Blog Archives

Red: My Uncensored Life in Rock by Sammy Hagar (Book Review)

Red: My Uncensored Life in Rock
By Sammy Hagar with Joel Selvin
(2011, It Books)

At 238 pages, I was able to read this one over the course of a week. Let me tell you, considering how long it usually takes me to read through a book, I’m pretty proud of myself for that. I’m not one of those people that can pick up a book and knock out most of it in one sitting. It usually takes me weeks to get just one book finished.

Anyway, Red is good light reading but it has some darker moments like when Sammy talks about his abusive alcoholic dad and his wife slowly having a nervous breakddown. Other moments like when Hagar talks about the VH reunion tour back in 2003 are just plain sad because of how out of it Eddie was at the time. But it’s weird because when Sammy talks about his dad it’s almost as if he is glorifying him, yet the Van Halen brothers come across as low-lifes.

For the most part, Sammy is pretty upbeat on his view of life but obviously still has issues with Van Halen. He seems so free-spirited and easy-going about everything in life… except his old band. Sammy even makes the (oft-repeated and ridiculous) claim that Van Hagar sold more albums than the DLR era. Not even close. Why do people continue to say this? The feather in the cap of Van Hagar is that their albums always debuted at #1, not that they sold more.

The book does not revolve entirely around Van Halen. Hagar talks about his childhood, working the club circuit, Montrose, solo career, Mexico and his various business ventures. If my memory serves correctly, there’s a few chapters that didn’t make the book that were posted online at one time. One dealt with the divorce from his first wive and the other involved some more shady business dealings with VH and the new manager they had taken on at the time (that Sammy was not getting along with).

A good read overall. There’s enough Van Halen drama for those that like their biographies to dish the dirt while giving us a deeper look into the world of Sammy Hagar. Recommended.

Buy ‘Red: My Uncensored Life in Rock’ at Amazon.com

The Metal Excess Awards: 2011 Edition

Last year I said 2010 was a better year for music than 2009 was. I went on to wonder how 2011 could even begin to top it. Well, guess what… 2011 did indeed top 2010! I’m looking back at my Top 25 list for 2010 and while those albums are all still good, this year’s Top 25 list is much stronger top to bottom.

2011 was a great year that saw classic rock/metal acts like Whitesnake, Warrant, Riot, Alice Cooper, Journey, Black N’ Blue and King Kobra deliver some of the best albums of their career while younger acts like Steel Panther, Reckless Love, Savage Messiah, Evile (who missed the list by this much) and Black Veil Brides have shown that they are more than capable of carrying rock & metal into the future.

Top 25 Albums of 2011

1. Whitesnake – Forevermore
2. Sixx:A.M. – This Is Gonna Hurt
3. Riot – Immortal Soul
4. Warrant – Rockaholic
5. Alice Cooper – Welcome 2 My Nightmare
6. Steel Panther – Balls Out
7. Megadeth – Thirteen
8. Anthrax – Worship Music
9. Sebastian Bach – Kicking & Screaming
10. Reckless Love – Animal Attraction
11. Edguy – Age of the Joker
12. Hurtsmile – s/t
13. Journey – Eclipse
14. Chickenfoot – III
15. Mike Tramp & The Rock ‘N’ Roll Circuz – Stand Your Ground
16. Black Country Communion – 2
17. The Poodles – Performocracy
18. House of Lords – Big Money
19. King Kobra – s/t
20. Saliva – Under Your Skin
21. Foo Fighters – Wasting Light
22. Black N’ Blue – Hell Yeah!
22. Savage Messiah – Plague of Conscience
24. George Lynch – Kill All Control
25. Joe Bonamassa – Dust Bowl

Best E.P./Single
In light of a few non-album singles being released this year, I’ve decided to make this a hybrid category.

1. Sixx:A.M. – 7
2. Black Veil Brides – Rebels
3. Who Cares – Out of My Mind / Holy Water
4. Wildstreet – II …Faster …Louder!
5. The Last Vegas – The Other Side E.P.

