After toying with a more commercial sound on Stone Blue, Foghat decided to continue in the same vein on their next album. The resulting album, Boogie Motel, brought the group some commercial success but also unfortunately found them straying even further from their trademark sound. The album's success was primarily derived from "Third Time Lucky (First Time I Was a Fool)," a power ballad that became a hit single. It's lightweight stuff, especially by the standard of past Foghat hits, but it benefits from a strong melody and a tight arrangement that boasts some soaring slide-guitar leads. Sadly, it's the one really good track on the album. The big problem with Boogie Motel is its production downplays guitars in favor of an overall radio-friendly slickness. It's the wrong strategy, because it makes a once-ferocious band sound positively toothless: "Somebody's Been Sleepin' in My Bed" loses the dynamic power inherent in its arrangement due to the blunted sound of the guitars and drums, and the title track's slick arrangement (complete with horn arrangement) and radio-friendly mix make it sound pleasant instead of ferocious. Boogie Motel also suffers from uninspired material that downplays the band's classic boogie rock style for a more middle-of-the-road radio rock approach: The worst example is "Comin' Down With Love," which suffers from painfully sappy love lyrics and a dull soul-pop arrangement that strangely feels like an attempt to emulate the sound of Boz Scaggs. All in all, Boogie Motel is a dull, disappointing album that lacks the guitar firepower and rootsy charm that define the best Foghat albums. Even the most devoted Foghat fanatics may want to think twice before picking this disc up.
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AllMusic Review by Donald A. Guarisco