Livin' It Up

Sammy Hagar

At this juncture, the Van Halen debacle may be a lost cause. Just don’t tell Sammy Hagar because he could care less. He’s too busy partying, drinking tequila, hanging out in Cabo San Lucas, and enjoying the hell out of life. From the seaside sweltering cover art to the songs themselves — Livin’ It Up, his latest CD, is a hedonistic hayride without the advent of invention or self-importance to distinguish itself from the packs of CDs competing for the ears and eyes of a discriminating public. Flipping the finger in the face of formality, Hagar and his band the Wabos slip off their shoes, shake their salt, and take their shots any way they come.

Starting off, “Sam Am I” is an unapologetic declaration that could be easily construed as a slamming disparagement directed at one Edward Van Halen. Hagar claims he “tried to be your ice cream man/I could not be your soldier/ Or even drive your bus/My skills weren't always that obvious,” but the tune’s lighthearted, irreverent approach ultimately dispels any animosity on the singer’s part. After all, he’s “just a hopeless case/And I ain't no lawyer/I only got a few tricks I can show ya.” With that off his chest, Hagar proceeds to trip the light fantastic, detailing his present lifestyle on such feel-good ditties as “Living In A Coastline,” and “The Way We Live.” And just to show he isn’t alone, he invites country crooner Toby Keith's “I Love This Bar” and Bob Dylan's “Rainy Day Women #12 & 35” to the party and roundly turns the whole disc into a weenie-roasting, marshmallow-melting beach bash beyond reproach.

Throughout, Hagar resorts to a laid back style that could lead to speculation that his hard rocking days are numbered. The twang behind of “I Love This Bar,” along with “Halfway To Memphis” and “Some Day,” may be a sign of things to come. Then there's “One Sip,” (co-written by Hagar with country hitmaker Kenny Chesney) which feels more like a commercial jingle for Cabo Wabo tequila than a true musical statement. At least "Let Me Take You There," despite a blatant lift of its rollicking chorus from the Staple Singer’s “I'll Take You There,” reveals there’s still some of residual firepower resonating in the Red Rocker’s ample bones. But for anyone looking to kick in the door and relive the glory days of “Bad Motor Scooter” and “Poundcake,” take note — Sammy Hagar is apparently on permanent vacation and livin' it up with no plans to return to the battle-scarred frontlines of hard rock.

~ Shawn Perry

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