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Hagar, Sammy: Sammy Hagar and Friends

I've always been on the periphery of Sammy Hagar's career. I'm too young to remember Montrose and have never felt the urge to find out about them. I don't…like any incarnation of Van Halen, sorry but it's true and until this album I've never properly listened to any of his solo output either. Don't get me started on how dull I find Chickenfoot either.

Whilst this album won't make me rush out and hoover up his entire back catalogue I like the laid back vibe which permeates throughout the whole thing. The ten tracks are a combination of new songs and covers and some of the friends who pop up are very interesting such as country star Ronnie Dunn on "Bad on Fords and Chevrolets". I've seen some scathing comments about this song in particular but it typifies the good time nature of this concise but joyful record.

Whilst I can live without ever hearing another cover of Depeche Mode's "Personal Jesus" the take on Bob Seger's "Ramblin' Gamblin' Man" has been in heavy rotation on my generic music device since the day I first heard it. If I were to compare Sammy Hagar and Friends to any other album it would be After the Reign by Blackfoot in which Rickey Medlocke took a similar approach to classic songs. I imagine this album will be met by a similar collective shrug by the world at large but it is an enjoyable platter by an artist letting his hair down with his rock'n'roll chums and I'll let you find out for yourselves who the others are apart from Ronnie Dunn.

Track Listing:

  1. Winding Down
  2. Not Going Down
  3. Personal Jesus
  4. Father Sun
  5. Knockdown Dragout
  6. Ramblin' Gamblin' Man
  7. Bad on Fords and Chevrolets
  8. Margaritaville
  9. All We Need Is an Island;
  10. Going Down (Live In Studio-Take 1)
  11. Space Station #5 (Live From Ronnie Montrose Tribute Concert) (Bonus Track - Deluxe Edition only)

Added: October 12th 2013
Reviewer: Simon Bray
Related Link: Artist Website
Hits: 1470
Language: english

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Hagar, Sammy: Sammy Hagar and Friends
Posted by Steven Reid, SoT Staff Writer on 2013-10-12 15:33:31
My Score:

What started out as an attempt to gather together the cream of the wide and varied catalogue of Sammy Hagar, quickly evolved when certain ex-band mates refused to allow their ex-singer to plunder their collective works; becoming instead an opportunity to cover favourite songs and specially written tracks with some of Mr Hagar's musical friends. So rather than celebrate the actual songs that have graced his career, Sammy has instead tried to create vibes which celebrate the "sound" of his previous outfits, Montrose, HSAS, Van Halen and of course a varied solo career.

Three of the four self penned tracks reveal a surprisingly laid back Sammy, "Winding Down", which is a collaboration with Taj Mahal, "Father Son", where Hagar junior, Aaron, duets superbly with his Dad and "All We Need Is An Island", where Heart's Nancy Wilson adds a classy vocal, being laid back strolls through almost Country, Eagles, or Mexicana territory. Sammy sings them beautifully and the vibe they send out is irresistible in a carefree kind of way. The last of the originals on offer arrives in the Sports anthem "Knockdown Dragout", where Kid Rock shares vocals while Chicken-mate Joe Satriani hammers the frets and ex-Montroser Denny Carmassi slams the skins. It is big dumb stuff, but bags of fun and catchy as hell.

The covers however would appear to be splitting opinions, Depeche Mode's "Personal Jesus" with Neal Schon of Journey, Michael Anthony bassist with Hagar in Halen and Chickenfoot and drummer in the latter Chad Smith, becoming an odd Bluesy Gospel hand clap and a real weak link on this album. While "Margaritaville", originally by Jimmy Buffet, adds to the laid back atmosphere created elsewhere in surprisingly fine style. However the take on Bob Segers' "Gamblin' Ramblin' Man" convinces from the off, even if it has been thoroughly Samitised.

The Ronnie Dunn written ZZ Top like (Billy Gibbons gets a name check in the lyrics) "Bad On Fords And Chevrolets" rocks things up in fine style, while the jammed out version of "Going Down", again with Schon, Anthony and Smith is the kind of grinding groove Sammy thrives on. For some, the most interesting track on this collection "Not Going Down" reunites Hagar with the surviving members of where it all began for the guitar playing frontman, Montrose; Carmassi and bassist Bill Church teaming up for a track that is a fitting tribute to their much missed band-mate Ronnie Montrose. The trio nicely representing the Bluesy cool that made and still makes that band, the respected outfit they were and still are.

Yes, there's the vibe that Sammy Hagar And Friends is a bit of all-star knockabout fun, but that doesn't stop it from also being a confident and varied collection that will put a smile on the face of anyone with a passing interest in American Hard Rock of many varieties. That Hagar is still making music as good as this (and Chickenfoot) this late in his career is reason enough to raise a tequila in the man's honour.

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