The Essential Red Collection

Sammy Hagar

In the midst of his celebrated reunion with Van Halen, Sammy Hagar rolls out a red carpet of hits. How timely The Essential Red Collection should come along. If anything, it proves just how valuable an asset Hagar is as both a solo artist and band member. Ronnie Montrose, the first guitarist who named a group after himself and hired Hagar to sing, is undoubtedly all too aware of that. The roar of “Bad Motor Scooter” is a classic example of early 70s hard rock, a prototype for the aforementioned Van Halen and the fallout of tousled-haired arena filibusters. I've always wondered why the original Montrose band didn’t ascend to greater heights. Apparently, it wasn’t able to contain Hagar from stepping out on his own. Early stirrings are earmarked by the appearance of “Thinking Of You” and “Call My Name,” previously unreleased and practically unremarkable in their position as a steady bridge to “Red.” Hagar’s simple anthem about what must be his favorite color, “Red” would become a calling card of sorts, a marketing tool employed in pushing guitars, tequila, even this very CD. Very clever, indeed. From here on out, the golden nuggets keep booming out of the speakers – “I’ve Done Everything For You” (a Top Ten hit for Rick Springfield), “I’ll Fall In Love Again,“ “There’s Only One Way To Rock” and the anarchic “I Can’t Drive 55.” The disc is rounded out by more recent material from the late 90s, including “Little White Lie” and “Marching To Mars,” a spunky little ditty Hagar penned with Marin County neighbor/Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart. Whether by design or coincidence, The Essential Red Collection may not have all the answers, but it sure beats lip-syncing and jigging on Saturday Night Live.

~ Shawn Perry

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