Sammy Hagar has been known to throw some pretty legendary parties at his Cabo Wabo Cantina in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. When you have an address book of peeps like Sammy has, you never know who might show up and jam with him. There’s nothing quite like an exotic getaway with your toes in the sand, lots of awesome live music, an endless supply of tasty adult beverages and clothing eventually becomes optional. Ok, now that I’ve caused most of us to drift off and day dream about those surroundings, it’s time to come back down to reality before we all get fired from our jobs.
Sammy has been rocking the masses for almost four decades with Montrose, Van Halen, as a solo artist and most recently with Chickenfoot. He has just released his first album of musical collaborations in his illustrious career. Sammy Hagar and Friends may not be the most creative title in the world, but when you have friends like Taj Mahal, Toby Keith, Nancy Wilson of Heart, Kid Rock and Neal Schon of Journey making appearances I think the title nails it. The album features brand new material as well as creative re-works of some of Sammy’s favorite songs.
Let’s look at a couple of the new songs first and see what the Red Rocker and friends have to offer. “Not Going Down” is a song written specifically for Sammy by Jay Buchanan of Rival Sons. The nasty bass line that crawls throughout the entire song burrows into your head and hooks you from the start. The soulful backing vocals on the chorus along with the slide guitar add a bluesy element to the song that pops up more than once throughout the album. “Father Sun” has a feel of New Orleans to it complete with mandolin, accordion and lap steel. It this one doesn’t get you tapping your toes, then check your pulse please.
What about those guest appearances dude? Ok, ok, let’s talk about a couple of those now. “Knockdown Dragout” features the likes of Kid Rock on vocals, Denny Carmassi of Montrose on drums and a damn tasty solo from fellow Chickenfoot bandmate and guitar god Joe Satriani. It’s a high energy rocking number complete with the obligatory chant along chorus that screams rock and roll. “All We Need is an Island” slows the pace down to a mellower pace with a tropical feel and features the sugary sweet vocals of Nancy Wilson of Heart. Yeah, I’ll admit the song did transport me to a tropical island where Nancy Wilson was there waiting on me to join her for some yummy adult beverages; don’t you judge me.
Now, I know some people get turned off by cover songs, but I think these are more interpretations than covers. The Depeche Mode classic “Personal Jesus” takes a 180 degree turn in a hot, funky way with some nasty guitar work from the, still to this day, very underrated Neil Schon of Journey. Chickenfoot bandmates Michael Anthony and Chad Smith also make an appearance on this track. Holy HSAS reunion Batman! Well, almost but with Chad Smith taking the place of Michael Shrieve and Michael Anthony taking the place of Kenny Aaronson. Could Jimmy Buffet’s party standard “Margaritaville” get any better? Sammy and Toby Keith tackle this one and slow the pace down just a tad on it. They definitely add more of a tropical, calypso type of feel to it. A major thumbs up on the reworking of a song that many may have grown tired of hearing.
The deluxe version contains a DVD plus a bonus audio track entitled “Space Station #5”, which appeared on the debut album from Montrose. It features Denny Carmassi on drums, Bill Church on bass (both members of Montrose) and Joe Satriani on guitar and it was recorded live at a Ronnie Montrose tribute concert in This album could be the soundtrack to one of Sammy’s birthday bashes that he is known to throw at Cabo Wabo Cantina. The songs really do vary in style and composition, but I think that just adds to the overall atmosphere that it creates. 2012. The blistering guitar work featured on this album by both Neil Schon of Journey and Joe Satriani just may have many saying ‘Eddie who?’