in 1981 and 82 (effectively their fourth and fifth albums) had signalled a game changing shift in style for the band. Vocalists/guitarists Donnie Van Zant and Don Barnes had the foresight to see which way the rock’n'roll wind was blowing. And so these two albums were a mix of Southern Rock’s storytelling tradition and the ascendant Stadium Rock emanating from the US westcoast.

Producer Rodney (Lynyrd Skynyrd/Gregg Allman/Doobie Bros) Mills drafted in acknowledged genre giant, Jim (Survivor) Peterik, to add his commercial nous to the band’s songwriting approach. Several singles popped out of each recording.

‘Caught Up In You’, ‘You Keep Runnin Away’, ‘Fantasy Girl’ and ‘Hold On Loosely’, were all fully formed blasts of hard driving southern rock tempered with accessible hooks and catchy choruses. They all charted, pushing album sales up into multi platinum territory.

These remasters sound fresh and new. As always, it’s a band’s early stuff that benefits most from remastering, with vinyl buffs and audiophiles being the target audience.

The early eighties are not well known for durable recording technology. Given that, this remastering is all the more impressive. Maintaining the warmth and depth of those original analogue recordings, while at the same time achieving a surprising amount of sonic separation and loudness, is quite some feat.

The main beneficiary is lead guitarist Jeff Carlisi. Almost every track is laced with his razor sharp, cranked up axework, and there’s just enough friction in that transfer from vinyl to needle to create an extra frisson of excitement in our auditory perception.

Job done, as the saying goes. ****1/2

Review by Brian McGowan

The latest Josh Taerk live session was streamed on Sunday 12 December. The session above was a Halloween Special streamed on 31 October 2021. Josh’s next session is Sunday 30 January 2022.

Check out previous videos here:

David Randall presents a weekly show on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio, Sundays at 22:00 GMT, repeated on Mondays and Fridays), when he invites listeners to ‘Assume The Position’. This show was first broadcast on 19 December 2021 and celebrates The Best of 2021 based on the GRTR! reviewer selections and popular poll results.

UK Blues Broadcaster of the Year (2020 and 2021 Finalist) Pete Feenstra presents his weekly Rock & Blues Show on Tuesday at 19:00 GMT as part of a five hour blues rock marathon “Tuesday is Bluesday at GRTR!”. The show is repeated on Wednesdays at 22:00, Fridays at 20:00). This show was first broadcast 26 December 2021 and features show highlights from the year (Part 1).

How to Listen Live?

Click the programming image at the top of the page (top right of page if using desktop)

Listen via Windows Media Player. Click or tap here and “open file”
Listen via other media player (eg. VLC) Click or tap here and “open file”

Get Ready to ROCK! Radio is also in iTunes under Internet Radio/Classic Rock
Listen in via the Tunein app and search for “Get Ready to ROCK!” and save as favourite.

More information and links at our radio website where you can listen again to shows via the presenter pages:

Power Plays w/c 10 January (Mon-Fri)
SMOKING MARTHA Wild & Free (Xelon Entertainment)
TRUE NORTH Fix (Out Of Line Music)
COLLECTED Say When (indie)
ABOUT KINGS Heaven On Down The Highway (indie)
WHALEDOG Leave Me Alone (indie)
LED BY LANTERNS Six Feet Down (indie)
KROOKED TONGUE Freaky Love (indie)

Featured Albums w/c 10 January (Mon-Fri)
09:00-12:00 BITE THE BULLET End Of The Line (Escape Music)
12:00-13:00 CRYSTAL BALL Crysteria (Massacre Records)
14:00-16:00 SEAN TAYLOR The Beat Goes On (indie)

Popular (last 30 days)

This entry was posted in ALBUM REVIEWS, ALBUM REVIEWS (Mobile), ALL POSTS, Reissues and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply