The Definitive Rock Collection

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When one listens to the absolutely savage tracks that appeared on Foghat's classic debut album -- produced at Rockfield Studios by Dave Edmunds -- one can hear the sound of the entire history of rock music up until that point in time. True, they are all covers -- Willie Dixon's "I Just Want to Make Love to You," Chuck Berry's "Maybellene," and Charles Underwood's "Ubangi Stomp" (an outtake from the sessions) -- but that said, they were reinterpreted as accurately as the early '70s would allow. And truth be told, if that record had appeared by a band with skinny ties in the late '70s, they would have been fantastic touring partners for the Cramps and the Stray Cats both! Of course, while Foghat scored with the first of these tracks, it was the third record, Energized, that made them rock stars. This double-disc collection from Rhino goes a bit too far in digging deep into the Foghat catalog. While all the major singles are here, and prime album tracks from 1972 through the end of the big hit period on Boogie Motel in 1979, the final five cuts could have been left off in their entirety; they are so embarrassing (even though "Stranger in My Home Town" off Tight Shoes charted near the bottom of the Hot 100 in 1981). Alas. Since neither Lonesome Dave Peverett nor Rod Price was around to select these tunes, one has to wonder if they would have approved this second disc's selection. The bet is they would have gone into those first two album's deeper. Cuts like "Highway Killing Me," "Trouble, Trouble," "Leavin' Again (Again)," and "Sara Lee," define the band's early power and pop finesse. That's just the debut. Rock & Roll produced more than the two smoking tracks that are placed here. What about "Long Way to Go" and "Helpin' Hand"? Then, of course, there is the music that is here. For those early Foghat fans who felt that Energized was the first sellout, the selections included here from that fine record, -- the singles "Wild Cherry," "That'll Be the Day," (yes, the Buddy Holly song), and "Step Outside," all correct that view. Same with the cuts from Fool for the City, Night Shift and Stone Blue. There are single versions here, edited down from the album cuts -- FM rock radio was already poisoned then, but it was still way better than anything that passes for such in the 21st century -- some live cuts, and a few outtakes. With the exception of those final five tracks, this is as fine a portrait of a band who knew how to rock and hit the charts using blues and early rock & roll chops while unabashedly combining them with then-modern production techniques. Hardcore fans will most likely want this as it sounds great -- hey Rhino, remaster the band's first two records, will ya? -- and rocks as hard or harder than anything out there today.

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