Category Archives: Sammy Hagar
Sammy Hagar with Vic Johnson – Lite Roast
2014, Mailboat Records
Buy the album
1. Red Voodoo
2. One Sip
3. Finish What Ya Started
4. Eagles Fly
5. The Love
6. Father Sun
8. Deeper Kinda Love
9. Who Has the Right?
11. Halfway to Memphis
Well, it’s no surprise that Sammy’s latest release comes from Jimmy Buffett’s record label as it seems like Hagar has tried to emulate elements of Jimmy Buffett over the last decade (right down to covering his songs and touring with him). As the album cover and title would suggest, Lite Roast is a laid back and mellow acoustic affair. What’s notable is that Hagar’s longtime guitarist, Vic Johnson from the Waboritas, is featured on the cover and the album is officially credited to them both.
Essentially, this is kind of a compilation of solo/Van Hagar tracks reworked acoustically. “The Love”, from Hagar’s 1999 album Red Voodoo is excellent in this setting. I think I might actually prefer this stripped down version over the original. It’s also nice to see the inclusion of that album’s title track as Red Voodoo holds a special nostalgic place in my heart. Yes, I’m nostalgic about a Sammy Hagar album that was released in 1999.
There’s a couple of tracks that fall flat with me (okay, more than a couple). “One Sip” is from Hagar’s Buffett-inspired Livin’ It Up! album which was co-written with another Buffett emulator Kenny Chesney. That was an album I passed on and “One Sip” proves to me I was right. I doubt the original version is any better. “Sailin'” is also from that album is, frankly, a bland ballad. Van Halen’s “Finish What Ya Started” holds up well, as expected, when given the full acoustic treatment. “Dreams” also sounds good here. MelodicRock.com said this version of “Dreams” is “horrible” but I don’t get that at all. I think it holds up well.
Despite the spotty picks of tracks, one thing I like about this album is the production. It sounds like there’s not a whole lot and I mean that in a good way. It really sounds like Sammy and Vic simply pulled up a couple of stools, started playing and recorded everything live. I’m not sure if that’s what actually happened, but every track sounds like it was done that way in an intimate setting. There’s no attempt to set the atmosphere with a piano or anything. Just a couple of guys with acoustic guitars singing.
I guess it’s no surprise that I found myself most enjoying the songs that I already knew. Much of Hagar’s solo work beyond Red Voodoo has been very uninspired and, dare I say, lazy (although I LOVE “Serious Juju” from Ten 13). Lite Roast is a mixed bag of varying quality coffee grounds. There’s really only four tracks here that I think are enjoyable. The rest is kinda forgettable and boring. A Sammy Hagar acoustic album isn’t a bad idea, it’s just that the song selection is pretty poor. I’d like Hagar to revisit the acoustic setting at some point with the idea of doing a greatest hits package.
Highlight: “Finish What Ya Started”, “Eagles Fly”, “The Love”, “Dreams”
Sammy Hagar and the Waboritas – Red Voodoo (1999, MCA Records)
1. “Mas Tequila” … 4:11
2. “Shag” … 3:34
3. “Sympathy for the Human” … 4:48
4. “Red Voodoo” … 3:49
5. “Lay Your Hand on Me” … 4:09
6. “High and Dry Again” … 5:35
7. “The Revival” … 3:39
8. “Don’t Fight It (Feel It)” … 3:11
9. “The Love” … 4:07
10. “Right on Right” … 5:22
11. “Returning of the Wish” … 5:54
Sammy Hagar: Vocals, Guitar
Victor Johnson: Guitar, Backing Vocals
Mona: Bass, Backing Vocals
David Lauser: Drums, Backing Vocals
Jesse Harms: Keyboards, Backing Vocals
Roy Rogers – Guitar
Tower of Power Horn Section – Horns
Produced by: Sammy Hagar & Jesse Harms
I’ve always had a problem getting into Hagar’s solo stuff. Great voice and a great guy from what it seems, but in my opinion, his solo material quality has never matched the his voice quality.
There’s definitely some good songs on here though, even if half the album is filler. “Mas Tequila” is incredibly infectious (and I don’t even drink!), “High and Dry Again” is a Hagar-penned AC/DC song practically, and “The Love” would’ve fit right at home on Van Halen’s OU812 or For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge.
I was pretty excited about this album (Sammy’s first with the Waboritas) because I had really become a huge Van Halen a few years earlier, but I remember being very letdown after hearing this.
VH1 endlessly hyped the album through their lame late night ‘VH1 Rock Show’ because “Mas Tequila” seemed to be one of the few videos the show aired (I remember Fuel’s “Shimmer” being another constant).
Highlights: “Mas Tequila”, “Shag”, “Lay Your Hand on Me”, “High and Dry Again”, “The Love”, “Returning of the Wish”