Tuesday, June 16, 2009

CD Review - Chickenfoot

I bought the new Chickenfoot CD partly because I liked the sound clips found in the YouTube montage fellow blogger Dr John posted. And partly because I wanted to check out the neato disappearing black ink packaging (it is very cool).

But I have been surprised at how strong an album this is, if you like guitar-based rock and roll (and who doesn't?). Right out of the gate, the first song Avenida Revolucion sets the stage for what you get on this CD. Namely, lots of shredding guitar and screamy Sammy Hagar vocals to a super solid backbeat.

But despite my initial impression, this is not a Van Halen soundalike band.

Some of Hagar's vocal approach leans on the Van Halen years but for the most part his work is standing on its own. And he mostly avoids the VH cliche vocal breakdowns "Come on fellas..." Instead, he goes into Jim Morrison-esque spoken word passages a couple of times.

Hagar is also kind of restrained with the 'party and hump chicks' lyrics, but let's be honest - it's a "good time" album, lyric-wise. As usual, Hagar's voice is in fine form and he delivers like you'd expect.

And yeah Satriani owes a lot to EVH, but he has taken the style into different areas. Truthfully, he is pretty restrained on this release. Oh yeah, it's shredaliscious, but only where it needs to be. The rest of the time, he plays some great tasty licks. I hear some Stevie Ray in there, and even his peers Neal Schon and Eric Johnson too. Overall his guitar tones are punchy and present. 

I don't have a lot of Satriani's stuff, because I stayed away from the shredding thing back in the 80s. But he really shines in a group context and is this band's secret weapon. Very impressive.

The songs are mostly based around interesting, sometimes heavy rock riffs. In fact, I hear almost as much Tony Iommi and Jimmy Page on this CD as I do EVH. You just know that Satriani brought in kick ass riffs, to which Hagar laid down catchy rock and roll vocals and everyone said 'Yeah!" 

The other great element is the rhythm section of Michael Anthony and Chad Smith. I have never liked the Red Hot Chili Peppers and always thought they were amazingly overrated (still do). But I have to admit that I am now a very big fan of Chad Smith, who lays down behind-the-beat grooves with just the right amount of Bonham fills. And Michael Anthony is right there doubling the complex licks (unless Satriani did the bass lines too).

I always hated how the Van Hagar era production always buried Anthony's bass. But it's very present on this CD, which helps it kick along.

Of course when Anthony sings back-up, we get that Van Hagar vocal sound, which is great. But I rarely thought the band sounded anything like Van Halen. To me, they are a kick ass hard rock band made up of very skilled musicians who are clearly clicking. I'd give this an 8.5 out of 10 and would recommend getting it if you dig any of these guys' former bands.


Dr. John said...

Isorski - Glad you liked the CD. I enjoyed it too. I wouldn't say it is one of my classics that I will always seem to come back to, but a good listen nonetheless. I do have to disagree, though, about the VH similarities. To me there were a lot of VH similarities, but what do I know? Take care!

Barbara(aka Layla) said...

Great review! I wish I could review things so well. MY review: I like it.

And I do like it.