Chickenfoot III

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Maybe the only surprising thing about Chickenfoot's critically dismissed 2009 debut was that anyone should have been surprised at its eventual commercial success. After all, there was just no way that America's average Joe classic rock consumer was going to resist spending all of that disposable beer money on a super-sized union between Sammy Hagar, Joe Satriani, Michael Anthony, and Chad Smith, no matter how meager its artistic rewards. Temptation embraced, the broth thickens with a second Chickenfoot LP -- cheekily named Chickenfoot III -- that offers much the same in terms of musical and intellectual stimuli (don't laugh) with its rather shameless though surely to-be-expected, exploitation of the vintage Van Hagar aesthetic. Love it or loathe it, said blueprint yields plenty of mainstream rock comfort food in the shape of muscular opener "Last Temptation," the subsequent, irresistible singalong "Alright Alright," and even the bluesier, acoustic-infused "Something Gone Wrong," among other tracks. And while some listeners may understandably take exception with Satriani's occasional overindulgence in EVH's legendary "brown sound" on cuts like "Lighten Up" and "Big Foot," the guitar hero's simultaneous willingness to mask his silver alien fret pyrotechnics for the betterment of simple, anthemic single "Different Devil," or the subdued yacht rocker "Come Closer" is perhaps the biggest endorsement of Chickenfoot's true status as a band, rather than yet another jumble of superstars jamming for their 401ks. Having said that, the ship has unfortunately and unquestionably sailed on Sammy Hagar's ability to convey a serious lyric with believable conviction (way too many waboritas and mas tequilas, Sammy, sorry bro), and so it's hard to reconcile his effort to recite earnest letters written by the down-and-unemployed with shrieks of "I need a job"! on the confusing "Three-Letter Word." Likewise, the sardonic "Dubai Blues" just isn't very funny when spewed through the mouth of a dyed-in-the-wool capitalist millionaire, but maybe we're thinking too hard here… After all, it's already been established that Chickenfoot III is an unapologetic exercise in classic rock nostalgia, take it or leave it, and at least it's honestly so -- unlike the latest Jane's Addiction or Pulp reunions…both of them such anti-corporate, anti-establishment indie rockers, clearly. Not! So judge not, indie rockers and other self-satisfied musical tribes: any way you slice it, the aging rock audience is hungry and, flawed as they may be, Chickenfoot are just the guys to feed them.

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