RATINGS: A = must own B = buy it C= average D = yawn F = puke

Foghat – Under the Influence
Foghat Records

Rating: A

Some bands not only defy time, they seem to exist outside of it.  Foghat is one such entity.  They are able to deliver, time and time again, music that is true to their nature, yet, despite not being the flavor of the day, sounds fresh and energetic.  I suppose this is just an example of a band of brothers, who also happen to be first class musicians, remaining true to their vision.  Suffice it to say, it works.

Foghat has delivered a huge slab of bluesy, boogie rock that rivals any of their previous releases.  This is an album of music, each song standing on its own merits with no filler.  There is passion, honesty and most of all, a bunch of kick-ass, feel-good rock ‘n’ roll.

This is no mistake. If you have had the pleasure of seeing Foghat live in the past few years, then you know what I am about to say: The band arrives in your town, they plug in and two hours later you wonder what just hit you. The blues start to ooze, the leads simmer and soar, and the slide work and the boogie are amazing with gritty harmonic vocals... plus Roger’s thunder... these musicians work well together, and their show is consistently excellent. This release is the culmination of their dedication.

The album took three years to put together, mostly due the bands high demand to perform on the road.  When they found time, they recorded and wrote and re-worked... and even re-made their own standard. The result is an album of some new tunes, some reconditioned ones and one classic 40th anniversary remake of their biggest hit, “Slow Ride.”

Foghat seems to be able to look backwards, move forwards and yet still remain relevant to their genre in the present moment.  The only way a band can do that is total commitment to their craft, their creativity and their fans.  Foghat is the working man and woman’s rock band… always has been and always will be. Founding member, drummer Roger Earl, singer/guitarist Charlie Huhn, lead guitarist Bryan Bassett and bassist Craig MacGregor -who has played on and off with them since 1976- came together in a big way to put out one of the best blues rock albums of this millennium.  They, however, did not do it alone!

The band brought in some names that are sure to be a Foghat fan’s true blast from the past, including the man who hired the boys before they were Foghat, Kim Simmonds from Savoy Brown.  Ex-Hat bass thumper Nick Jameson also returned to lay the groove down to the new version of “Slow Ride,” a tune he recorded during his time in the band. 

Earl hired Grammy-nominated Tom Hambridge (known for his work with Buddy Guy, Lynyrd Skynyrd and George Thorogood) to produce the album. Roger recalls how the band came to work with Tom, “I met Tom when presenting three awards to Buddy Guy and Tom (his producer) at the Memphis Blues Awards. Tom said that he was a fan, and would love to produce a Foghat record. Putting that in the back of my mind, this was the perfect opportunity. Tom came down to Boogie Motel South to meet the band and we clicked and started writing together immediately. Working with him was inspirational!”

This release is all killer with no filler.  From the opening title track to the revamped “Slow Ride” this is an album of pure rock that deserves to not only be heard, but heard loud and often. The band boogies on tunes like “Knock It Off” and “Upside of Lonely.”  They rock hard on tracks like “Heart Gone Cold” and the Savoy Brown classic “He’s Got a Ring in His Nose.”  They bring out the blues in “Honey Do List” and “Made Up My Mind” and they do a cool version of “Heard It Through the Grapevine” just for kicks and grins.  The band displays a southern rock style on the underrated track “Ghost” as well, which features some fine slide playing by Bassett.  Of course, there are plenty of classic Foghat sounding moments, whether a remake or an original offering… perhaps the most evident being the rockin’ “Hot Mama.”  This one would have sounded right at home on Fool For the City. 

At the end of the day, Foghat is a fan-friendly, class act whose members are still pushing themselves to excellence, remaining true to who they are and what they do. 

One can’t ask for any more than that!

‘Under the Influence’ Track Listing:
1. “Under the Influence”
2. “Knock It Off”
3. “Ghost”
4. “She’s Got a Ring in His Nose”
5. “Upside of Lonely”
6. “Heard It Through the Grapevine”
7. “Made Up My Mind”
8. “Hot Mama”
9. “Heart Gone Cold”
10. “Honey Do List”
11. “All Because of You”
12. “Slow Ride”

By Jeb “Slow Ride” Wright