Chickenfoot – s/t (2009)

Chickenfoot - self-titled (2009)

Chickenfoot – s/t (2009, Redline Entertainment)

  1. Avenida Revolution
  2. Soap On A Rope
  3. Sexy Little Thing
  4. Oh Yeah
  5. Runnin’ Out
  6. Get It Up
  7. Down The Drain
  8. My Kinda Girl
  9. Learning To Fall
  10. Turnin’ Left
  11. Future In The Past
  12. Bitten By The Wolf

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

Producers: Chickenfoot & Andy Johns

Country: USA

Total Time = 57:47

Chickenfoot
Chickenfoot MySpace page

Supergroup.

That simple word can mean either quick success or complete bomb when used in the Rock world. How many “supergroups” have gone on to great heights and impacting the music world? Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young come to mind, so does Cream and Blind Faith. Maybe throw Bad Company and Asia in there too? I’m sure there’s a few bands I’m missing but for every Cream, Bad Co. or Asia there’s a Contraband or a Bad English. Now you might say: “Hey, Bad English had a couple of hits!”…..I say name their second album and did it have any hits. The “supergroup” either hits it big quick or dies a miserable death. Needless to say when I heard that Sammy Hagar (ex-Van Halen, ex-Montrose), Michael Anthony (ex-Van Halen), Chad Smith (Red Hot Chili Peppers) and Joe Satriani were forming a brand new band, a “supergroup”, I was a little wary as well as curious.

The roots of Chickenfoot took hold back in 2002 when Hagar and Anthony started playing together with Journey guitarist Neal Schon and Journey drummer Deen Castronovo and called themselves Planet US. A little later on, the band added Joe Satriani in on second lead guitar. Basically this was a fun project for the members between the Van Halen reunion with Hagar and the recording of Journey’s album GENERATIONS (2005). Even though there was interest in keeping the project alive, the committments to Van Halen, Journey and Satriani’s solo career put the project on hold. As a result of nothing coming out Planet US, Schon created Soul SirkUS (a band with Jeff Scott Soto on vocals) in 2005 to release some of the material that was written for Planet US and, after touring extensively with Van Halen and Hagar’s solo band, Sammy Hagar and Michael Anthony revived the idea and started jamming with Satriani and Smith…..now you have Chickenfoot!

When I first heard about Chickenfoot I was excited. Even though I’m firmly in the Roth camp, I still enjoyed the Sammy Hagar version of Van Halen. With Van Halen on the backburner, I figured the Hagar/Anthony team would provide a solid base to get some good solid Melodic Hard Rock. It’s not hard to figure out that aside from Eddie Van Halen’s innovative guitar heroics the sound of Van Halen was Sammy’s voice backed by Michael’s solid harmonies. The winning combination is enhanced by a great guitar player in his own right with Satriani and probably one of the most underrated drummers in Rock with Smith. I figured I’d play this album and hear some really great Hard Rock with superb vocals and guitar. I was close!

I’ve listened to this album since it came out a lot but everytime I get halfway through it feels like something is missing. All the songs sound great, the production is top notch. The vocals are the highlight, Hagar proving that he can get it done better than ever at age 62 and Anthony chiming in with trademark harmonies. Smith pounds away and Satriani doesn’t shred as expected but he finds a smooth, Bluesy groove and plays with ease…..you can tell that the guys are all having fun playing together. The problem with the album is the songs…..they all sound the same save for a couple of tracks. The defining mark of each musician is that their careers have had great memorable songs full of life, hooks and melody. The problem with Chickenfoot is that none of the songs are memorable, there is really nothing here that gets me singing along and bringing me back for more. Songs like ‘Avenida Revolution’, ‘Soap On A Rope’ and ‘Get It Up’ are decent enough Hard Rock songs but there isn’t that hook that draws me in. Except for maybe a couple of songs, everything sounds more like a jam and in a couple of cases unfinished ideas. ‘Sexy Little Thing’ has that melody and hook that comes close to the kind of Hard Rock we’re used to from a Sammy Hagar fronted band. Same goes for ‘My Kinda Girl’ but this song is even better and could easily fit on a Van Halen album or a Sammy solo record, easily the best song on the album and should be the first single. Great harmonies and cool licks from Satriani add to the overall sound and it’s good to hear Mike Anthony singing on the background vocals…..a strong point of the Van Halen sound for decades. The third song that really stands out to me is the quiet ballad ‘Learning To Fall’ that reminds me of parts of the hit ‘Give To Live’ from Sammy’s 1987 solo album. This is probably Sammy’s best and most passionate vocal performance of the entire album, definitely a single in the making if it gets to radio.

Bottom Line:
I was looking forward to this album, to the next big supergroup, but I definitely came away disappointed. I spent a lot of time with this album because I like all the players involved and I’m a Sammy Hagar fan. If I look at my CD collection, I have all his Van Halen albums and almost all his solo records and the all have some pretty solid songs. Unfortunately, this debut album for Chickenfoot sounds like a collection of album tracks from Sammy’s solo records. You know the songs…..the ones that never make it to radio or the concert hall. I don’t want to say “filler” because that brings up a negative connotation, even though there are a few “fillers” on this album, overall it’s harder to take in. Most of the 11 songs don’t have that memorable melody or hook that keeps us tuned in, there’s not much that’s really catchy and gets you singing along. Some of the songs do grow on you after repeated listens but I lost interest after a while because there just wasn’t enough to hold my attention. This may not be the last Chickenfoot album because it’s selling decently, I just hope the guys in the band decide to follow a more commercial direction next time around.

