Thursday, July 02, 2009

A Guide To Our Patron Saint

I wasn't sure what I wanted to post tonight but I wanted to type something and I realized it was time to capitalize on a Sammy Hagar binge I've been on lately. Part of it has to do with downloading Classic Masters for $5.99 at ITunes so now I can listen to some of his '70's stuff. I'm working on making 3 Cds for my car of the Red Rocker or as I refer to him, Saint Sammy, because he knows all and sees all. My favorite record of Sam I Am's? V.O.A., the Voice of America. And that's what he is. The voice for all people everywhere.

1. I Can't Drive 55

THE protest song of the 80's, Sammy took a shot at the MAN for sticking us with a stupid safer slower speed limit. 55 mph? Who drives that speed when a cop's not around? Nobody from what I saw back in the day, then again I grew up in California where people tail gate you if you're slower than 75 on the freeway. Who knows, maybe one of those people tailgating me was Sammy Hagar. If I see a frizzy blond guy inches from my rear bumper in a Trans Am wearing a canary yellow jump suit, I swear I won't give that guy the finger. At any rate, Sammy was able to affect change as the speed limit was eventually changed to 65. Yes We Can!

2. Swept Away

Spinal Tap excess pushed to the max, "Swept Away" alternates between a verse that's sung in an ominous chant like style and a raging rock chorus packed with charging guitars. I can't tell you what it was supposed to be about, I just envisioned monks on a beach at night coming to take people's souls away. One of many favorites on this record. I mean Spinal Tap excess in a good way.

3. Rock Is In My Blood

The reason I call him Saint Sammy is due to his ability to speak simple truths about life with authority. This is one of those truths. Rock is in his blood. I won't name names Bryan Adams in the 90's when AOR disappeared from the radio many 80's rockers went running for Adult Contemporary Bryan Adams and maybe sold more CDs yet proved that Rock was not in their blood Bryan Adams. While Sammy was not above the mysterious art form known as the Power Ballad (as you will soon see) he never made it his stock in trade. Being a power chord slamming tequila guzzling Jimmy Buffett, yeah he did do that, but mewing to Sting and Rod Stewart about all for one and one for all to sell Four Musketeer movie tickets? No. Recording an awesome Rock anthem for a Sylvester Stallone movie about arm wrestling ("Winner Takes It All")? Yes. Hell to the Yes!!!

4. Two Sides Of Love

Back in the day I took offense to Sammy's statement that twin guitars sucked unless it suited his needs, an obvious swipe at Night Ranger. Don't diss the Night Ranger. The song that had me running out to buy this record, those great twin guitars harmonize while Sam frets about those two sides of love. I really liked the video too, with the black background and oversaturated spot light I think this clip was made by the same folks who did Chicago's "Hard Habit To Break" vid. This was the lead single and was one of two songs (the other is "I Can't Drive 55") to see Top 40 singles action from V.O.A. It's always nice to get a little sensitive and stuff before throwing on your ode to one eyed willie.

5. Dick In The Dirt

I loved it when local radio station KRQR The Rocker would play this, it walked that fine FCC line so closely. You see there's this guy named Richard, Sammy's red necked friend, who keeps meeting girls who knock him into the dirt. But you can't keep him down, Richard gets right back up again. I'm not making this up, that really is the song. Remember the first time Sammy was fired from Van Halen and EVH would keep citing "Amsterdam"s lyrics as an example of Hagar's immaturity? How can you hear "Dick in the Dirt" and not know what kind of song writer Hagar was?

6. V.O.A.

Great thinkers are always ahead of their time, Sammy had his eye on world politics way back when in the 80's. Because if you have a problem, and no one can help you and if you can find him, you can call The V.O.A. Team. They'll take out Russian spies and terrorists with a guitar in one hand and an uzi in the other. Parachuting onto the White House to tell Reagan how to do his business. Why is this man not in a Government think tank? Maybe he is and just can't tell us. Seriously though, this song makes me sentimental for the days of the Steel Curtain (not the Steelers) when the USSR was supposed to be responsible for all that was bad in the world. Such a simpler time. One of my all time favorite video clips. And when I'm talkin', you better listen. Hey!

7. Don't Make Me Wait

The last two songs on the album were the ones I played the least, so this song will give me the chance to say I liked Sammy Hagar's backing band. Gary Pihl was a good guitar player, good enough to join Boston after Hagar went to Van Halen. Keyboardist Jesse Harms had that bright synthesizer sound and could write too, such as Eddie Money's hit "Walk On Water". The rhythm section of bassist Bill Church and drummer David Lauser gave a hard edged backbeat and groove for Sammy Hagar to rock on.

8. Burnin' Down The City

A popular thing to do in the 80's, metaphorically burn things down that is. Now for a shout out to Sammy Hagar's voice, a perfect Rock voice with grit, rasp and range. Let's face it, how could you not burn down the city if you're a patriotic speeding rocker with a sensitive side for tha la-dies? Why am I asking so many questions in this post? I guess it's because all is answered when Saint Sammy unveils his master plan for us all. As the wise man once said, Mas Tequila!

V.O.A. brought Sammy Hagar the biggest commercial success of his solo career thanks to "I Can't Drive 55". He would manage to top this feat by joining Van Halen and allowing that band to continue to be awesome despite the loss of Diamond Dave. Although I felt Hagar overplayed the "I'm a party guy like David Lee Roth too" bit after joining and preferred his more earthy Red Rocker persona. It just goes to show no matter what the setting, Sammy Hagar is about balls to the walls awesomeness. Oh well, it's as the Saint says "all that matters is right here, right now." 'Nuff said. Peace!


Jeannie said...

ROFL- as soon as I saw that picture I knew the word "saint" was going to show up somewhere.

I actually was a fan of Montrose, so I look forward to your review of some of that stuff.

"I Can't Drive 55" is an exercise playlist must for me. It's a great song. And Saint Sammy was speaking the truth. KRQR used to announce all the time that Sammy Hagar got a speeding ticket on Highway 101. It seemed like it was once a week. Once they clocked him at 125 mph. Who does that??? Oh yeah, Saint Sammy.

Oh, back to Montrose for a sec...I just realized that Templeman produced them. Is that way Saint Sammy was chosen to be DLR's replacement?

Mr. Mike said...

The way I heard Sammy joined Van Halen was that they had the same mechanic who recommended to EVH to contact Hagar when he found out Roth was gone. I looked up the source of all "verified" information, Wikipedia, it pretty much said the same thing so I guess that's true. I think I read an interview with Neal Schon once where he claimed some credit for the pairing too.

I read recently that Ted Templeman refused to produce 5150 because of his loyalty to DLR. Though Templeman later produced For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge. Because he saw the light, the light that comes from Saint Sammy!

bmh67wa said...

Have you listened to any Chickenfoot yet? Sammy is still sounding great!

Mr. Mike said...

I haven't listened to Chickenfoot yet, I'll have to check them out!