Sammy Hagar and Friends (review)

Sammy Hagar – Sammy Hagar & Friends (Frontiers) review

The Red Rocker throws a party – and invites all his buddies


In Sammy Hagar’s post-Van Halen career, he’s been able to follow his muse wherever it leads him.  Sometimes it’s with his solo band the Wabos, sometimes it’s with his supergroup Chickenfoot, and oftentimes it’s with whomever happens to stop by his Cabo Wabo restaurant in San Lucas, Mexico.  In that time, he’s had a chance to make some new friends, and get re-acquainted with old ones.  Sammy Hagar & Friends connects all of this together in his first-ever collaboration album.

This record is less about fitting into one particular genre, and more about jamming with some good buddies.  So, you get the kicking-ass anthem “Knockdown Dragout” with Kid Rock, alongside the classic car ode “Bad on Fords and Chevrolets” with Ronnie Dunn (of the hit country duo Brooks & Dunn).  The accordion-led “Father Sun” starts out acoustically, then rocks on the chorus, while “Winding Down” with blues great Taj Mahal touches on current events in a worlds-going-to-hell kinda way.

While several songs are originals, Hagar also tackles a few covers – with mixed results.  The surprising Nine Inch Nails’ “Personal Jesus” could’ve benefitted from a little restraint, while Bob Seger’s “Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Man” is a capable rendition.  The real winner here is his take of “Margaritaville” with Toby Keith – this could’ve been a complete disaster.  Instead, Hagar gives the shop-worn classic a laid back, Cajun flavor, with Keith really turning in a devil-may-care delivery that really works here.  Of course, they had to change the line to “Waboritaville” at the end, which is a little cheesy, but expected.

They definitely saved the best for last – “Going Down – Live in the Studio Take 1” is a blistering rendition of the Jeff Beck classic featuring 3/4’s of Chickenfoot plus Journey axeman Neal Schon.  This is the kind of magic that comes from a bunch of seasoned dudes just letting it rip.  Schon is especially impressive – letting loose in ways he never gets to do in Journey.

Blues, country, Cajun, and blistering hard rock – Sammy Hagar sure sounds like he’s having a good time with this one.  –Tony Peters