Having enjoyed a lot of what Sammy Hagar brought to the musical table over the years as a solo artist and even once in awhile during his tenure as the singer of Van Halen, I had to say that I was rather looking forward to his first solo album since 2000 – then I began to spin it. Now I know that this sounds a bit harsh but what I am getting at is that the record failed to excite me as soon as it began and I had really expected an industry veteran such as Sammy to be able to do that right from the beginning and he did not. The album is called Cosmic Universal Fashion and it kicks off with its quasi-electronic/dance oriented beat opening title track that made me scratch my head a little and wonder if the remainder of the album would be along the same line. A slow groove comes via "Psycho Vertigo" which while a decent tune still was not snaring me by the throat as the listener and it would not be until the third and fourth tracks "Peephole" and "Loud" that any semblance of interest and tapping toes would come to me as I played the disc at some healthy volume to get the point a little better. "Peephole" has an interesting guitar riff and comes off as a racing and twisting tune that is quite appealing but then I remembered that these two tracks were originally delivered by the "super group" he formed in 2002 with Neil Schon which essentially made them come off as covers of his own earlier work with a lot less luster. The winner comes by way of "Loud" which really would have served Sammy well had he chosen to open the new album with it. There is almost a Grand Funk Railroad feel to it ala "American Band" and it's a track that I feel should be played louder than most of the other offerings on the release.
What came up next literally scared the wits out of me and that was Hagar's rendition of the Beastie Boys' "Fight for Your Right to Party". To me the song is one about youthful rebellion and not something that I am comfortable finding Sammy delivering to me based on some of the tunes lyrics. I think most readers would agree that life is pretty bad if you are some four decades into your own existence and your Mom throws away your best porno mag. That being said the momentum build up by track three and four is slowed down again with the "I'm sitting on a beach" feel of "When The Sun Don't Shine". I took this as Hagar doing his best Jimmy Buffett, and maybe if I was sitting at the bar at Cabo with a margarita that I might have liked it a little more. Two more winners are to be found in the slightly funky "24365" and "I'm On A Roll" (which amounts to the heaviest tune on the release) but by the time we get to that one the unevenness of the album had taken its toll on me and I was looking for something a little more satisfying. The album would close with a very slow live and acoustic rendition of Van Halen's "Dreams" which had also blended the song "Cabo" into it for whatever reason. For me this was a terrible closer as the VH tune is a rousing number that is loaded with promise and positive energy but done acoustically it just failed to work for me and was rather ponderous. When the CD stopped spinning I really found myself wanting some good old fashioned Rock and Roll that I knew this man was capable of delivering but had failed to act upon at so many turns on the new release. I was not expecting "There's Only One Way To Rock" or "I Can't Drive 55" at this stage of the game but I would have liked to have heard something along the line of those Hard Rock staples that could have made this a far better album. Fans of the man are instructed to tread carefully when looking into this one because there are more low points than high ones and as result we advise that one investigate the tracks we found of interest on one of the legitimate download services as opposed to venturing into those which put fear into our musical heart. For absolute Sammy Hagar diehards essentially.
1. Cosmic Universal Fashion
2. Psycho Vertigo
5. Fight For Your Right To Party
6. Switch On The Light
7. When The Sun Don't Shine
9. I'm On A Roll