My list of bucket list bands only stretches to two, the original Alice Cooper Band, and Sammy Hagar And The Wabos. Being an eternal optimist, I hold out for the much touted reunion by the surviving members of Detroit’s finest, but the Red Rocker himself? Nope. There’s more chance of a Van Hagar reunion hitting these shores than there is of Sammy bringing his kick ass party band over here to show us how it’s done. Couple that with the fact that I have nil chance of getting through US customs with my current passport photo, and it looks like this is one bucket list moment not getting crossed off any time soon.
Sammy and his Wabos are one of the finest live party bands around. Numerous import DVDs wave the white flag as they see my stubby digits reaching for them. They’re a band that play like their lives depend on it, with smiles plastered all over their faces… a celebration. So, what we have here is a mixture of classic Sammy Hagar/Red Rocker American rock, and laid back “island life” Sammy. Made up of tracks from three of Sammy’s post Van Halen albums, ‘Red Voodoo’, ‘Ten 13’ and ‘Livin’ It Up’, along with two unreleased tracks, ‘No Worries’ and ‘Never Said Goodbye’. You want rockers? Then check out ‘Stand Up’ and ‘Ten 13’, which crush like my last cholesterol check up. The bass from Mona Gnader is pulverising, as is the piledriving drumming of David Lauser… or check out ‘Serious Juju’. Zeppelin-esque in it’s execution, the guitar work of Vic Johnson is spellbinding, and it’s easy to see why he’s been with Hagar for decades. Check out the slide work on ‘The Real Deal’, swampy, dirty and nasty! Something lighter? Check out ‘Shag’ (titter ye not!). With it’s horn section, it grooves like a motherfucker baby… or the full on beastie that is ‘Sam I Am’.
Need some island life? ‘Tropic Of Capricorn’ is glorious, thanks to the soaring harmony vocals and the uplifting vibe throughout. This is happy shit. Check your negative waves at the door, baby. ‘Maui Wowie’ is a short Hawaii-style instrumental, that begins with what sounds like someone lighting up a doobie… allegedly sounds like that. Of course, it could be something else completely. ‘Livin’ On A Coastline’ and ‘One Sip’ are more of the same happiness vibe. Mood hoovers need not apply. Jimmy Buffett for a new generation! Sammy has a sensitive side, and he’s not afraid to show it, so the likes of ‘Little Bit More’ and ‘Never Said Goodbye’ are as strong as you would expect from someone who left more power ballads on the studio floor than some bands have had in their entire career.
Montrose are rightly revered. Sammy Hagar’s time with Van Halen will always split the rock community (Team Sammy all the way…) but this compilation is a welcome reminder of how potent solo Hagar is, and how much ass The Wabos do indeed kick.
Review: Dave Stott
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