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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!

VAN HALEN – 1984

Van Halen – 1984 [Remastered] (2000, Warner Bros. Records)
Original Release: 1984, Warner Bros. Records

1. “1984” … 1:07
2. “Jump” … 4:04
3. “Panama” … 3:32
4. “Top Jimmy” … 3:00
5. “Drop Dead Legs” … 4:14
6. “Hot for Teacher” … 4:44
7. “I’ll Wait” … 4:45
8. “Girl Gone Bad” … 4:35
9. “House of Pain” … 3:19

Band:
David Lee Roth – Lead Vocals
Eddie Van Halen – Guitar, Keyboards, Backing Vocals
Michael Anthony – Bass, Backing Vocals
Alex Van Halen – Drums, Percussion

Producer: Ted Templeman

What can I say about this album that hasn’t been said over the last 25 years plus for this diamond status (that’s 10 MILLION plus albums sold) album? It’s an undisputed rock classic and essential Van Halen (though I wouldn’t say it’s their best). It opened a lot of doors for rock ‘n’ roll to become even more mainstream and with keyboard-heavy songs like “1984”, “Jump” and “I’ll Wait”, the band blurred the line between hard rock and pop music than they ever had before. Not that that’s a bad thing.

Every song is great except one… “Top Jimmy”. That one has always been filler to my ears. I don’t hate it, it’s not even one of the band’s worst songs, but it really pales in comparison to the rest of the album. “House of Pain” sounds like something that would fit right in on Fair Warning and if “Drop Dead Legs” or “Girl Gone Bad” were released as singles, they would’ve been huge hits. Then again, at this point, pretty much anything with the band’s name on it would have been a hit.

It’s hard to pick an absolute favorite from this album. The four singles (“Jump”, “Panama”, “Hot for Teacher”, “I’ll Wait”) are the best. That’s the easy part, but I can’t say which of those four is superior. It’s like trying to choose your favorite child!

Though this was the peak of commercial success for the band, it was also one of their most tumultuous times internally and egos eventually forced David Lee Roth to quit the band and pursue a solo career in 1985. What’s funny about this is that a contributing factor to Dave leaving was that he apparently wasn’t happy with the poppy sound of the album and Eddie relying on keyboards so much but then in his own solo career he relied on covers of songs like “California Girls” and “Just a Gigolo” and turned in a number of pop rock albums.

Highlights: C’mon, it’s 1984! Everything is a highlight… except “Top Jimmy”!

www.van-halen.com

VAN HALEN – Fair Warning

Van Halen – Fair Warning [Remastered] (2000, Warner Bros. Records)
Original Release: 1981, Warner Bros. Records

1. “Mean Street” … 4:55
2. “Dirty Movies” … 4:06
3. “Sinner’s Swing” … 3:08
4. “Hear About It Later” … 4:33
5. “Unchained” … 3:27
6. “Push Comes to Shove” … 3:48
7. “So This Is Love?” … 3:05
8. “Sunday Afternoon In The Park” … 2:00
9. “One Foot Out The Door” … 1:56

Band:
David Lee Roth – Lead Vocals
Eddie Van Halen – Guitar, Backing Vocals
Michael Anthony – Bass, Backing Vocals
Alex Van Halen – Drums

Producer: Ted Templeman

The group’s fourth album shows off a darker, meaner and heavier Van Halen, but this album is still a classic nonetheless. You can’t go wrong with any album from Roth’s first run in the band. Eddie wanted a more “serious” sound (Roth wanted more of a pop direction) for the band and has admitted in later years that he was heavily into cocaine & alcohol during the making of this album, so I guess that accounts for the darkness this album wallows in.

If you need any confirmation that this isn’t your typical “all smiles” Van Halen, just check out the obligatory Eddie instrumental “Sunday Afternoon In The Park”. Quite a departure from “Eruption” and “Spanish Fly”!

As with the case of many classics, there’s not a whole lot for me to say that hasn’t already been said (and said better). Every Roth-VH album is essential listening for any and all rock fans.

This is the least successful album of all the Roth/Hagar years as it “only” has gone double platinum and failed to spawn a big hit song at the time (though I’ve heard “Unchained” quite a lot on radio over the years).

The edition I have of this album is the remaster from 2000. The 2000 Van Halen remasters was one of those annoying remasters sereies where no thought was given to throwing a few bonus tracks on for the fans. You mean to tell me there’s no demos, b-sides, alternate takes or live tracks laying around? Give me a break.

