It is a well-established fact that supergroups almost never succeed. In fact, the majority of […]
By Mike Novak
June 30, 2009
Chickenfoot - Chickenfoot album cover

It is a well-established fact that supergroups almost never succeed. In fact, the majority of them are doomed from the start. People see the big names and expect something great, sometimes even exponentially better than the members' original bands. They are just bound to be disappointed because the members usually lack the chemistry of the original bands that made them famous. Some exceptions to this trend are CREAM as well as DOWN, although aside from their amazing first album, they haven't impressed me nearly as much.  

With a name like CHICKENFOOT I was expecting the worst. Either a bunch of half-assed ideas pasted together for an album or else a bunch of material that was supposed to be humorous but in reality was more cringe-inducing. I have to admit that their logo is cool, as was their album case, which changes design when it reaches a certain temperature. For those that aren't familiar with the band, Sammy Hagar of MONTROSE and VAN HALEN fame is on vocals, with guitar virtuoso Joe Satriani on guitars, recently ousted (from VAN HALEN) Michael Anthony on bass, and Chad Smith of the RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS on drums.

The results of this collaboration are not as ground-breaking as the first VAN HALEN album, but this is certainly not the failure that many, including myself, predicted. The songs are not metal by any stretch of the imagination, but are hard Rock, with some funk influences. Sammy Hagar sounds powerful and uses his voice to great effect, although some of the choruses sound a bit forced. His lyrics leave much to be desired as well. At times, Michael Anthony actually plays some decent bass parts, but other times he gets stuck playing the same note over and over, or else just playing the same notes as the guitar, a problem that plagued his work for much of his time in VAN HALEN. I have always felt that Chad Smith has been overlooked and overshadowed by Flea and John Frusciante and here he really gets a chance to shine on drums. There are no insane Nick Barker-like drum patterns, but his rhythms and fills are always solid and I bet he would kill performing this material live.

Then we have Joe Satriani, who is one of the highest selling musicians in the guitar virtuoso genre, who taught the likes of Kirk Hammett, Steve Vai, John Petrucci and Alex Skolnick, who was invited to join DEEP PURPLE and declined. Let's just say that it is great to hear him playing in a band again, because I feel he is underutilized at times in his solo work, usually preferring to show off effects and tricks that are mainly aimed towards people who spend a lot of time playing the guitar. Here he writes hard Rock and/or funk riffs that are relatively straightforward, but the real treat comes during the guitar solos. Thankfully he does not restrain himself like some guitarists do when writing songs that are meant to have mass appeal. He unleashes solo after jaw-dropping solo and yet you hardly have what is sometimes referred to as wanking here. Mr. Satriani puts to shame anything that Eddie Van Halen has written in at least 20 years. Satch's guitar work is what really makes the album.

One of the reasons for my initial skepticism towards the band was because I heard a couple of songs before the album was released. Soap On A Rope and Down The Drain are decent songs, but usually the songs that are released early are the best ones, and assuming these were the best that this band had to offer did not set expectations too high. However, the best songs are album tracks that haven't been released as singles (yet). Avenida Revolucion kicks off the album with a great hard Rock riff and includes some fine vocal work from Hagar and some top-notch soloing from Satriani. Sexy Little Thing and Runnin' Out are both strong rockers as well, and the epic Future In The Past works surprisingly well. Despite its predictable and cliche lyric, Oh Yeah! is a fun stadium-ready anthem and is doing extraordinarily well in the United States, especially when one considers how the radio stations normally play songs from the awful mainstream Rock scene.

CHICKENFOOT are not revolutionizing Rock by any means. Sometimes the choruses don't quite work, the lyrics almost universally suck and at times the chemistry isn't quite what it should be. Also, with the exception of the closing track, the end of this album is a bit tedious and can be easily skipped. However, this is still a good album to rock out to, especially while driving. There is definitely some potential with this lineup and it will be exciting to see the band evolve as they tour together and their chemistry builds. I look forward to the next album, but will surely enjoy this one for the time being.

7 / 10


"Chickenfoot" Track-listing:

Avenida Revolution
Soap On A Rope
Sexy Little Thing
Oh Yeah
Runnin' Out
Get It Up
Down The Drain
My Kinda Girl
Learning To Fall
Turnin' Left
Future In The Past

Chickenfoot Lineup:

Sammy Hagar - Vocals
Joe Satriani - Guitar
Michael Anthony - Bass
Chad Smith - Drums

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