Foghat Live II


Thirty years after their two-million selling Foghat Live lit up the rock radio airwaves, you can't really say Foghat has returned, because they never really went away. Foghat is still keepin' on — touring and recording into their 37th year and after the passing of founding members Dave Peverett and Rod Price. Old Foghat alumni and friends Charlie Huhn and Bryan Bassett now fill in for Peverett and Price, with former member Craig MacGregor once again returning to play bass. Led by drummer Roger Earl, the 2007 version of Foghat still has that classic blues-rock slide guitar sound. Their latest release is both a throwback to their 1970s heyday and a glimpse into the future of one of the most enduring bands in rock history. Recorded live in El Cajon, California, Foghat Live II is their 17th album in 37 years. The two-disc's 20 tracks include bonus rehearsal versions of "Slow Ride" and new studio recordings like "Trouble, Trouble."

With the simple announcement, "Ladies and gentleman... would you please welcome... Foghat!" the band kicks into a riff-heavy "Night Shift" from 1976 and segues into fan favorites "Take Me To The River" and "Stone Blue." Earl's choice of former Ted Nugent vocalist Charlie Huhn is a fitting choice for the new Foghat — Huhn croons and preens like it is still the 70s, and works a crowd like Nugent himself. At only 1:05 in length, the slide guitar solo "Slippin' & Slidin'" shows Bassett can still work a guitar neck with the best of the classic rock guitar greats. Perhaps the highlight of the first disc is the blues standard "Terraplane Blues," written by legendary blues man Robert Johnson. Bassett's soulful slide work blends perfectly with Huhn's white-boy-bluesy wail with Earl and MacGregor carrying the rock backbeat rhythm.

"Bang, Bang" is Earl's "Sir Noisy Sod" alter ego's chance to pound out a two-minute drum solo — just the right length compared to Led Zeppelin's John Bonham drum solos, some of which could ramble on mercilessly for a half-hour or more. "Bang, Bang" flows right into the 1975 FM radio classic "Fool For The City" to close out the disc. The line, "I ain't no country boy, just a homesick man" sounds as timely in 2007 as it did all those years ago as Earl and the band still make their living as a touring band.

"California Blues" stands tall as a slow, arena rock blues teaser as it tumbles into one of Foghat's signature songs, "I Just Want to Make Love to You." The Willie Dixon-penned track lumbers in with that sexy, slinking bass line and is met by the back-and-forth guitar-talk it's famous for. "Slow Ride" plows in as a reminder of what made — and still makes — Foghat one of the great blues-rock bands of all time. New songs including "I'm A Rock n' Roller" and "Self-Medicated" hold their own alongside the best of Foghat then and now. "Road Fever," from their 1973 self-titled album, is a fine salute to fallen Foghat members, and a tantalizing look ahead for the band: "Well I'm back on the road and I ain't gonna stop/Gonna roll 'til I'm old, gonna rock 'til I drop..."

~ Carl Cunningham

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