Sammy Hagar has had an amazing career when you look back at it from Montrose, through to Van Halen, coupled with a successful solo career and more recently the supergroup Chickenfoot.
This album with all its guests could sound disjointed, especially given some of the unusual cover versions but it all works surprisingly well. The only shame is that the Van Halen brothers kyboshed the idea Sammy Hagar had to re-record some Van Halen tunes and maybe write one new song with them.
Highlights? Kid Rock is always good value and has a blast on ‘Knockdown Angel’ with Joe Satriani ripping it up on guitar. Two of the best covers are Bob Seger’s ‘Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Man’ (Hagar’s long time drummer David Lauser plays on this one), which Sammy Hagar makes his own and the eyebrow raising version of ‘Personal Jesus’ by Depeche Mode. Gone are the synths and instead the Chickenfoot rhythm section of Michael Anthony and Chad Smith drive the beat along, with Journey’s Neal Schon guesting on guitar.
Nice touch having his son Aaron duet with him on ‘Father Sun’ and speaking of duets ‘All We Need Is An Island’ is another lovely song, where Heart’s Nancy Wilson combines well with Hagar’s vocals. Montrose get a look in with a new take on ‘Space Station #5’, where Hagar is joined by fellow Montrose members Bill Church and Danny Carmassi and Joe Satriani fills in for the late Ronnie Montrose.
One of the best albums released featuring Sammy Hagar and a great listen from beginning to end, as the listener gets swept along in the undoubted joy and fun the musicians had in recording these songs.
Review by Jason Ritchie
Currently touring his “Four Decades of Rock” show in the US, Sammy Hagar is nothing short of a living legend. Having fronted Montrose, Van Halen and Chickenfoot- as well as enjoying a successful solo career, he has sold millions of records in a career that began way back in 1967. On top of that he owns several successful clubs, founded Cabo Wabo tequila and is behind Sammy’s Beach Bar Rum amongst other things.
New album “Sammy Hagar & Friends” finds him collaborating with the likes of Kid Rock, Toby Keith, Nancy Wilson plus members of his previous bands. With a mixture of original songs and covers the album has party written right through it. Opening track “Winding Down” features Taj Mahal and has an almost autobiographical feel to it, “Not Going Down” was written for Hagar by Rival Sons’ Jay Buchanan whilst a cover of Depeche Mode’s “Personal Jesus”, complete with some gospel like female backing vocals, sounds like it should have come from the pen of Hagar. The triple whammy of “Knockdown Dragout” (featuring Kid Rock), Bob Seger’s “Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Man” and “Going Down”- the latter recorded live in the studio in one take and with some great energy and chemistry (it’s essentially Chickenfoot with Neal Schon on guitar), are outstanding.
The album’s gentler moments, the rum soaked “All We Need Is An Island” (featuring Heart’s Nancy Wilson) and a run through Jimmy Buffet’s “Margaritaville” featuring country superstar Toby Keith, fit nicely in with tracks like the country tinged “Father Sun”.
The deluxe edition of “Sammy Hagar & Friends ” features a live version of Montrose hit “Space Station # 5″ recorded at a tribute to Ronnie Montrose last year, the band having Joe Satriani playing his guitar parts. There is also a DVD which contains a making of documentary and the video for “Knockdown Dragout”.
Sammy Hagar is 66 next week and shows no signs of slowing down- that is good news for us fans as a musical landscape without Hagar is gonna be a whole lot blander.
Review by Nikk Gunns
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