by Tim Durling
Label: Capitol Records 11812
Sammy Hagar: vocals, guitar
Bill Church - bass
Alan "Fitz"Gerald - keyboards
Gary Pihl - guitar
Denny Carmassi - drums
Steve's worthy review of the debut Montrose album inspired me to dig this chestnut out...If you're like me and were introduced to Hagar's Capitol material via "Red Hot," you eventually realized you were hearing some of this album (titled "Loud & Clear" in the U.K.) and some of Live 1980. This is probably the most successful of Hagar's late 70's albums (although Street Machine charted higher), I know for a fact it was the only one of those albums to chart in Canada. And for good reason really, it takes the cream of Sam's sometimes spotty (or more accurately just too varied for my personal tastes) Capitol repertoire and improves on what were sometimes pretty tame productions. Plus he had a top notch band backing him up, including all of Montrose with the obvious exception of namesake Ronnie, so naturally they dip into the Montrose catalogue too.
1) Red - Sammy's ode to his favourite colour, say what you will about the man, that's definitely unique. Anyway, like most of the songs here it's way sped up for good effect. A great way to kick things off.
2) Rock 'n' Roll Weekend - One of Sammy's best rock anthems, and he's had a few. A great version.
3) Make it Last/Reckless - Make it Last was the song that got Sammy into Montrose, and they do a superb rendition of it here, extending the "keep on rollin'" part to lurch unexpectedly into one of his most ferocious rockers (even on record.) Hey, he may be crazy but he ain't no fool.
4) Turn Up the Music - I always smile when I read old, old reviews of rock bands that refer to groups like Journey and Loverboy as "heavy metal." But indeed, really heavy metal must have been so underground that any group who was even slightly loud fit the bill? Here we have Sammy himself joyously proclaiming "we play heavy metal music" -- although it's even funnier on the much more polite studio version. I'm not taking the piss here, I love these songs but come on, heavy metal? Even the song called "Heavy Metal" isn't, you know....NEXT!!
5) I've Done Everything For You - I'm constantly meeting people who don't believe me when I tell them Sammy Hagar wrote this song. Yes, the first Hagar-penned song to hit the top Ten was performed by Rick Springfield. And producer Keith Olsen (who produced both Springfield's biggest albums and Hagar's first two Geffen albums) suggested that Rick record the song after hearing the live version of it. Just a good pop song, period.
6) Young Girl Blues - The album lags a bit here for me. When I first got this album I wasn't familiar with this Donovan cover, which Hagar did on his debut (about a) 9 on a 10 Scale, which I hadn't tracked down at that point. Sammy sings his heart out here, and the band enjoys an extended jam, not sure if it's all Hagar lead guitar or future Boston-ite Gary Pihl, but it's all good
7) Bad Motor Scooter - the highlight of the disc, in my opinion. One of the ultimate rockers, on an album full of them, from the first Montrose album. This version smokes the original in so many ways, not least of which is the guitar duel between Hagar and Pihl. When we were in school, my buddy John and I would be in a crowd of people and I'd yell over to him "take your best shot" and he'd hesitate a second and say "Ow!" Well, we laughed anyway. One of the few songs on a live album I can think of that fades out too.
If you've ever been curious as to what Hagar did in between Montrose and the Standing Hampton album, this is the place to start.