In the late fifties, Danny & The Juniors told us "Rock And Roll Is Here To Stay"; about twenty years later, Neil Young reiterated that with "My My, Hey Hey, Rock And Roll Is Here To Stay"; and they, as well as the many others uttering similar sentiments, were right. The amazing thing about this is that many great bands from the era right between when Danny and Neil made those claims are still doin' the rockin' and rollin'. One of those great bands is Foghat, and as Roger Earl - co-founder of the band tells us on the disc's liner notes - he's been at it for almost sixty years. Time really does fly when you're having a good time, doesn't it Roger?
Foghat's latest release, Sonic Mojo, features: Roger Earl on drums, percussion and background vocals; Bryan Bassett on lead, slide & bass guitar, and background vocals; Scott Holt on lead vocals and lead guitar; Rodney Quinn on bass; and special guest Eddie LeFebvre on percussion. The disc contains a dozen tracks with a fifty-percent mix of band originals and covers. Notably, a few of the tracks were co-written by Roger's long time friend and band mate in the early years of Savoy Brown, the late and great Kim Simmonds. Since Kim had been invited to play on it, Foghat is dedicating Sonic Mojo to his memory.
Like a lot of bands with British roots that were formed in the seventies, Foghat has always had one foot in the blues - and now, with the addition of blues rocker extraordinaire Scott Holt, that will be even more prevalent. His dynamics are immediately evident on the disc's opening track, a blues infused rocker titled "She's A Little Bit Of Everything", one of the three tracks that Kim collaborated with the band on. Right out of the gate, between Scott's stellar vocals; his back and forth smokin' guitar leads with Bryan; and the thunderous rhythm Roger and Rodney are battering out; all have me thinking I may have just heard the disc's best track.
Unlike the woman being sung about above, "Mean Woman Blues" (Claude DeMetrius) is about a woman who's as mean as she can be. Oddly enough, Scott seems to like her that way. With the guitars getting in their licks, this one features Roger, Rodney and Eddie locked into a smooth dance floor filling groove on the rhythm and percussion.
With a title like "Drivin' On", another Simmonds/Foghat collaboration, I feel absolutely no need to tell you that this one's a flat out smoker. Think "Hooker 'n' Heat" on steroids and there you have it. Musically, it's Bryan - with his monstrous slide guitar runs, and Roger - who, while having that one foot in the blues is still one of the best rock drummers in the business, who are burning through the gears on this one.
"How Many More Years" (Chester Burnett) is one of the more relaxed tracks of the lot. Inasmuch as Foghat can rock the blues, they can also slow it down as good as any traditional blues band can. As the position of lead singer became open when Charlie Huhn retired, Roger and the guys - who had already had a working relationship with him - could not have made a better choice as his replacement than Scott Holt. Hearing Scott sing makes me think he'd have had gotten the job even if he wasn't a guitar god - of which Foghat now have two.
So while reading Billboard, do you think you might fall off your chair seeing Foghat having a song listed on the country charts? Before you say yes, you need to listen to "Wish I'd Been There" - a collaboration with Roger's brother Colin Earl (Mungo Jerry). The full line, which is actually the songs chorus line is: "I wish I had been there when Hank Williams came to town", and it is indeed a catchy sing-a-long. It's not that far fetched to imagine a bunch of country cuties with their cut-offs, cowboy hats and boots, mouthing every word to this song like they do at Blake or Luke shows. While explaining this one in the liner notes, Roger wrote "Foghat does country??" and If I may take the liberty of answering that I'll go with "Yes, they do.....and not just vocally!".
Be it B. B. King singing about her in the early fifties, with Johnny Ace laying down some serious boogie woogie piano runs, or Foghat singing about her some seventy years later with Roger - and this time Bryan on bass - leading the way with profound rhythm, you just can't take it away from her....."She's Dynamite". As you'd expect with any cover of the king's, this smoker features dynamite blues guitar licks from Scott.
The search for the "Promised Land" does require a good amount of traveling, and this rendition of a Chuck Berry song is traveling music at it's best. Be careful though, it's one of those I can't drive fifty-five, pedal to the metal kind of tracks. Additionally, It's country vibe totally suits the cities along the route.
Other tracks on this outstanding and quite diverse release include: three more originals titled "I Don't Appreciate You"; "Time Slips Away"; and "Black Days & Blue Nights"; "Let Me Love You Baby" (Willie Dixon); and "Song For the Life" ((Rodney J. Cowell);
If you've not yet received a copy of Sonic Mojo for airplay, please contact Linda Arcell-Earl at firstname.lastname@example.org - and should like to find out more about what's going on with Foghat, just go to - www.foghat.com. Remember, wherever you go and whomever you speak with, please tell them their friend the Blewzzman sent you.