Best Compilation/Cover/Live/Reissue Albums
Kind of a catch-all category this year. Instead of listing each category individually, I decided to lump them all into one list and rank them that way.

1. Black Sabbath – Born Again [Deluxe Edition]
2. Stryper – The Covering
3. Vains of Jenna – Reverse Tripped
4. Whitesnake – Live at Donington 1990
5. Slash featuring Myles Kennedy – Live: Made In Stoke 24/7/11
6. Hell – Human Remains
7. Scorpions – Comeblack
8. Def Leppard – Mirrorball: Live & More
9. Eric Carr – Unfinished Business
10. Black Sabbath – Dehumanizer [Deluxe Edition]

Want to read more about the year in music? Check out some of the fine sites & blogs listed below! And be sure to keep checking back for more Year-End posts here at Metal Excess!

All Metal Resource — http://allmetalresource.com/

Bring Back Glam — http://bringbackglam.squarespace.com/

The Crash Pad of Ray Van Horn, Jr. – http://www.rayvanhornjr2.blogspot.com/

Hair Metal Mansion — http://hairbangersradio.ning.com/

Hard Rock Hideout — http://hardrockhideout.com/

Hard Rock Nights — http://hardrocknights.com

Heavy Metal Addiction — http://heavymetaladdiction.com/

Heavy Metal Time Machine — http://metalmark.blogspot.com/

Imagine Echoes — http://www.imagineechoes.com/

Layla’s Classic Rock — http://laylasclassicrock.blogspot.com/

Metal Odyssey — http://metalodyssey.wordpress.com/

The Ripple Effect — http://www.ripplemusic.blogspot.com/

Chickenfoot – III

Chickenfoot – III [Classic Rock Fan Pack Exclusive Limited Edition] (2011, earMUSIC)

1. “Last Temptation” … 4:02
2. “Alright Alright” … 4:39
3. “Different Devil” … 4:24
4. “Up Next” … 4:33
5. “Lighten Up” … 5:12
6. “Come Closer” … 4:08
7. “Three and a Half Letters” … 4:07
8. “Big Foot” … 3:49
9. “Dubai Blues” … 5:02
10. “Something Going Wrong” … 5:16
Bonus Tracks
11. “Down the Drain” (Live in Phoenix) … 9:13
12. “Oh Yeah” (Live in Phoenix) … 6:23

Band:
Sammy Hagar – Lead Vocals, Backing Vocals
Joe Satriani – Guitar
Michael Anthony – Bass, Backing Vocals
Chad Smith – Drums, Percussion

Producer: Chickenfoot & Mike Fraser

This super group’s debut was decent but nothing particularly thrilling. It sounded like a bunch of guys having fun but it didn’t really translate when it came to the songs in my opinion. Well, on Chickenfoot III (they skipped the second album) this very much feels more like a band that has written real songs and not bunch of guys jamming.

Because of how underwhelmed the debut left me, I wasn’t sure if I was going to pick this album up. I saw Classic Rock magazine was doing yet another “Fan Pack” release and figured if I ever was going to buy the album that I might as get the album that comes with a magazine. It’s a bit more bare bones than the Alice Cooper release (or even Whitesnake): 132-page 3-D magazine, a pack of 5 Chickenfoot guitar picks and a pair of 3-D glasses. The artwork inside and out of the album packaging are in 3-D as is the CD label itself but all of that I believe is standard with the first pressed copy of the album (just like the “heat sensitive” version of the debut).

Onto the music, what can you say as far as the playing goes? Sammy’s vocals sound just as good as ever, no one’s going to say Satriani can’t play guitar and Chad Smith is the perfect drummer for this type of band. Then you have Michael Anthony who in addition to bass is adding his usual fantastic backing vocals to help enhance things (the VH boys have some real balls letting him go based on backing vocals alone).

