Chickenfoot - Chickenfoot
Hard Rock
11 songs (57:39)
Release year: 2009
Chickenfoot, Edel
Reviewed by Goat

As tempting as it was to tag this as 'Cock Rock', it's hard to reduce Joe Satriani's talents to a comparison like that, joking or no. The man is a modern rock legend, after all, tutor to Steve Vai, Larry LaLonde, Kirk Hammett, Alex Skolnick, and Charlie Hunter amongst others, has worked with Mick Jagger and Deep Purple and through the creation of the G3 tour the likes of Robert Fripp and John Petrucci - his place is amongst the stars, and even if you've not spent much time listening to his solo albums, his skill must be acknowledged. I've always liked him if never investigated too much, his classic Surfing With The Alien track a vital signpost on my musical journey to heaviness, and I instinctively wished him all the best in his recent lawsuit against Coldplay, because, well, it's Coldplay and any attempt to remove them from the public sphere can only be for the good. Learning of his involvement in the Chickenfoot supergroup led me to checking it out, and whilst I'll admit ignorance over most of Van Halen's discography in general, I do like Red Hot Chili Peppers, and two out of four ain't bad.

The line-up in full is Sammy Hagar singing, Michael Anthony on bass, Chad Smith on the drumstool and of course Satriani on guitar, and musically this seems to be pretty typical Hard Rock, with some interesting straying from the path. It's all fairly catchy, toe-tapping stuff, heavier than what I generally expect from the radio, and enjoyable chiefly thanks to Satriani, whose playing often lifts the songs out of dullness. The vast majority of songs are the usual sort of thing - that the first single is named Oh Yeah should tell you all you need to know - but they're expertly done and more than entertaining if, like me, you don't listen to a great deal of modern Rock music, especially not this American 'Hard' variation. There's an enjoyably laid-back feeling to the music here which makes for a chilled-out listen, the musicians working well together and making an album that flows well and feels nice and solid, even if the length may be ten minutes longer than it needs to be.

I suppose you could best sum this up as a pretty even mixture of Led Zeppelin and AC/DC, the melody and grandiosity of the former mixing with the Blue(s)-collar stomp of the latter - the perfect soundtrack for the discerning stripper! If there's a weak element at all, it's the lyrics, which are wholly uninteresting for the greater part of the album, but Hagar sings every line with relish and is clearly having fun. All the performances are great, Smith and Anthony solid in backing the lead players, yet Satriani far and away is the star, and his playing is what really elevates the material here, which could well be poor in other hands. Take opening track, Hacienda Revolucion, a leftfield groovy pounder which meanders a little over its nearly-six-minute running time, but is never less than fun due to the varied and interesting instrumental work. It's hardly prog rock, but it is an interesting choice of openers, especially since the following Soap On A Rope is about as typical as it's possible to get, stop-start riffs and vocal screams galore, with a great bit of soloing from Satriani.

Interesting as it is that songs here are generally a minute or so longer than you'd expect (too much jamming in the studio?) there's nothing really objectionable. The band are experts, and even with a 'fun' album like this they know exactly what they're doing. Sexy Little Thing is about as interesting as its name suggests, whilst the aforementioned Oh Yeah funks things up a little. Get It Up takes things to almost tribal regions, and My Kinda Girl even has a bit of organ on it. Few will want to listen to ubiquitous power ballad Learning To Fall more than once (if that) but the band make up for it with the last few tracks, Turnin' Left going funky again and Future In The Past ending in an almost Living Colour style. Generally, the funky moments are best, and that's what I'd like to see explored further on future albums, yet really with Satriani allowed to do his thing the band can't go far wrong. A solid album that does nothing new, but does it well.

Killing Songs :
Hacienda Revolucion, Oh Yeah, Get It Up, My Kinda Girl, Turnin' Left, Future In The Past
Goat quoted 74 / 100
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