The Red Rocker reveals there is another primary colour in his musical make-up and that colour is Blue. Sammy Hagar and friends is a hugely enjoyable collection of songs featuring a group of eclectic and esteemed guests from Taj Mahal to Kid Rock.
The album mixes a number of styles from straight ahead rock through Blues to soul and gospel and for the most part the results and very positive with a few absolute standouts.
The album gets off to a flying start with Hagar joined by Blues Maestro Taj Mahal on a laid back, easy on the ear Blues romp with the two deep rich vocals combining perfectly. Hagar's take on the Depeche Mode staple Personal Jesus will no doubt polarise opinion, with most comparisons being drawn with the Johnny Cask cover. Me, I love it. Hagar takes it from a synth drenched sound to one with some jagged cutting licks from the always excellent Neil Schon. The Gospel phrased vocal adds deep texture.
The album really hits top gear in the middle section with Knockdown Dragout delivering a piledriving riff throughout and Hagar and Kid Rock matching it with aggressive vocals. Bob Seger's Ramblin Gamblin Man follows on with a 70s southern boogie groove, fast licks and pounding drums and excellent backing vocals. The stakes are raised even higher with an absolute trademark Hagar rocker in the shape of Bad on Fords and Chevrolets. This is real pedal to the floor stuff. Superfast dual riffing and scintillating solos between Hagar and Vic Johnson jumping all over some rock solid drum and bass runs. This is real top down, shades on and hit the road stuff, brilliant.
Before the almost apocalyptic album closers we are treated to some real soulful sounds from Sammy and Toby Keith covering Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville. Closely followed by some stunning pedal steel guitar on All We Need is an Island.
Going Down is much loved and much covered but this is a classic version, possibly the heaviest version you will ever hear. Hagar is joined again by Neil Schon and the pair combine to deliver real six string pyrotechnics. Jackhammer riffs and monstrous solos giving the song a live in the studio sound.
Rounding the whole lot off in real style is a live version of the seminal Montrose classic Space Station NO:5 a fitting tribute to Ronnie. Hagar is joined by Chickenfoot buddy Joe Satriani and it is clear these two now have a telepathy as they slug it out throwing lead breaks and shard like solos at each other. It reminds you just what a monstrous metal band Montrose were!
If you do elect to buy the album, do buy the deluxe edition as you get a DVD thrown in but best of all is the packaging, triple gatefold, some great pictures and hugely interesting sleevenotes.
Why would Hagar worry about Van Halen anymore, he is having the last laugh.
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