Like I said earlier, this very much feels like more of band now. Hagar says the first album came together very quickly while III was a much more laborious project. Well, if that means gelling better and Joe & Sammy writing better songs together… that’s fine by me! In fact, the only that I think fall a bit flat are “Dubai Blues” and “Lighten Up”. The rest of the album are just great rockers, good ballads (“Different Devil” sounds like something Van Hagar would’ve done), something socially relevant (“Three and a Half Letters”) and the albums ends with something a bit experimental that uses acoustic guitars and a banjo — the excellent “Something Going Wrong”.

Bonus live tracks are always kind of a throwaway to me. They are exclusive to this Fan Pack edition. “Down the Drain” and “Oh Yeah” may be two of the better songs from the debut but all they do is really highlight how mediocre that debut was and how much better this album is.

Chickenfoot’s III had revived my interest in this band after milquetoast debut, is one of the year’s best releases and I hope we get to see a third album (IV?) from these guy down the line.

Highlights: “Last Temptation”, “Alright Alright”, “Different Devil”, “Up Next”, “Come Closer”, “Three and a Half Letters”, “Big Foot”, “Something Going Wrong”

http://www.facebook.com/chickenfoot
http://www.chickenfoot.us/

Buy ‘III’ at Amazon.com!

Most Disappointing Albums of 2009

Chickenfoot – Chickenfoot

I’m surprised this album is showing up on so many “best of 2009” lists because upon its release, I didn’t see a lot of glowing reviews. In some ways, this album is exactly what I expected — a competent yet lifeless release. Not that anyone believed him, but Sammy did the band no favors by claiming Chickenfoot was creating music as good as or better than Van Halen and Led Zeppelin. Perhaps he was referring to Van Halen III. Because, yeah, I’ll give him that — this album is better than Van Halen III. These guys are are professionals and rock legends and I think its great the album has gone gold, but it just didn’t gel for me. I didn’t hear any magic or chemistry. I’m thinking maybe Satriani is the problem and that the band needed someone who had a more loose, rock ‘n’ roll style.

Bon Jovi – The Circle

Okay, so I guess I shouldn’t have been disappointed because the last two Bon Jovi albums have been really lame, but I always hold out hope for these guys considering they’ve one of my favorite bands of all time. The fact that Jon was touting The Circle as a “big rock record” and a return to form really got my hopes up. In one interview, he even likened the album to the band’s ’80s stuff. Um, okay, Jon, what are you listening to because you definitely weren’t spinning New Jersey or Slippery When Wet when trying to get inspired for The Circle. You’ve lost it, man. You can’t write a catchy hard rock stadium anthem to save your life, can you? Richie’s lost it too and I’m starting to think so has Desmond Child.

Tim Ripper Owens – Play My Game

I debated whether to consider this “disappointing” or not but what the heck — it isn’t bad, but it isn’t what I hoped for either. Considering the talent involved, this should’ve been much better and in the long run, there just weren’t many memorable songs (trying to sound too modern) and I don’t think Owens’ voice was properly utilized.

The Last Vegas – Whatever Gets You Off

The Last Vegas is a shining example of the future of rock ‘n’ roll being strong but this release was just plain lazy with six of the eleven songs released just one year prior on the band’s self-released album. The songs are good and I can understand the band wanting to show off some of their best self-released work once getting signed to a label but did they really need to eat up half the album to do that?

Heaven and Hell – The Devil You Know

How could this be? The Devil You Know landed at #9 on my Top 10 of 2009 list! Yes, but given that this is the same band that released Heaven and Hell, Mob Rules and Dehumanizer as Black Sabbath, I couldn’t help but think this album was way too slow and not heavy enough. It’s a respectable effort but doesn’t come close to previous works.

