Sunday, October 2, 2011

Music review -- Chickenfoot III

chickenfoot III

I should mention first off that I really really wanted to really really like this cd. I came across the first Chickenfoot cd by accident and thought, "Oh this looks interesting" and was totally blown away by it. I turned a bunch of my friends on to it, who loved it as well. So I had this cd on pre-order with Amazon as soon as it became available.

And it arrived via a courier service. So first off -- hey Amazon, wtf?! My PO is good enough to deliver your stinkin' Harry Potter books, but not my Chickenfoot CD? What's up with that?!

Anyway . . .

I do love this cd, but it is different from their debut cd. My impression of the first release for these guys was that Satriani was playing guitar like a guy who had been released from prison and handed a guitar. He put something different on every track, trying all sorts of different sonic flourishes he'd been dying to try for years.

While not a mellow cd at all, it has a "quieter" feel to it. And though I'm not one to try and read a lot into song lyrics, there does seem to be an underlying theme to this cd. Now, Sammy Hagar is a great rock vocalist, but as a lyricist? Well, if you're looking for thought provoking, deep imagery, you might want to pull out some old vinyl from the Moody Blues or Yes, you know?

That said, the first track Last Temptation is a solid rocker about a reformed hellraiser who enters a bar or strip club and finds himself getting those old feelings again. Our guy wrestles with himself, feeling like he's in the Garden of Eden facing the serpent and apple and doesn't want to go there. Again.

Track two Alright Alright is a foot stomper that was initially, and still is, my favorite track on the cd. Chad Smith pounds the sh*t out of a driving beat and Satriani noodles in some great stuff as well as some of his trademark riffs.

Different Devil revists the theme again as we have a guy whose wife might be looking for some "strange" as he puts it. The song is basically a "better the devil you know" story, hence the title I suppose. It sounds like something John Mellencamp would have put out in the eighties, except with infinitely better guitar work (obviously). But the song grows on you and is another of my favorites on the disc.

Up Next is Sammy saying that when his time on this earth is done and he's standing before St. Peter, he's gonna proudly stand with the deeds and foibles of his life, be respectful but unbowed. It's got a defiant chorus and hard driving guitar line.

The next track Lighten Up starts out with a fuzzy keyboard riff then gets its rock on big time. Still noodling around the same theme, this song seems to be about a guy telling his girl to "lighten up" a bit. He notes that she always gets what she wants anyway, and he's under a lot of pressure in his job, so you know . . .

Come closer is a ballad that focuses more on Sammy's vocals. And that isn't a bad thing, he's got the right voice for this kind of song style. It's actually a very beautiful song with Satriani weaving a delicate guitar balance between strums and lead solos. It's a love song, basically, as Sammy tells his girl she's the kind of woman he's always needed.

I'm not quite sure what to make of the next track. Three and a Half Letters gets it's name from three short letters Sammy reads during the song. I don't know the background here -- does Sammy have a charitable organization he runs or do people simply send him and the band letters begging for help? The missives point out that homelessness and joblessness are crossing all demographics and people are reaching out for help. The song consists of Sammy reading each letter then a following thumping chorus where he screams about "needing a job." I guess it's his attempt at being topical. I'm not sure of the guy' politics, but maybe he should have addressed the song to the current administration. I don't know.

Big Foot is a straight up rocker that is basically a "I'm comin' to get ya babe" kind of song. He gives a nice shout out to Zep with a Houses of the Holy reference. That always gets points in my book.

Dubai Blues along with the last song on the disc, might be the most perfectly constructed songs on the cd. A lament from an obscenely rich guy who's got everything . . . but he hasn't got the girl. And he can't buy the girl. It's a great song that makes you want to sing along with it.

Track ten, Something going wrong opens like a country tune with strummy guitars, Sammy singing with a twang and a little bit of banjo. Maybe it's the southern boy in me, but a little jangly banjo always gives me goose bumps. Satriani does some great solo work on this song that does rock, but not in such a way that I couldn't imagine this song playing on a country music station. There's a smokiness to his guitar work here, I don't know how else to describe it. It makes me hark back to my college days and Robin Trower and lost weekends. I love it.

There is an unlisted eleveth track, but to be honest, I have no idea what it's about. Sammy's yelling about "them" lying about everyone from Jesus to bin Laden. Who's lying? Why? Truthfully, I cut the cd off before this track gets going because it just doesn't do anything for me. Maybe I'm missing something, but I don't think so.

Like I said at the beginning, this cd is different from the guy's first release, but it is still a great cd. I do love it, perhaps more so because they simply didn't carbon copy the first one. There's some growth and reach with the songs and their sounds.

Also, I know this is their second release, and I called it "III" in the title because . . . well, everyone is calling it that. I'm assuming it is because of the 3D effects in the disc packaging. Maybe? Personally, I think the guys are just goofing with us. Their first cd package had that temperature sensitive action, where I had to tuck the damn thing under my shirt in winter to read the liner info. This one has lots of 3D images and a little silliness on the disc itself and the package comes with a set of 3D glasses. I just think these guys are having fun with this stuff and it shows in the music. In a good way.

Everyone is still at the top of their games here. Sammy's vocals are solid, and even though he tends to borrow flourishes from earlier in his career, he might be one of the best rock vocalists out there. Michael Anthony may be a solid bass player, but his strength is as a harmonizer. His voice takes the songs beyond simple rock song vocals and turns them into something that has a depth and texture you don't hear with most screamers in the biz.

I enjoy listening to Chad Smith on the drums. I have to wonder how much he enjoys playing with a band that doesn't include wierdos like Anthony Kiedis and Flea leaping around like spazzes all the time. He's got great chops back there and it's nice to be able to finally hear them.

And Joe Satriani . . . 'nuff said.

My recommendation -- buy this freekin' cd!

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