Released on June 5, 2009 (Redline Entertainment)
01. Avenida Revolution
02. Soap On A Rope
03. Sexy Little Thing
04. Oh Yeah
05. Runnin’ Out
06. Get It Up
07. Down The Drain
08. My Kinda Girl
09. Learning To Fall
10. Turnin’ Left
11. Future Is The Past
Vinyl Bonus Track:
12. Bitten By The Wolf
Sammy Hagar – vocals
Joe Satriani – guitar
Michael Anthony – bass
Chad Smith – drums
Produced by Andy Johns.
What do you get when take half of a hugely successful arena rock band, a mega talented solo guitarist and the drummer from a funk-rock, alternative act? A mixed bag, that was quickly called a ‘Supergroup’. For everyone keeping score at home, supergroups rarely live up to the hype, but this one, called Chickenfoot, has all the appropriate ingredients as each member have all had careers that are the definition of success. But can they make good music together?
When I first heard about this band I was cautiously optimistic. I love Sammy Hagar and everything he does. I also happen to think that ‘Mad’ Michael Anthony is an extremely underrated bassist and possibly the best background vocalist of all time. Once you add Joe Satriani the inevitable Van Halen comparisons begin. Toss in the Red Hot Chili Peppers‘ Chad Smith and things get interesting, to say the least.
The first two tracks I heard from Chickenfoot were released via their website a month or so prior to the album’s release. “Soap On A Rope” and “Down The Drain” were early indicators that these guys were for real. The good news? The entire album delivers on the promise of these two songs. Highlights include “Sexy Little Thing” (my favorite track from the album), “Oh Yeah”, “Runnin’ Out”, “Get It Up”, “My Kinda Girl”, “Turnin’ Left” and the aforementioned “Soap On A Rope” and “Down The Drain”.
An initial run through the album might leave the listener feeling as if these are some pretty basic tunes. It’s the second and third time that you start to notice how well crafted all of these songs are – truly a sign of the collective experience of the band’s four members. Guys this age are usually recycling their greatest hits, not writing new songs of any significance.
Prior to hearing any of the songs, I wondered how Satriani would function in a band environment. He’s a wildly talented genius whose ability is totally capable of overwhelming the other elements of a song. The entire band sounds as if they’ve played together for years and Satch‘s playing, while perhaps a tad understated compared to his normal style, is quite possibly his best. Upon multiple trips through the album you start to notice these subtle, yet brilliant touches that he scatters throughout the songs.
Another highlight of the album comes courtesy of Michael Anthony. His trademark background vocals are, of course, heard throughout the album, but it’s his bass playing that is the real treat. I’ve always thought of him as a very capable musician, but he’s taken his craft to a new level with Chickenfoot. This is the best bass playing of his career.
Confirming my belief that in the last 10 years album production has become something of a lost art, Andy Johns does a superb job of capturing this band’s layers of sound. Lately, it sounds as if every album that is released has passed through the same filter, yielding a very familiar, yet bland computer generated sound. There are so many subtleties to uncover on this album that at some point earphones are required. A sound this warm and three dimensional hasn’t been heard in years.
Sammy Hagar made a statement comparing Chickenfoot to Led Zeppelin, but he later retracted this statement, claiming he was drunk. I’m not sure who to compare the band to because, to me, they have a sound all their own. I refuse to compare them to Van Halen. If anything it sounds like four guys who really like each other got together and made an album. To that I say, job well done and what took them so long?
www.chickenfoot.us – www.myspace.com/thechickenfoot
Reviewed by Hairspray Hero for Sleaze Roxx, June 2009.