When the relatively-unknown Chickenfoot‘s lead single, “Oh Yeah”, hit terrestrial airwaves back in ’09, it was catchy and power-driven. With Sammy Hagar noticeably present, the initial vibe felt genuinely rock ‘n’ roll, though not without a little shtick. No shock, no awe, no “Coming soon to an arena near you!” commentary–strictly heavy music for whoever happened to be tuned in that afternoon. Maybe the former Van Halen frontman was attempting a solo comeback to counter-balance whatever Roth and Rose were up to, who knew?
The supergroup dubbed Chickenfoot is comprised of Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith, guitar aficionado Joe “Satch” Satriani, and prior Van Halen members Sammy Hagar and Michael Anthony. As previously noted on a review of their eponymous debut, the band’s moniker was a joke-turned-reality; Chickenfoot is a labor of “Fuck ’em, we’re playing anyway” moments, rolled into a rock band only fans of each individual members’ repertoire will care to acknowledge nine times out of 10. This act does get points for naming their second album III, however.
Credit to Satriani for once again downplaying himself to avoid overwhelming his friendly co-conspirators, but in reality, Chickenfoot III sounds identical to its predecessor in nearly every capacity, save for “Three And A Half Letters”–a song that needed to be made by someone, eventually. Who would have guessed the creators would be Hagar and his band of miscreants?
Anyone who enjoyed the likes of “Soap On A Rope” and “Sexy Little Thing” will no doubt marvel at “Up Next” (Chickenfoot’s accidental sequel to the Dixie Chicks’ “Sin Wagon”), “Come Closer”, Sons Of Anarchy-esque “Something Going Wrong”, the funk-infused “I Can’t Drive 55” precursor “Big Foot”, or “Oh Yeah” companion “Alright, Alright”, wherein Hagar does his prized Roth/Daltrey impressions–though in all fairness, Satriani gets a few seconds to reign supreme more often than before. Chickenfoot’s biggest calling card is not the signature works of each member, but a bunch of old dogs rehashing glory days like rural rockers who found their equipment in a college buddy’s garage a few years too late.
The kinds of albums this band releases are not inherently bad pieces, nor are they renowned classics. Chickenfoot is a good time to be shared with everyone else, and you can certifiably sense how much joy Satriani is getting out of being in a real band, away from the white-hot spotlight for a change. Even Smith appears to simply exist in a blissful nonchalance, whereas Anthony has an iota of Claypool at the outset of “Dubai Blues”. Nobody can say with any earnest certainty where Chickenfoot will end up, and III is probably a slight improvement over the past effort in places where it counts–I just don’t see enough people caring beyond passive curiosity in the long-term.
Maybe I’m a skeptic and these tunes aren’t meant for me. You be the judge, and smile at Hagar once again neglecting a Cabo Wabo reference as I go digging out my Them Crooked Vultures record. Remember them? Exactly. Chickenfoot was, in my humble opinion, a three-star effort, and III is its appropriate equal.
Essential Tracks: “Dubai Blues”, “Big Foot”, “Something Going Wrong”