Friday, September 30, 2011

Review: Chickenfoot “III”

Sammy Hagar’s supergroup vehicle Chickenfoot is back with their second record called “III”. Didn’t some other band in Hagar’s history release a record of that same name? Hmmm…anyway, “III” is the follow up to the self-titled debut from 2009 (reviewed here). It is nice to see these veterans of rock out of the coop and ready to take another swing at saving rock and roll. For the uninitiated, Chickenfoot is composed of one half Van Hagar (Sammy Hagar and Michael Anthony), guitar wizard Joe Satriani, and Red Hot Chili Pepper drummer Chad Smith.

“III” is one of those records we would refer to as a “one-sider” back in the day. If these ten (actually 11) songs were split on an LP, the first half would clearly be the superior one. Seriously…the first half of “III” really brings it. The album rips into high gear with the sultry guitar power of “Last Temptation” – lush with power chords and crunch, this song is a comfort zone for Hagar’s impressive roar. The party continues with the sing-a-long “Alright Alright”, featuring great harmonies from Anthony that induce Van Hagar flashbacks. But “Different Devil” is probably my favorite track. While slower in pace, the song is beautifully written and performed – would have been a huge hit back in the 80s. “Up Next” cranks things back up and is one of those songs where the verses are actually better than the chorus.

What makes the first half of the record work so well is that the guys wrote great hooks into the songs. That really can’t be said of the second half, which is more aloof and experimental with exception of an arena ready standard in “Big Foot”. “Come Closer” is a fairly nondescript ballad that even the well done harmonies cannot save. “Three and a Half Letters” is an interesting piece, with spoken word verses and a simplistic chorus. I like the concept of the song, which features timely lyrics about the unemployment rate, but there is something incredulous about Cabo Wabo dwelling Hagar singing “I Need A Job”. “Something Going Wrong” is another tune that just didn’t live up to its promise – an acoustic-based track from these guys was a pleasant surprise, but there just isn’t a good hook to be found here.

The band called their second record “III” because they claim, with irreverent immodesty, it is too good to be a sophomore release. “III” is certainly better than the debut in my opinion, but not that much better…”II ½” would have been more appropriate. While all the guys sound in top form, the MVP is clearly Satriani, who makes guitar solos sexy again.

By the way, I got the deluxe edition which contains a cool DVD about the making of the record. It is also worth splurging for since it is printed in 3D. It comes with 3D glasses so you can view the eye popping cover art and photos of the band members – really wild!

iPOD-worthy: 1, 2, 3, 4, 8

ChickenfootOfficial site.

Check out the video for “Big Foot”