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Chickenfoot - 'III' http://ns2.rocktopiarecords.com/media/reviews/photos/thumbnail/200x200s/88/69/e5/1529_chickenfoot3iii_1314810359.jpeg Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     August 31, 2011    
 
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A work of art from start to finish.

I'm sure by now everybody knows that the supergroup of Sammy Hagar, Chad Smith, Joe Satriani and Michael Anthony weren't messing about when they formed their band Chickenfoot. The name raised eyebrows, and their self titled album and subsequent live shows dropped jaws. The band jammed their way through a powerhouse rock album which charted all over the place and went gold in the US and Canada.

With tight schedules for all four members, making a follow up had to be done as and when, but what the band have managed to do is take all that was good about the first album, smooth it out, whittle it down and come out with a follow up that is sleeker, stronger and just plain better than the excellent debut. With a knack for crazy names, the band have called their second album 'III' because, as Sammy explains, "it's so good, the songs are so tight, it's like we jumped right past having to make a second record". Bold worlds, but once I started listening to it, they are words the album backs up in spades.

Ten songs clocking in at forty two minutes means that the album falls into my preferred running time - not too short, no too long, and it also makes it clear that none of the songs have too much in the way of instrumental passages or jams. All the energy from the first one is present but the band have honed their songwriting to a much more commercial, radio friendly and song orientated style, without losing their rock and roll exuberance. The songs also have more hooks and make much more use of Hagar and Michael Anthony's excellent natural vocal harmonies.

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'Up Next' has just that in it's chorus and is a fantastic start to the record, with a superb riff and bouncing beat from Chad Smith. Sammy's vocals belie his age, he sounds terrific. Satriani impresses me more and more every time I hear him - he doesn't overplay, he just plays superbly. 'Alright Alright' keeps the energy up - the almost live feel the first album had is just as evident here and the track made me picture the band all playing with big grins on their faces.

'Different Devil' and 'Come Closer' show the more subtle side to the band - the latter being written as just a set of lyrics by Sammy, who then presented them to Satriani to construct musically. 'Different Devil' has touches from both Sammy's stints in Van Halen and his solo career and the backing vocals from Michael Anthony are just perfection. 'Last Temptation' is another killer rocker with a brilliant singalong chorus. 'Lighten Up' and new single, the grooving 'Big Foot', follow in similar style - great riffs, great vocals, just sheer quality.

My personal favourite is the awesome 'Three And A Half Letters', featuring Sammy reading letters from people who have been dealt a shit hand in life and are desperate for help - from a man who has been laid off and is struggling to support his young family, to a solider returning from Afghanistan who can't find employment, to a fifty one year old man who has to hand write his letter because he has no access to a computer and has lost his job and his wife. On paper it sounds miserable, but to hear it - wow. Set to a bass driven beat similar to 'Avenida Revolucion', the letters build to a crescendo where Hagar screams his way through a relentless, pounding chorus. Sammy's vocals are amazing on this track and it's a powerful, hard rocking statement about the problems so many people face.

'Dubai Blues' features some fine bass work from Anthony and boasts another great hook in the chorus, before the album rounds out with the delta-blues infused 'Somethings Going Wrong', which is a close relation to 'Bitten By The Wolf'. Produced by Mike Fraser, the album is a work of art from start to finish, no weak link at all. The band have gelled more, written better songs and Sammy sings better than the first record, which was hardly weak. This is going to take some shifting as my album of the year.

James Gaden

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