Favorite Songs:
‘My Kinda Girl’, ‘Sexy Little Thing’, ‘Learning To Fall’

Saints Of The Underground – Love The Sin, Hate The Sinner (2008)

Saints Of The Undergrond – Love The Sin, Hate The Sinner (2008, Warrior Records)

  1. Dead Man Shoes
  2. Tomorrow Never Comes
  3. All In How You Wear It
  4. Good Times
  5. Exit
  6. American Girl
  7. Signs Of Life
  8. Bruised
  9. Moonlight Mile
  10. Jimmy

Band Lineup:
Jani Lane – Lead Vocals
Bobby Blotzer – Drums
Keri Kelli – Guitars
Robbie Crane – Bass

Additional Musicians:
Chuck Wright – Bass
Rick Flores – Keyboards

Produced by: Bobby Blotzer, Keri Kelli, & Jani Lane

Total Time = 36:40

Saints Of The Underground MySpace page
Warrior Records

Sometime back in 2005, I read an article online that reported that this “supergroup” had begun preliminary work on a record. First thing I remember coming to mind was: “Is this a supergroup?”. You’ve got two big names in Warrant frontman Jani Lane and Ratt drummer Bobby Blotzer but would the average Hard Rock fan even know who guitarist Keri Kelli (Alice Cooper’s band) and bassist Robbie Crane (ex-Vince Neil, current Ratt) are? Even if this was the late ’80s/early ’90s, I’m not sure this would be considered a “supergroup”. Immeadiate comparisons to the ill-fated 1992 Contraband project come to mind, especially since Blotzer was involved in that one too. The other thought was when would Jani Lane’s personal demons force the project to implode and be abandoned? I’ll admit that when I put this CD in the stereo I really wasn’t expecting all that much. Turns out that this project is pretty good.

Opening track ‘Dead Man’s Shoes’ is a solid Hard Rock tune with a great gritty vocal by Jani Lane and a melodic hook that really gets the album off to a rockin’ start. The song goes back to Bobby Blotzer’s 2002 project, Twenty 4 Seven, with John Corabi & Robert Marcello. ‘Tomorrow Never Comes’ keeps up the pace with another solid vocal by Jani and some cool guitar from Keri Kelli. I’ve never really heard much work from Kelli but what I’ve heard two songs in was pretty good and he also shines on ‘All In How You Wear It’. The opening riff from Kelli sounds very Guns ‘N Roses and it gives the song a sleazy feel when added to Lane’s dirty vocals. It’s easy to notice that Mr. Lane’s voice seems to have gotten lower as he’s aged, making him sound stronger and harder than his glory days in Warrant.

‘Good Times’ is the second song taken from Blotzer’s Twenty 4 Seven project and continues with the melodic Hard Rock while ‘Exit’ is a little lighter and more Pop-oriented. I’m not sure why the band decided to cover Tom Petty’s ‘American Girl’…..lack of original material maybe? It’s a good straight on version of the song but, with two Blotzer songs already recycled, wouldn’t original material be better served? One thing I noticed is that the drumming is a little heavier by Blotzer here than on the original but the song as a whole is still spot on. ‘Signs of Life’ continues the pure Hard Rock with a heavy mid-paced groove that, along with Lane’s vocal, sounds similar to Warrant circa the DOG EAT DOG/ULTRAPHOBIC/BELLY TO BELLY (1992/95/96) era.

‘Bruised’ is probably the heaviest song on the record with the Blotzer/Crane rhythm tandem in top form and Keri Kelli laying a solid guitar foundation for Lane to sing over. I still can’t get over Lane’s performance, absolutely much better than expected. Cover #2 (or #4 if you count the two Twenty 4 Seven songs) is of the Rolling Stones track ‘Moonlight Mile’. It’s decent, I like the acoustic guitar but I’ll stick with the original by Mick, Keith, & the boys. Last song is ‘Jimmy’, an interesting song that sounds like a Thin Lizzy tune. A little research finds that ‘Jimmy’ is a Lane penned number from back in the beginning days of Warrant and now it finally sees a proper release on the Saints album. This is probably my favorite of the album with it’s ’70s groove and the best melodic guitar of the record/

Bottom Line:
I’m pleasantly surprised. Like I mentioned earlier, I expected this to be a disjointed fiasco based on what was going on with Jani Lane’s addivtive life but this album has Lane and company fully focused on bringing some decent Hard Rock to the fans. Jani Lane puts in a really solid performance with his vocal work and Keri Kelli puts some solid leads and solos down. The Blotzer/Crane tandem is solid after 10 years together in Ratt so they keep everything together nicely. My only disappointment is the covers and retreads: I’d have rather had fresh material than two cover songs and the recycling of an old Warrant song and re-recording of two Bobby Blotzer songs (from another project) makes things a little disjointed. The music is fresh to most ears but diehard fans will recognize the songs and may ask if this was a real band collaboration or just a quick one-off for a check. Still a solid album and one of the good surprises this year.

Favorite songs: ‘Dead Man’s Shoes’, ‘Jimmy’, ‘Bruised’, ‘Good Times’, ‘All In How You Wear It’