Highlights: “Mean Street”, “Dirty Movies”, “Sinner’s Swing”, “Hear About It Later”, “Unchained”, “So This Is Love?”

www.van-halen.com

VAN HALEN – OU812

Van Halen – OU812 (1988, Warner Bros. Records)

1. “Mine All Mine” … 5:11
2. “When It’s Love” … 5:36
3. “A.F.U. (Naturally Wired)” … 4:28
4. “Cabo Wabo” … 7:04
5. “Source of Infection” … 3:58
6. “Feels So Good” … 4:27
7. “Finish What Ya Started” … 4:20
8. “Black and Blue” … 5:24
9. “Sucker in a 3 Piece” … 5:52
10. “A Apolitical Blues” … 3:50

Band:
Sammy Hagar – Lead Vocals, Guitar
Eddie Van Halen – Guitar, Keyboards, Backing Vocals
Michael Anthony – Bass, Backing Vocals
Alex Van Halen – Drums, Percussion

Produced by: Van Halen and Don Landee

Van Hagar Halen continues their descent into the “adult contemporary” genre, just take a look at that cover and tell me it doesn’t scream “BORING”. Looks like something from the ’60s or ’70s. It started with the band’s debut with Hagar on 1986’s 5150 (which was actually was a really good slick hard rock/pop album), but this time that fun vibe that album continued over from the David Lee Roth era is gone.

Sure, some of the good time subject matter is still here (sex, booze, partying in general), but it seems a bit more grown up and dark, if that’s possible when talking about having a good time. The album is definitely lifted by the great pop ballad “When It’s Love” and the awesome country-picking of “Finish What Ya Started” (two of my favorite Van Hagar songs).

OU812 is a really odd departure for the band that never really gets out of 2nd gear outside of “Source of Infection”, which sounds like the hard rockin’ Van Halen of old. Even more odd when you consider this album is sandwiched in between the two most fun and most Roth-like Van Hagar albums: 5150 and For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge.

Highlights: “Mine All Mine”, “When It’s Love”, “Source of Infection”, “Feels So Good”, “Finish What Ya Started”

www.van-halen.com

VAN HALEN – 5150

Van Halen – 5150 (1986, Warner Bros. Records)

1. “Good Enough” … 4:04
2. “Why Can’t This Be Love” … 3:47
3. “Get Up” … 4:37
4. “Dreams” … 4:54
5. “Summer Nights” … 5:06
6. “Best of Both Worlds” … 4:48
7. “Love Walks In” … 5:11
8. “5150” … 5:44
9. “Inside” … 5:02

Band:
Sammy Hagar – Vocals, Guitar
Eddie Van Halen – Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, Keyboards, Backing Vocals
Michael Anthony – Bass, Backing Vocals
Alex Van Halen – Drums, Percussion

Produced by: Mick Jones, Don Landee, Van Halen

Ladies and gentlemen, David Lee Roth has left the building!

I prefer Roth-era Van Halen, but Van Hagar kicked off to a very promising start with this release, which I would rank right behind For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge for the Hagar albums.

“Why Can’t This Be Love”, “Love Walks In” and “Dreams” had been three of my favorite Van Halen songs since before I was even heavily into the band. It spelled out the change in the direction towards an adult contemporary sound the band would explore even more on the slightly disappointing OU812, but they are still great songs.

“Best of Both Worlds” is another VH classic, regardless of which era you prefer and “Get Up” is a tremendous rocker which would’ve been a great album opener.

This was the last VH album I needed to complete my collection and I got it probably 5 years ago or so. Well, honestly, I still have never picked up the Gary Cherone fronted Van Halen III, but I’ve heard enough to know it’s horrible and that I’ll probably never pick it up. I held off for so long just because I was so familiar already with “Love Walks In”, “Dreams”, “Why Can’t This Be Love” and “Best of Both Worlds” that I was in no urgent rush to hear the rest.

The album would eventually go platinum six times over and was Van Halen’s FIRST album to hit #1 on the Billboard charts.

Highlights: “Why Can’t This Be Love”, “Get Up”, “Dreams”, “Summer Nights”, “Best of Both Worlds”, “Love Walks In”

www.van-halen.com

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

VAN HALEN – Van Halen II

Van Halen – Van Halen II (1979, Warner Bros. Records)

1. “You’re No Good” … 3:16
2. “Dance the Night Away” … 3:06
3. “Somebody Get Me a Doctor” … 2:52
4. “Bottoms Up!” … 3:05
5. “Outta Love Again” … 2:51
6. “Light Up the Sky” … 3:13
7. “Spanish Fly” … 1:00
8. “D.O.A.” … 4:09
9. “Women in Love…” … 4:08
10. “Beautiful Girls” … 3:56

Band:
David Lee Roth – Lead Vocals
Eddie Van Halen – Guitar , Backing Vocals
Michael Anthony – Bass, Backing Vocals
Alex Van Halen – Drums

Produced by: Ted Templeman

This album is nearly as flawless as Van Halen I, but lacks the bite of that debut album. Still an amazing record, and the album still resembles their debut, but the songs take on a slightly more pop sheen. Van Halen was one of the main templates for the 80s pop metal scene and this album, more than their debut, has much in common with that era, I think.

From top to bottom, it ranks as one of the best hard rock albums of all-time.

Highlights: All of it

www.van-halen.com

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?

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