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Redline Entertainment
Hard Rock
Tom Stewart
3.0 stars

While we are waiting to see if VAN HALEN comes up with the goods now that David Lee Roth is back after a triumphant tour, we have CHICKENFOOT to bridge that gap. Let me come clean here, I am in the DLR camp when it comes to VH, and was never a huge fan of what they did with Sammy Hagar. It didn't suck, but it was a different band to me. I could picture Roth singing some of the stuff on 5150 like "Get Up" and a few others, but VH with Hagar got way too commercial for my liking. There is no denying there were great songs in there, but I hate stuff like "Right Now" sounds like a Pepsi commercial to me....or the theme to ABC's Wide World Of Sports or something. I'm sorry but listen to "Atomic Punk" or "Unchained" then that song and you might see my point. And I like a lot of Hagar's 70s/80s solo output, I loved MONTROSE, so it's not like I hate the guy, I just don't want him in VH that's all. I like Michael Anthony, and I think he gets a bum rap for his role in VH....his background vocals are a big part of their sound. I'm not familiar with Joe Satriani's work beyond hearing a few things off Surfing With The Alien and a few other things, and I am not a fan of THE CHILI PEPPERS at all, so I am looking at CHICKENFOOT with an objective eye, or ear if you will. In other words, I'm looking at this as a new entity.

CHICKENFOOT is Sammy Hagar on vocals, Michael Anthony on Bass and those high background vocals (which I'm scared the absence of them on the upcoming VH album will keep it from sounding like the classic VH), Joe Satriani on guitars, and RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS skinsman and Will Ferrell stunt double Chad Smith on drums. Sounds good on paper, but does it deliver? Yes and no. This is a solid hard rock record....expertly played, hooks, guitar pyrotechnics, just what you'd expect from these guys. I guess that's part of the problem for me. There's a little bit of VH, a little bit of MONTROSE, a little bit of ZEPPELIN, a little of the CHILI PEPPERS , but to me this basically comes off as a really good modern day Sammy Hagar solo album with guest players on it. That's not a knock necessarily, but it's a very typical hard rock record in my eyes. Just look at the song titles and that should be a tip off. I guess with all of the hype around it, with Hagar saying it's the best thing he's ever been involved in, I guess I was expecting to be blown away. I should know by now that EVERY musician thinks the latest thing they've done is the best thing they've ever done. I'm waiting for Simmons and Stanley to talk about how the new KISS album is better than Destroyer like they always do LOL!! Whatever about setting unrealistic expectations! This is not the best thing Hagar has ever been involved with in my opinion. Are you including 5150? The 1st MONTROSE album? Uhhh, you wanna RETHINK that one Sammy?

If you dig VH with Hagar, I'm gonna guess you'll like this record. Runnin' Out is pretty much Best Of Both Worlds from VH redone, with a political message. A song about global warming, or climate change, whatever they are calling it now, is a bit played out and predictable these days fellas. "Soap On A Rope" is very much in the MONTROSE/LED ZEP vein....probably my favorite track on the album. Groove heavy, big riffs, Bonham styled bashing from Chad Smith which is nice to hear. Sounds like he's using a REAL snare drum instead of that tin can snare sound he has on the RHCP stuff. "Avienda Revolucion" is a middle eastern flavored song dealing with the current Mexican drug wars, which I'm sure Hagar has seen 1st hand with his whole Cabo Wabo involvement. "Sexy Little Thing" opens with a CULT-esque riff that runs through it and it morphs into a VH styled commercial hard rocker. "Get It Up" is a dark sounding tune that would be good but the verses are almost a carbon copy of the chorus of "Avienda Revolucion". I'm listening to it going "why does it sound like I just heard this song?" Rule #1-never rip off yourself on the same album unless you're doing a reprise sort of thing. Leadoff single/video is "Oh Yeah", which kinda sounds like what theRHCP would sound like as an 80s Hair Band. The chorus of this song is pretty weak and reminds me of the chorus of "Kickstart My Heart" from MOTLEY CRUE a bit, but the CRUE ripped off the riff for that song from "Hellraiser" by THE SWEET, so there ya go. I would not have picked this as the 1st single at all as it doesn't reflect the quality of the album as a whole. "Soap On A Rope" would have been a great 1st single in my eyes, but I'm not the one paid to make these decisions. "Down The Drain" is a slinky sexy groover with a ZZ TOP vibe to it with very impressive soloing from Satriani, playing in a feel-based, bluesy style that some shredders of his ilk are not really good at. "My Kinda Girl" has a "Long Cold Winter" era CINDERELLA vibe to it.....I could picture Tom Keifer screeching over this one. "Learning To Fall" is the obligatory power ballad, and personally I've had enough power ballads. Why do bands think this is necessary? Or is it the record company pushing for it? Unless you come up with something truly heart-wrenching and beautiful, which is not easy, you should leave this later-day AEROSMITH sort of thing alone. "Turnin' Left" is another RHCP meets VH uptempo funky tune with another very basic uninspiring chorus. Closing out the album is "Future In The Past", which starts out as a ballad then goes into a funky, mid-tempo tune, but it has another middle-eastern flavored breakdown in the middle that sends it off into another direction, building up into an extended jam sort of thing which saves it from being boring. I'd have liked to have seen more of this sort of thing elsewhere on the album to be honest with you, as it would keep my interest a bit more.

Overall, as a modern day hard rock record, I would recommend this to anyone who is into Hagar-era VH or just groove oriented commercial hard rock of the type that gets played on the radio. It has the elements that the average rock fan wants in an album, it's not too deep, the choruses are catchy, if a bit unimaginative, and the playing is top-notch as you would guess. It certainly doesn't live up to the pre-release hype, which was probably not a good idea in hindsight. It's a "supergroup" so there's going to be a certain amount of media hysteria around it obviously, but I was expecting a bit more. In other words, it's probably exactly what you'd expect, which when you are talking about an AC/DC album is a good thing, but I'm not so sure about this. I would certainly take this over almost anything on modern-day rock radio if I had to choose. In a weird sort of way it's nice to hear plain old hard rock again amongst the angry heavy noisy stuff like DISTURBED, GODSMACK, and modern day "chick rock" like HINDER, even if it's not exactly a classic. Could be worse, but could have been so much more.

Band Lineup:
  • Sammy Hagar Vocals
  • Michael Anthony Bass
  • Joe Satriani Guitar
  • Chad Smith -Drums


Track Listing:
  • Avienda Revolucion
  • Soap On A Rope
  • Sexy Little Thing
  • Oh Yeah
  • Runnin' Out
  • Get It Up
  • Down The Drain
  • My Kinda Girl
  • Learning To Fall
  • Turnin' Left
  • Future In The Past

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