Sound: Foghat: Live captures the British-based blues-rockers at the height of '70's arena rock. A unique time in rock touring history, the '70's were a time when numerous bands, who might not have sold millions upon millions of records (!), criss-crossed the US like so many coked-out vacuum cleaner salesmen stuck in a relentless record-tour-record-tour cycle.
In stark contrast to today, record companies then nurtured artists as they steadily built up sales while they honed their live performing rather than - today - where if an artist/band doesn't hit a home run right out of the chute, they're tossed aside for the next media-made craze.
Taking advantage of the then reasonable costs of touring, bands like Foghat went from one boomy basketball arena to the other, the grinding tour schedule paying dividends as the bands became increasingly tighter and as they honed their live musical presentation to a fine degree and established their reputation with the concert-going public.
Foghat: Live captures the band at its commercial, creative, and live performing peak. Foghat's studio albums, while certainly successful by most standards (they had three gold albums to their credit prior to Live), they suffered from a compressed and sterile feel. The live charisma of leadman Dave Peverett never showing through and lead/slide guitarist Rod Price never duplicating the manic approach he displayed in concert. The constant touring had solidified the band and they excelled at their high-energy, blues-based boogie.
01.Fool for the City: an uptempo anti-anthem for songs pining for the simplicity of the country, Foghat celebrates the bustling, liveliness of city life.
02.Home in My Hand: a smoldering chordal-riff rocker, it features a Bad Company-type feel with a smooth vocal delivery by Peverett.
03.I Just Want to Make Love to You: Foghat covers the Willie Dixon classic with more lead guitar in the introduction that most bands would put on entire record; the dueling guitars of Peverett and Price bellowing out of the speakers.
04.Road Fever: the real boogie number on the album featuring a great, walking bassline by Craig MacGregor; mid-tempo, feel good '70's rock at it's finest.
05.Honey Hush: a cover of the Big Joe Turner blue classic, Foghat performs this at a breakneck tempo, the rhythm section locked in tight and the dueling guitars screaming in unison. Other covers of this by Paul McCartney and Elvis Costello are milquetoast in comparison. Rock students will note the comparison in the chordal lick resembling that of Train Kept a' Rollin'.
06.Slow Ride: the crown jewel of the record and possibly one of the greatest live performances of the '70's, it surpasses the studio version by galaxies. As if designed for live performance, Roger Earl's drum intro booms rather than taps and the chordal intro roars. While mostly faithful to the studio arrangement, the live version's ending up-tempo jam builds up in speed and intensity to a seemingly unsustainable pace as Price's slide guitar shrieks and the rhythm section accelerates like an out of control locomotive. The final drum roll and Peverett's scream justify the rapturous roar of approval from the audience. // 9
Lyrics: Not really known for their lyrical content, Foghat stays comfortable by not straying beyond what's expected of blues-based rock. Love and innuendo predominate on all tracks, the exceptions being Fool for the City and Road Fever which address topics inherent of their respective titles. Peverett delivers an excellent blues wail, his energy and enthusiasm are evident in his delivery. Back-up harmonies, used sparingly but effectively, are delivered spot-on. // 9
Overall Impression: Following Frampton's massively Comes Alive album, record companies ensured many of their artists rushed out a live album to hopefully catch the public's infatuation with live albums created by Frampton's wake. Fortunately for Foghat, this came at a time when they were peaking as a live unit; their confidence as performing musicians is evident as each number unfolds with the right amount of intensity, build-up, and release. For brief moments in Honey Hush and Slow Ride the band is executing so flawlessly and so precisely, they achieve a momentum that many of today's bands wish was an option on their Pro Tools console.
The recording captures the magic of '70's rock that, while not necessarily perfect in execution or crystal clear sonically, has an aura of the music and the performance being larger than life: the musicians locked in tight, high energy/up-tempo, volume in abundance in a large setting with an enthusiastic audience that, in the pre-internet days where media saturation was in the form of monthly magazines, treats each interaction with the band as a rarity to be savored and enjoyed.
RIP Dave Peverett 1943-2000.
RIP Rod Price 1947-2005. // 9