After nearly 40 years screaming, strutting and shaking his barnet all over the world it seems Sammy Hagar is in a good place. With Sammy it's all about hanging with your buddies and drinking and jamming in the sun. His new platter, 'Sammy Hagar & Friends' is the soundtrack for just that.
The eponymous 'friends' include collaborators spanning Sammy's long and varied career, with bandmates from Montrose, HSAS, Van Halen (no, not the brothers - the other one) and Chickenfoot. Also popping up are Kid Rock, Taj Mahal, Heart's Nancy Wilson, Toby Keith and Ronnie Dunn of Brooks and Dunn.
Opener 'Winding Down' is a country/blues footstomper that finds Hagar in fine voice as he Taj Mahal lament this crazy world, the state it's in and it's slew of bad news.
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'Not Going Down' was written for Sammy by Rival Sons' Jay Buchanan and has a dirty grungy riff, some sweet slide and a pugnacious vocal channelling some Raging Bull-esque brio.
Ever wondered what Depeche Mode's 'Personal Jesus' would sound like with some gospel style backing vocals and the Red Rocker's trademark rasp? Wonder no more! As a bit of a novelty it's interesting but adds nothing to the album and comes nowhere close to the original. Next track 'Father Sun' has an overpowering accordion (really) that doesn't gel with the rocking parts of the song and one get's the feeling that this album is beginning to lose it's way.
Never fear, for here comes 'Knockdown Dragout' to kick us back into the ring with Kid Rock and Joe Satriani to provide some bark and bite to accompany Sammy's snarl. Bob Seger's 'Ramblin' Gamblin' Man' gets a rocking treatment with the original's organ replaced by a guitar that is reminiscent of Gun's cover of 'Word Up'. This is a good thing, trust me.
After a brief jaunt through the Southern states with Ronnie Dunn for 'Bad On Fords And Chevrolets', a rollicking tale of ne'er-do-wells with a love of fast cars and fast wimmin, Sam is back at the beach for a couple of Hawaiian-style tropical sundowners. Firstly with Toby Keith on 'Margaritaville' then with Nancy Wilson for sweet duet 'All We Need Is An Island' which will have you yearning for the sand between your toes and a drink in your hand.
Tenth and final track is a live in the studio cover of well trodden Don Nix song 'Going Down' (also covered by Albert King, Jeff Beck, Pearl Jam to name a few of many) belted out with gusto and perhaps some of Sammy's Cabo Wabo tequila in their bellies by the revamped HSAS which comprises Hagar, Journey's Neal Schon with Michael Anthony and Chad Smith replacing bassist Kenny Aaronson and drummer Michael Shrieve. So it's basically Chickenfoot with Neal Schon instead of Joe Satriani whose surname initial could have also made Chickenfoot HSAS! Weird eh?
All in all 'Sammy Hagar & Friends' is somewhat patchy stylistically but Hagar's distinctive voice and personality carries it through the odd bump in the road. Sammy's having fun and that's all he cares about right now so pour yourself a tall one and join in! Bottoms up!