Sammy Hagar & Friends
Sammy Hagar’s 25th album kicks off with the dirty slide guitar of Windin’ Down – it’s the type of song The Red Rocker (with help here from Taj Mahal) does effortlessly and encapsulates much about the man and this album – it’s laid back, rough around the edges, carries a little bit of a message, but never lets that get in the way of the fun, which may be why his catalogue is so full of high quality records without boasting a bona fide classic.
…& Friends continues that tradition – there’s an unlikely cover version of Depeche Mode’s Personal Jesus, which works surprisingly well and features Neal Schon, Michael Anthony and Chad Smith; Knockdown Dragout turns the guitars up to 11 with help from Kid Rock and Joe Satriani; and Bad On Fords & Chevrolets continues the fun, Robbie Dunn stepping in to share the mic.
It doesn’t get any more laid back than Jimmy Buffet’s ‘77 classic Margaritaville, and Hagar’s version with Toby Keith is jamming-on-the-beach gold. All We Need Is An Island takes the beachcomber vibe to the max with Heart’s Nancy Wilson, and the record closes with a searing live-in-the-studio first take of Going Down, again featuring Schon, Anthony & Smith.
Hagar has talked about wanting to get Van Halen or Metallica on board for a tune, either of which may have elevated Sammy Hagar & Friends a bit closer to a classic, but his outwardly devil-may-care presence is still irresistible enough to make this, like most of his records, pure enjoyment from start to finish.