CHICKENFOOT – Chickenfoot

Chickenfoot – Chickenfoot (2009, Redline Entertainment)

1. “Avenida Revolution” … 5:56
2. “Soap on a Rope” … 5:32
3. “Sexy Little Thing” … 4:14
4. “Oh Yeah” … 4:54
5. “Runnin’ Out” … 3:52
6. “Get It Up” … 4:41
7. “Down the Drain” … 6:17
8. “My Kinda Girl” … 4:32
9. “Learning to Fall” … 5:13
10. “Turnin’ Left” … 5:48
11. “Future in the Past” … 6:38

Band:
Sammy Hagar – Vocals
Joe Satriani – Guitar, Bass, Harmonica
Michael Anthony – Bass, Backing Vocals
Chad Smith – Drums, Percussion

Produced by: Chickenfoot and Andy Johns

With a name like Chickenfoot, you’d think this was a Buckethead project/album.

I’ve already seen tons of reviews trashing this album, talking about the lack of chemistry, “sub-Metallica” tunes like “Avenida Revolution” (WTF does that even mean?) and the restrained, unemotional playing of Joe Satriani. Well, this album isn’t a home run, but don’t let the critics fool you, it’s a GOOD album.

The whole album is pretty much on par with “Soap on a Rope” and “Down the Drain”, both were songs that the band released months ago for streaming online. If you like those songs, you’ll like the rest. It took me quite a few spins to get into the album, but now I”m picking it apart and liking it a lot. I didn’t like “Soap on a Rope” or “Down the Drain” all that much when I first heard those either, but now they’ve grown on me too.

Basically, to me, this album sounds like a Sammy Hagar solo disc with a few Van Halen tunes thrown in. By the way, how great is it to hear Michael Anthony backing Hagar on vocals again? The songs that remind me most of Van Halen are “Sexy Little Thing” (which is the best song on the album, IMO), “Oh Yeah”, “Runnin’ Out” and “My Kind Girl”.

The rest seems like what you might hear from Sammy Hagar as a solo act– it’s a mix of good time party rock and songs with a message about love, life and the state of the world.

I’m a bit dismayed Satriani doesn’t have much more to do on this album. Sure, he has his moments, but his playing is definitely more restrained than I thought it would be. Not that the guitar should be the star of the album, but I figured we get a few more smokin’ solos and we don’t. He’s plays for the songs and the songs only.

For the amount of talent of the band, I had really high hopes. I think everyone did. And while it wasn’t quite Van Halen + Joe Satriani + Red Hot Chili Peppers, it’s still a darn good party rock album and I hope this band will not be a one-time deal.

In a smart move, this release was a Best Buy exclusive. Not that I think it’s smart to go exclusive with Best Buy (who REALLY dropped the ball with Chinese Democracy), but going exclusive is a safer bet in today’s musical climate for veteran acts and artists.

The front/back covers are pretty cool. They are heat sensitive and go from black to revealing the band members on the front and the track listing on the back. Nice, fun touch.

Highlights: “Soap on a Rope” “Sexy Little Thing”, “Oh Yeah”, “Runnin’ Out”, “Down the Drain”, “My Kinda Girl”, “Learning to Fall”

www.chickenfoot.us
www.myspace.com/thechickenfoot

Chickenfoot Streaming Two Songs Online

Chickenfoot, the rock super group featuring Sammy Hagar, Joe Satriani, Michael Anthony (ex-Van Halen) and Chad Smith (Red Hot Chili Peppers), now has two songs up for streaming on their MySpace page and official website.

It’s good stuff, but I don’t understand why Sammy felt he had to hype of up their music as the equivalent of Van Halen and Led Zeppelin, because it’s definitely not.

“Soap On A Rope” reminds me a bit of early 90s Van Halen, but that’s about it. Really cool to hear Michael Anthony on backing vocals and Satch in an actual band environment. =)

“Down the Drain” is my favorite of the two songs.

What do you think?

Metal Excess News Desk #1

Welcome to the first edition of the Metal Excess News Desk! In order to provide more content to the blog, I’ve decided to do a round-up of rock news that is of particular interest of me and provide my own thoughts. So just how frequent will I be doing this? Who knows. Maybe every few days, once a week or twice an hour! Just whenever I feel like it!

Now, on with today’s top stories…

Read the rest of this entry

%d bloggers like this: