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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars They Didn't Just Kick Ass---They Yanked It Inside Out and Back, March 30, 2010
This review is from: Live (MP3 Music)
Foghat from the outset was good for a rip-roaring brand of hard rock and blues, but there was an argument to make that the quartet---former Savoy Brown stalwarts Lonesome Dave Peverett (lead vocals, guitar) and Roger Earl (drums; a third Savoy expatriate, bassist Tony Stevens, who'd played with Peverett and Earl in the second and best Savoy Brown incarnation, left Foghat somewhere between their third and fourth albums); slide guitarist extraordinnaire Rod Price; bassist Craig McGregor---was far more effective in live performance than on their solid if sometimes inconsistent studio recordings.

Small wonder: they hit the road running, blowing the likes of Bachman-Turner Overdrive off the stage, and built a following almost more on their exuberant concerts than their crunchy recordings, even if their fifth studio album, the remarkable "Fool for the City," was their best-seller to date and yielded their first taste of something resembling a hit single. ("Slow Ride.") If timing is everything, Foghat couldn't have timed their first live album better: they decided to do it at a time when a) "Fool for the City" was still on the best-seller lists; and, live albums were suddenly proving career-makers for the like of Kiss and (especially) Peter Frampton.

With their road-warrior image and the no-questions-asked crunch of their live show, Foghat should have been a natural. And they were---"Foghat Live" became their best-seller of all, and it deserved to be. They were wise enough not to try putting their whole show onto a single set, if they wanted to introduce the uninitiated into the big meat of what they offered, and the decision plus the band's no-frills performances clicked. Others may have made a vice out of straight-up bloozaboogie but Foghat played as though it still mattered, still had legitimacy, and were more than willing to let you figure it out for yourself if you had room to breathe (and were willing to shake off your hipster aspirations) between their exercises and exuberance.

Foghat might have been slitting their own throat to kick off both their concerts and this live set with "Fool for the City's" title track, however, because live they absolutely demolish the studio version---from the kickoff from Earl's drums you get the distinct feeling that the train they're looking to hop to the city can't pull in fast enough to pick them up, and Price, who's as clean a lead guitarist as he is a slide player, peels off a pair of solos that more than hold their own with any of the bigger-reputation players on the circuit. "Home in My Hand" becomes the anthem it was intended to be and shows a side of the band even their most stalwart fans probably underrate: their vocal harmonies, the a cappella coda telegraph a surprising and welcome tension-breaker. And if you thought their piledriving version of "I Just Want to Make Love to You," the Willie Dixon composition (for Muddy Waters) that the Rolling Stones first turned to churn over a decade earlier, was enough to make you look for the missing Stones in the rearview, just wait until you get this version---from the moment Peverett and Price open it with a smart little guitar duel to the blistering finish, Foghat makes even their own studio original seem like an exhausted warmup.

"Honey Hush"---essentially, wrapping most of the original Big Joe Turner lyric around the Yardbirds' reimagining of "The Train Kept a-Rollin'"---gets played at 78 rpm in these hands, which probably causes more than a few knowing headshakings and clappings when Peverett sings out "Are you ready to take a slow ride?" to usher in what would become Foghat's signature piece. Of course, "slow" doesn't mean "sluggish," and here again they take what's already a hit single and drive it right through the earth. If Lynyrd Skynyrd wanted to challenge Foghat to an encore contest, they just might have a difficult time throwing even "Free Bird" down up against this loping, pounding onslaught that shifts into sixth gear with striking aplomb for a charging finale.

It's a tribute to the sensibility of their original concept that, when the signature Foghat lineup reunited in the mid-to-late 1990s, before Peverett's death of cancer, they could still crank it out with energy comparable to the original and produce a second live album worthy of the first. Worthy, but not quite equal. Lots of rock and roll bands of Foghat's prime era got themselves and their live albums described as "kicking ass"; Foghat was one of the few who didn't just kick it, they yanked it inside out and back, on both those counts and a few others wouldn't have dared let themselves consider.
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jul 29, 2011 11:22:54 AM PDT
awesome review! awesome album!
probably the greatest live record not many people talk about.
this record just kicks a$$.
the solos on Honey Hush are just insane.
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Location: Las Vegas, Nevada

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