Sammy Hagar: Sammy Hagar & Friends
Ex-Van Halen and Montrose frontman Sammy Hagar’s Sammy Hagar & Friends sees “The Red Rocker” enlisting some A-list friends on covers and new songs. These 10 run through a few styles, but pretty much stay to a semi-blues stomp with straight-ahead drumming, lots of slide playing and Sammy’s usual scream-singing in a slightly lower register.
“Not Going Down” features a trashy beat from Hagar’s ex-Montrose bandmates, Denny Carmassi on drums and Bill Church on bass, plus a solid blues lap steel from Dave Zirbel. (Zirbel is all over this record.) There’s even an upside down gospel take on Depeche Mode’s “Personal Jesus,” a chunky cover featuring Journey’s guitarist Neal Schon wailing away. Michael Anthony’s bass and Chad Smith’s drumming provide a solid low backing here as well. (With Hagar, Smith and Anthony, that’s three-quarters of Chickenfoot.)
This is an album where Hagar doesn’t pick up guitar all that much, certainly not to play lead, which he is certainly capable of. Maybe being in bands with Eddie Van Halen and Joe Satriano makes one reconsider one’s lead playing?)
Andre Thiery’s accordion pushes the Cajun “Father Sun,” Kid Rock duets with Hagar on a shouting “Knockdown Dragout,” Toby Keith is featured on a slightly salsa-like cover of the Jimmy Buffett hit, “Margaritaville,” and Heart’s Nancy Wilson lends her soft warble to the Hawaiian-sounding, equally soft “All We Need Is an Island.” Don Nix’s classic, “Going Down (Live in Studio-Take 1),” ends the album, once again with Neal Schon wailing.