With Foghat having recorded arguably two of their best albums in a row, 1975’s ‘Fool For The City’ and 1976’s ‘Night Shift’, the band was ready to jump into the live albums wagon of the mid-to-late 70’s.
Written by: Dave T
SERIAL: BRK 6971
CD REISSUE: Discogs Reissue List
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: England, USA
LINEUP: Lonesome Dave Peverett – vocals, guitar * Rod Price – guitar, vocals * Craig MacGregor – bass, vocals * Roger Earl – drums
TRACK LISTING: 01 Fool For The City * 02 Home In My Hand * 03 I Just Want To Make Love To You * 04 Road Fever * 05 Honey Hush * 06 Slow Ride
With Foghat having recorded arguably two of their best albums in a row, 1975’s ‘Fool For The City’ and 1976’s ‘Night Shift’, the band was ready to jump into the live albums wagon of the mid-to-late 70’s equipped with a strong set comprised of original songs plus some cherry picked covers that had already found a place in their studio albums.
Foghat were an English band, only MacGregor – who had replaced bassist/producer Nick Jameson in 1976 – was born in America. However, they sounded as American as maybe no other band of the 70’s, capturing the true spirit of the Blues. Interestingly enough, the name ‘Foghat’ was taken from a word that Peverett and his brother John had invented during a Scrabble game.
Recorded during the Night Shift tour in May 1977, more than likely the exact recording took place at the Dome Arena, a 5,600-seat indoor arena located in Henrietta, a suburb of Rochester, upstate NY, on May 10 of 1977.
Foghat studio formula mixed classic rock, blues and boogie. However, in the live environment, they come off sounding like a formidable hard rock unity. Dave Peverett, nicknamed ‘Lonesome’ after his long hours spent with his guitar and records, owns a clear, muscular live voice – vaguely reminiscent of Roger Daltrey – which acquires a soulful quality in the high register a la Steve Marriott.
Rod ‘The Bottle’ Price is probably one of the most overlooked slide players ever, one that stands proud among the likes of Duane Allman, Billy Gibbons, Mick Taylor and the great Muddy Waters. The rhythm section is another driving force, rock solid as a locomotive. The audience level is perfect, clearly audible yet not disturbingly interfering with the performance or contrived a la Kiss‘ ‘Alive! II’ or Legs Diamond‘s ‘Captured Live’.
There are only six songs in a little more than 38 minutes. Neither useless extended guitar/drum solos nor tiring stage banters here. Just 100% effervescent rock ‘n’ roll. The band was firing on all cylinders for the opener ‘Fool For The City’, perhaps the perfect example of a boogie-hard-rock song if you ask me. When Lonesome sings ‘I ain’t no country boy, I’m just a homesick man.. air pollution here I come’ he really means it.
One of the most touching road songs ever, ‘Home In My Hand’ is the vehicle for a singing rhythm guitar a la Kiss‘ ‘King Of The Night Time World’ and a moving slide section; while the touring-band ode, slide-soaked ‘Road Fever’ is their tribute to the Delta blues and the South as well, as New Orleans, Atlanta and Birmingham all get a mention in the song’s lyrics.
The ultimate versions of ‘Honey Hush’ and ‘I Just Want To Make Love To You’ are here. The former is a Big Joe Turner cover and, excuse my French, it wipes the floor with two of my favorite bands live versions, Aerosmith‘s and Riot‘s – yes, I know, they are both titled ‘Train Kept A Rollin’ and written by Tiny Bradshaw, but the arrangement is the same.
The latter, without all the studio echo and reverb, shines like a diamond in the rough. Give me this version of the Willie Dixon classic penned for Muddy Waters over all others’, including the Rolling Stones, Van Morrison and Etta James.
‘Slow Ride’ (pronounced ‘making love’), the song whose single-edited version classic-rock radios mandatorily play at least once every couple of hours (lol), slays its studio counterpart. Funky basslines, frenzied slide sections, frantic pace, all make for a climactic show ending.
In my opinion, live albums should be reviewed from the gut reaction they produce, with the passion and the raw energy as key indicators. ‘Foghat Live’ has them in spades. There were endless discussions around the fact that the album should have included more songs, namely ‘Driving Wheel’ and ‘Night Shift’ as examples, or that it should have been released as a double album. However, it does not affect its quality at all.
The album peaked at #11 on the Billboard Album Chart and reached double platinum status by selling more than two million copies around the time of its release, making it Foghat’s best seller ever. Usually overlooked amidst other products of the great live albums era such as ‘Alive!’, ‘Strangers In The Night’, ‘At Budokan’ or ‘Live And Dangerous’, this monument to the live performance is a magical moment captured on record; at least for a rabid minority that still tries to spread the word after more than 40 years of its release. Hopefully, more people will join the converted.
Foghat on Video
Fool For The City
Entire Album (Select Tracks)