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NOT REMASTERED BUT: STONE BLUE-The Greatest FOGHAT Studio LP + One of the Greatest Live Albums Ever!!!
on August 1, 2012
First off, I must agree with a fellow reviewer that this particular release DOES sound suspiciously like the original 1990 CD versions(not like the TRULY remastered Castle Records 2CD sets which are getting quite rare & expensive). So if you are buying this disc ONLY to replace your OLD CD versions of "Stone Blue" & "Live" this is NOT the release for you. Shell out the extra bucks for the Castle Records Remastered 2CD versions instead. HOWEVER, if you are purchasing this release because you simply want to own two of the greatest releases in the FOGHAT catalog, then this reasonably priced set is for you! The pairing of 1977's "Foghat LIVE" with 1978's brilliant and often overlooked "Stone Blue" LP makes for nearly 80 minutes of the most hard-hitting, quality blues rock ever recorded!
FOGHAT's 1977 "LIVE" is simply legendary & remains one of the greatest live albums of all-time. Unlike so many other groups of the 70s who needed 2LPs to demonstrate their live prowess, FOGHAT(like PAT TRAVERS BAND-"Live-Go For What You Know" '79 masterpiece)simply laid down a single LP with six songs of blazing FOGHAT perfection! "LIVE" is so great because it contains three of FOGHAT's biggest hits "Fool For The City", "I Just Wanna Make Love To You", and the definitive version of "Slow Ride" played at a MUCH higher intensity level than the studio versions, alongside three of FOGHAT's greatest non-single tunes: the classic "Home In My Hand", the hard blues brilliance of "Road Fever", and the over the top, energized to the max, and highlight of the album "Honey Hush". "LIVE" is truly a party packed into one album. From start to finish it never lets up and builds to a raging climax with "Honey Hush" and an extended blaze-out finale version of "Slow Ride". An undisputed classic of 70s live hard rock & roll blues madness.
"Stone Blue" from 1978 is unfortunately often overlooked(usually unintentionally) by many FOGHAT fans, which is a tragedy because in my opinion it is(along with "Night Shift" from '76) the GREATEST FOGHAT studio release. Legendary producer Eddie Kramer(Jimi Hendrix, Kiss, Led Zeppelin, Robin Trower, April Wine, etc.) captures FOGHAT's sound brilliantly on "Stone Blue", making it one of the heaviest, fattest sounding albums in the catalog. Opening with the classic hard rockin' title track "Stone Blue", the album immediately gets down to business. Featuring killer guitar work from both 'Lonesome' Dave Peverett & Rod Price, the song builds into one of the heaviest songs in the FOGHAT arsenal(as well as one of the catchiest). Track 2 is an awesome rendition of the oft-covered Robert Johnson standard "Sweet Home Chicago"(on "Stone Blue" FOGHAT chose to include three covers of early blues tunes which they stated had a profound influence on them as young musicians). One might ask, "how many times do we have to hear this song get covered?" However, if EVER there was a band that could deliver the ultimate hard rockin' version of this legendary song it was FOGHAT! Certainly they MORE than deliver the goods with 'Lonesome' Dave's truly excellent vocals, Rod Price's AMAZING slide-guitar work, and a super fat rhythm assualt from bassist Craig MacGregor and drummer Roger Earl. Track 3 "Easy Money" is a bona fide FOGHAT lost treasure! This up-tempo hard rocker features more killer vocals from Dave and super groovy bass from MacGregor along with a killer Chuck Berry-esque solo which eventually morphs into a vintage Peverett lead. This song quite simply ROCKS!!! Next up is the highlight of the album, the epic monster "Midnight Madness". Clocking in at just a hair under 7 minutes this tune is possibly the greatest "deep album" track in FOGHAT history. Beginning with several rad, darkly melodic verses sung expertly by 'Lonesome Dave' the song gradually builds into arguably the heaviest FOGHAT song and features some of the most thoughtful & killer guitar-work of any FOGHAT track, all the while maintaining this great dark stoned out vibe. At approx. the 4:45 mark 'Lonesome Dave' begins my all-time favorite FOGHAT guitar solo, one that builds and builds into an up-tempo blaze-out which is sadly lost due to a enraging fade-out. I'd give ANYTHING to hear a version of "Midnight Madness" WITHOUT the fade-out!!! All the same, it's truly a overlooked gem of a track. The fifth track is the Elmore James classic "It Hurts Me Too". FOGHAT does an equally brilliant job of adding their unique signature to this classic tune much in the same way as they did with "Sweet Home Chicago". FOGHAT's version of "It Hurts Me Too" is second ONLY to the classic Pigpen-era early 70's GRATEFUL DEAD versions in my opinion(granted FOGHAT's version is VERY different and MUCH HEAVIER than the DEAD's more traditional vocal-based approach). A very memorable & heart-felt cover of a classic song. Next up is "High On Love", a hard-rockin' tune which epitomizes everything great about FOGHAT. The song is riff heavy & super-groovy(MacGregor's bass is simply fantastic) and very catchy with a great bridge/chorus. Of course, we also are blessed with more fantastic lead guitar work courtesy of 'Lonesome' Dave & Rod Price. "High On Love" is vintage FOGHAT firing on all cylinders & rockin' like there's no tomorrow. The 7th track is a classic cover of "Chevrolet". Once again, FOGHAT makes this classic tune their own, bulking it up to the point of overload. This is a perfect example of how to CORRECTLY do a cover of a song!!! Make it your own while maintaining the elemental integrity which makes the track great(and worthy of covering). At the 2:50 mark "Chevrolet" breaks down into a thunderous drum/chant ending which perfectly wraps up another awesome cover in undeniable FOGHAT fashion. The final track on this great album, "Stay With Me", is a truly powerful melodic blues ballad played at FOGHAT decibel levels. 'Lonesome' Dave's vocals are once again excellent(a truly under-rated vocalist if ever there was one!) and the tune has a chorus with a tremendous hook. This song could have been a huge hit. Rod Price's excellent acoustic guitar work(underneath the layers of electric guitars) is also noteworthy as it adds tremendous dynamics to this great song. A perfect track to end a truly awesome but far too-often forgotten album.
So in conclusion, while this release may not feature truly remastered versions(like the Castle 2CD sets) it IS an affordable way to purchase two essential albums. If you don't own either of these albums(or even if you own one but not the other) but are a fan of FOGHAT or maybe you're younger and want to check out this classic UK group, then this pairing of "LIVE" and "Stone Blue" is a must!!! Especially at such a low cost, you'll be buying pure gold when it comes to the quality of the music...R.I.P. 'Lonesome' Dave Peverett and Rod Price. Truly one of the GREATEST guitar duos in rock history!!!