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Foghat - Live

Review: 178
Date: 29 May 04

 


Rating: 3 Stars

Musicians:
Lonesome Dave Peverett - Lead Vocals, Guitar
Rod Price - Guitar and Vocals
Roger Earl - Drums
Craig MacGregor - Bass and Vocals

Tracks Listing:
Fool For The City
Home In My Hand
I Just Wanna Make Love To You
Road Fever
Honey Hush
Slow Ride

 


Lonesome Dave Peverett, Tone Stevens, and Roger Earl were all in the most stable and popular of the lineups of Savoy Brown, along with band main man and guitarist Kim Simmonds. But after five albums and countless nights on the road, Lonesome Dave Peverett thought it was time to strike out on his own. Bidding a hasty cheerio to Kim Simmonds and leaving him to look for new musicians to carry on the Savoy Brown flag, Dave took Roger and Tone with him and went off to conquer the world. Leaving the security of the Savoy Brown name, they moved to America and welcomed American Rod Price into their ranks to share lead guitar duties with Dave. Rod specialized in slide guitar work and this gave the band a pretty unique duel guitar attack, which was matched up with Dave's forceful vocals; and with the established rhythm section of Tone and Roger the floor was set for the band to take to the road with their version of blues and boogie.

Bearsville Records got their signature and in 1971 the first album was released under the Foghat banner. Foghat was a word made up by Lonesome Dave minutes before they went on stage for the first time. So contrary to popular believe, it doesn't actually mean anything. Four more albums followed, but before the fifth the first of many lineup changes occurred when Tone Stevens left the band. He was unhappy with the progress the band was making, leaning more to the pop/rock boogie so beloved of American stadium goers in the early seventies, rather than his beloved blues. However, that were feelings he put behind him when he re-joined the Band some fifteen years later. I must say that I have always been a great admirer of Tone Stevens bass playing and songwriting skills, but at the time I was delighted to find that his replacement Craig MacGregor was more than adequate. Anyway, he was too big to argue with.

To this point Foghat's career can be summarized easily by a comparison to the English Premier Football League (that's the round ball game). If Foghat were a team and each album represented a season, then Foghat spent four years in the first division, slowly rising up the division. In fact they reached the play offs in their fourth season with the album 'Fool For The City' (1975), before gaining promotion to the Premier League the following season with 'Night Shift' (1976). Then in 1977 they won the Premier League, the F.A. Cup, and the European Cup with their ‘Live’ album, which fully represented the band where they were at the time.

Next Season they did O.K. with 'Stone Blue' (1978.) But after a couple more seasons they found themselves back in the bottom half of division one, which is pretty much where they stayed for the rest of their careers. Just like Queen’s ‘Park Rangers’, everybody loves them even if they are in the lower divisions, but nobody is quite sure who actually still goes to see them – but it’s obvious, people do.

Back in 1977 when ‘Live' came out, it turned Foghat into one of America's top drawing live acts. To the rest of the world they didn't mean a thing. They would be lucky to fill the Marquee Club, which holds about 200 people, in their home country in England, and then it would be mainly American tourists. Whereas in America they could pull in audiences of up to 200,000 screaming fans, and 'Live' itself went platinum. Strange old world.

On 'Live' you get six great big slabs of Foghat's boogie/rock. Right from the over the top introduction, where the announcer screams himself hoarse in six words such is his excitement, it's party time all the way. As you can tell by the titles, the songs do not have much prophetic reasoning behind them. All the lyrics are about living, loving, drinking, and surviving on the road. At three minutes and thirty seconds of the second number in 'Home In My Hand', the band gives the song a false ending, only to come crashing straight back in with another verse louder than previously played, and breaking into an acopella verse before finally finishing the song. Showing off the dynamics learnt by the band during their continuous touring. Add to this Dave Peverett's between song stage banter, and some explosive slide guitar from Rod Price, particularly during the two versions of the hit singles ‘I Just Wanna Make Love To You' and 'Slow Ride', which are both extended to eight minutes. See what I mean about the songs now? I wonder what those two are about?

You have got a truly entertaining, nearly forty minutes, great Rock 'n' Roll. Now this is where Mott gets rowdy. Thirty eight minutes, thirty eight seconds is not long enough for today's C.D.s. I am sure that when these concerts were recorded that Foghat were on stage for more than forty minutes. So there must be some more recorded songs that could be slotted back in, now that we have the longer CD format. Forty minutes may have been O.K. in the days of vinyl because of time constraints, but a CD can take up to seventy two minutes without any loss of sound quality. Then when you add to that the slipshod recording from the original, you can see why so many people get disillusioned by the music business. It says on the packaging ''Digital Re-mastering by Bill Inglot and Ken Perry at K-Disc.‘ Well, obviously at K-Disc re-mastering consists of putting the vinyl L.P. on, press play on record to CD, do not check the levels, (dramatic loss of bottom end from the vinyl edition), have a beer, and wait till it’s finished. What a waste. Still, someday somebody will probably do it properly.

Later Foghat would get the Spinal Tap's and almost have a revolving door policy, with bass players in particular lasting alarmingly short times between coming and going. (I counted at least nine on their rock family tree including at sometime both the talents of Robbie Alter and Kenny Aaronson.) In 1986 there were two Foghat's, one under the leadership of drummer Roger Earl, and one with Lonesome Dave Peverett, with none of the other founding members in either band. Even Spinal Tap did not have those problems. But in 1989 wise heads prevailed and Roger and Dave patched up their differences, while Tone and Ron were recalled to the ranks. For ten further years the original members of Foghat ate up that ‘Road Fever’, after which Rod Price called a halt to his Foghat days and went solo.

In 1991 Lonesome Dave was cruelly taken from us by cancer of the kidneys. Still today Roger Earl and Tone Stevens keep the Foghat flag flying, playing live the length and breadth of the United States of America together with new vocalist Charlie Huhn - dedicating every night to Lonesome Dave.

'Live' is a fine album from the seventies, which is just begging for a proper upgrade. If you want to have a listen anyway, remember to turn the bass up.

 

Pawed by Mott The Dog
Remastered by Ella Crew

E-mail: review@mott-the-dog.com


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