Sammy Hagar

Cosmic Universal Fashion

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Sammy Hagar took it easy on 2006's Livin' It Up! -- maybe a bit too easy, styling himself after Jimmy Buffett's beach bongo, keeping things at a slow-rolling boil. It was a strangely appealing switch-up but it's not a big surprise that the Red Rocker returns to roaring guitars on its 2008 follow-up, Cosmic Universal Fashion. What is a bit of a surprise is just how straight-up stoopid so much of Cosmic Universal Fashion is, how Sammy desperately chases after his faded adolescence through the rose-tinted "Loud" and a staggeringly misguided cover of the Beastie Boys' "Fight for Your Right to Party," while bitching about fuddy-duddy fathers on "Switch on the Light." These fumbling stabs at rebellion all reveal his 61 years in a way that not even the electronic bluster of the opening title track does; with "Cosmic Universal Fashion," Sammy is at least trying to live in the moment instead of leaning on the past, the way he does with that teenage trilogy. Not that Sammy is any less clownish when he's partying like it's 2008: the slick "I'm on a Roll" threatens to boogie right off the tracks -- although it's a smidge better than the club-footed funk of "24365" -- but at least it feels more age-appropriate. This is all relative, of course, as this is the guy who's still churning out grunge songs like "Peephole" when he wants to seem modern, which helps make the lazy Little Feat-flavored blues "When the Sun Don't Shine" easily the standout here...but that happens to be the song closest to Livin' It Up!, and the whole idea of Cosmic Universal Fashion is to get Hagar back to his basics. But "When the Sun Don't Shine" is so effortlessly charming, it suggests that this is the road Sammy should travel these days.

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