Thursday, February 9, 2012

Chickenfoot - III (Deluxe Edition)

Chickenfoot
III (Deluxe Edition)
earMUSIC/Edel

If there’s a curse that plagues nearly all supergroup’s throughout history, it’s always been their second album. For some, all of their creativity seems to have been used up on the first album, leaving little left for a second effort. For some, it’s sometimes been a pulling in different directions that has brought them down a second time around. For others, it’s merely a case of the group falling apart in their attempts to have another go at making an album. But in the case of Chickenfoot (Who comprise of ex-Montrose/Van Halen vocalist/rhythm guitarist Sammy Hagar, guitarist virtuoso/keyboardist Joe Satriani, ex-Van Halen bassist/backing vocalist Michael Anthony and Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith), it would appear that they’ve defied all the odds, with their highly anticipated sophomore effort ‘III’ exceeding the bar set by their self-titled debut from 2009.
It’s evident from the hard rocking opening track ‘Last Temptation’ that the band’s time spent on the road touring in the last couple of years (As documented on 2010’s live D.V.D. ‘Get Your Buzz On Live’) has really brought the four piece act closer together in the musical sense. Satriani’s guitar playing comes across as more relaxed and in sync with the band musically, while Hagar’s vocals and melodies don’t seem as off the cuff and improvised as they did in the past.
‘Alright Alright’ is an easy going rocker that features some great solo work from Satriani and Anthony’s trademark back-up vocals through the song’s infectious choruses, while the heartfelt ballad/rocker ‘Different Devil’ (The second single from the album, and which again features Anthony’s distinctive back-up vocals) is a classic Hagar tune that could have easily slotted on any of his solo efforts or any of the Hagar era Van Halen albums.
Satriani really shines on the thumping ‘Up Next’ with a killer solo that’s delivered more along the lines of his solo work, while the album’s lead single ‘Big Foot’ sees Satriani abashedly borrow from Led Zeppelin’s riff book to create one of the funkiest rock tunes ‘III’ has to offer listeners.
Unlike the band’s debut, ‘III’ also offers up a couple of more subdued and serious efforts, as evident in the soul drenched ‘Come Closer’ and the stunning closer blues based ‘Something Going Wrong’. While the band shines throughout both tracks, and Anthony’s harmonies alongside Hagar’s are noteworthy, it’s Hagar that really stands out as the star here. Hagar can inject a party atmosphere into anything (One only needs to look at his more recent solo efforts for proof of that), but when he turns towards something a little more serious and heartfelt, he really can produce something long lasting and meaningful.
Rounding out the album is the driving rocker ‘Lighten Up’ (Which brings to mind Deep Purple in places with its ever present keyboards) and the blues based ‘Dubai Blues’ (Which not surprisingly written around The Yardbirds’ classic ‘I Ain’t Got You’).
The only song that doesn’t work quite like it should is ‘Three And A Half Letters’. The message might be a sound one (Hagar reading letters sent to him from fans who are out of work and down on their luck), but the chorus sounds weak and underdeveloped. It’s a shame, because there is the making of a good song there.
As an added bonus, ‘III’ also comes with a bonus D.V.D., which features the thirteen minute documentary ‘The Making Of Chickenfoot III’ (Which is both funny and informative), a seven and a half minute ‘Behind The Scenes’ documentary (Some footage of the band goofing around in the studio, and Hagar’s story behind ‘Different Devil’), a two minute chat on the album’s 3D packaging (‘The Packaging’) and a two minute ‘Greeting’ from the band.
Also included are the promotional video clips for ‘Big Foot’ and ‘Sexy Little Thing’, and a live version of ‘Turnin’ Left’ from their ‘Get Your Buzz On Live’ D.V.D.
Looking past ‘Three And A Half Letters’, ‘III’ exceeds all expectations of the band’s debut, and proves beyond all doubt that Chickenfoot is more than just a supergroup, but a real band. And on the strength of this album, I can’t see Chickenfoot winding down anytime soon. The bottom line is that ‘III’ is a great rock album, and will definitely please those who enjoyed Chickenfoot’s past effort.

For more information on Chickenfoot, check out - http://www.chickenfoot.us/

© Justin Donnelly