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CHICKENFOOT Chickenfoot earMusic (2009)

Chickenfoot

Whatever your views on the merits of a super group, this album rocks.

From the opening Satch guitar squall and Chad Smith's pounding drum pattern to Sammy Hagar's exclamatory 'hey you' yell, on 'Crossing the Borderline' this is an album that bursts at the seams.

And with a stellar line-up of Joe Satriani, Sammy Hagar and a pulsating rhythm section of Chad Smith and Michael Anthony you are never going to get less than full commitment. But misquoted Hagar comments about this band being bigger than Zeppelin aside, this is one powerful combo with enough good songs and collective fire in the belly to impress even the most cynical rock fan.

Indeed it should be noted that Hagar puts in an incredible shift for a 60 year old, while Satriani's playing is the perfect foil for a band that over the course of 11 tracks quickly forges its own style.

Chickenfoot

For make no mistake, this is no Hagar and friends album. Sure he and Satch have some priceless moments but this is a collective shit kicking band as evidenced by 'Soap on a Rope'.

Sure there are echoes of the Plant/Page axis but hey this is a hard rock combo after all, and these guys rip it up as evidence by the powerful playing and poignant lyrics of 'Running Out'. This is one of a surprisingly high quotient of songs with lyrical messages.

So while the sing-along hooks might be in place there's more to the album than clichés and virtuoso solos. That said, 'Running Out' does let Satch cut lose with a blistering solo and he adds some killer pile driving riffs to 'Get It Up'.

Perhaps the most significant thing about this album is that Joe has finally achieved a career goal of finding a vocal led band that can accommodate his startling playing and song writing abilities. There is even a moment of priceless spontaneity on 'Down the Drain', when Joe works up his most grungiest groove and Sammy yells across to him 'is that that new thing Joe? It better be', before concluding, 'is that it Joe, but that's cool though'. Sammy then launches into one of his most bone crushing vocals and the tension is broken by the two line chorus. Brilliant stuff.

And there's even room for 'Learning To Fly Again', a cute rock ballad on which Sammy alters his vocal attack as much as anyone with his gut bursting lungs could. And as if to restore a sense of balance, the band subsequently rock out with real vigour on the back of some lightning Satch riffs on 'Turning Left Again'. Frankly if this track alone doesn't light your fuse, you are past it! All the ingredients are there from the pounding rhythm section to Satch's incredible guitar lines - including an occasional judicious scratch - to Hagar's venomous vocals. Hell, he even affects a Gillan scream three quarters of the way through. Just killer stuff!

The closing track 'Future in the Past' finds Hagar slipping into a Pete Townsend style refrain as Satch weaves his magical spell for an anthemic ending to a great album.

As the band name suggests these guys seem to be genuinely doing this for fun with perhaps the accompanying aim of kick starting some fresh creativity. Whatever their motives 'Chickenfoot' the album, is a raging success and the live shows should be stunning.

*****

Review by Pete Feenstra

Best of 2009

 


Album review (Deluxe ed.)

Video interview

 


Get Ready to ROCK! Radio Features Editor Pete Feenstra talks to Joe Satriani about the album

(Real Audio Player required)


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***** Out of this world | **** Pretty damn fine |
*** OK, approach with caution unless you are a fan |
** Instant bargain bin fodder | * Ugly. Just ugly

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