and a half
Like the end of the old Queen song, all we need is one world wide vision but gimmie fried chicken. THE supergroup (only they don't like to be called that) of 2009 is hands down Chickenfoot, the Marvel team up of ex-Van Halen Michael Anthony, Sammy Hagar, current Chili Pepper Chad Smith and ex-Joe Satriani Joe Satriani. Not since the '89-90 one-two punch of Bad English and Damn Yankees has AOR fans had so much to get excited about.
And the band has been rewarded for strong sales of their debut self titled CD. I got it a few weeks back and have heard it enough to put something out there about Chickenfoot. I'll start with the good news: this band sounds exactly like how it would appear on paper. Anthony and Hagar pair up like the Van Hagar of old, Joe Satriani unleashes his quicksilver guitar work all over and Chad Smith keeps the beat lively (even if this is the least funky drumming I've heard from him). Satriani provides the meaty guitar riffs that gives Sammy something to work with when he goes for those heavy lifting anthemic choruses (something that in my opinion works better here than when Hagar was in VH). And to give extra credit, Michael Anthony's bass playing is looser and more vibrant than it has been in ages - free of the repetitive thumping he was relegated to in VH.
This band lives for those swinging mid tempo rhythms, as exemplified on the excellent "Soap On A Rope". "Turnin' Left" has a chugging groove that gives Hagar room for his strongest hook on the disc. And "Sexy Little Thing" has the immediate feel of something made in the 80's, that classic melodic rock sheen that once dominated the airwaves decades ago. Plus the power ballad "Learning To Fall" calls to mind bic lighters and overblown music videos with supermodels.
The only disappointment about Chickenfoot is that it never surpasses their established capabilities. It's a strong album filled with AOR goodness that folks like me crave, and while they impress they don't kick my ass at any given point. No surprises or anything truly mind blowing coming from the combination of these players (because as individuals they're already mind blowing). Maybe in 2009 it's too much to ask for an AOR album like that. As it is, Chickenfoot is a fine hard rock album packed with heart and more than a little skill. It's as good as old school hard rock gets these days. Oh Yeah!