The Greatest Songs From .38 Special
.38 Special in concert, 1999 - Jose Luis / Youtube
One of the more “obscure” southern rock acts were .38 Special. The American rock outfit was established in 1974, and dabbled with innovating the hard rock sound, until they found a sweet spot for their music. Driving hard rock arrangements with melodic, pop-oriented accents became the band’s specialty in the following decade, signalling the proliferation of arena rock, with anthems that are easy to ride on due to their inherent simplicity. Donnie Van Zant sang quite a different tune from his brothers Ronnie and Johnny, but it’s all for the better. Here are some of .38 Special’s seminal tracks.
“Second Chance” – Rock & Roll Strategy (1989)
“Second Chance” heralded the band’s change of heart, from their southern rock sound, to a more pop-oriented, yeat guitar driven distinction. With a heartfelt vocal from Max Carl, the track made its way to the 6th place of the Hot 100 and topped the Adult Contemporary charts.
“Deja Voodoo” – Resolution (1997)
Another surprise twist from the band, “Deja Voodoo” emitted a heavy atmosphere with its cumbersome southern blues base. .38 Special seemed to have aimed at reconciling with their past, especially with 7 years of inactivity before the album’s release. Still then, the track is reminiscent of the band’s roots, and made for a fitting comeback.
“Fantasy Girl” – Wild-Eyed Southern Boys (1981)
A testament to .38 Specials uncanny ability to concoct ear-friendly melodies that are driven by a raging guitar sound, “Fantasy Girl” features a powerful vocal performance by Don Barnes that complemented the arrangement quite nicely. The contrasting qualities are mellowed down by a hint of Southern rock goodness, and are augmented by the dual riff crossing paths to become one of the most memorable hits by the band.
“Hold On Loosely” – Wild-Eyed Southern Boys (1981)
Containing one of the most memorable riff progressions in rock music, “Hold On Loosely” is a hypnotic rock masterpiece that is fueled by a repeating rise in chord placement, offering really good high points that concludes in satisfying fashion. Audience participation is a must-have for this catchy tune.
“Caught Up In You” – Special Forces (1982)
Undeniably one of the band’s greatest successes, “Caught Up In You” is laid in an infectious rock arrangement and a pleasurable buildup of vocal and guitar melodies, evident of .38 Special’s leanings toward the pop sound. Taking sappy, romance-infested themes to a new high, the track is a culmination of the era’s arena-rock indulgence, giving what the crowds wanted satisfactorily.