The road has always been a tough slog, but there was a time when bands that delivered the goods in concert could turn electrifying live shows into gold records.
That used to be the surest path to chart success for any rock band, and nobody followed it with more zeal in the ’70s than Foghat, a splinter-cell of the ’60s blues group Savoy Brown that went on to greater glory after leaving its parent organism.
The boogie-rock phenoms released one of the most revered live albums in rock history, Foghat Live, in 1977. It sold two million copies and, of the six albums Foghat released in the ’70s, Foghat Live was the band?s biggest seller.
Personnel turnover, including the retirement of original guitarist/vocalist ‘Lonesome’ Dave Peverett, threatened to sink Foghat. Peverett, who was diagnosed with cancer in 1998, had resumed touring in 1999 and died Feb. 7, 2000.
But the band persevered.
Now, 30 years later, with drummer Roger Earl still driving the band’s high-octane, blues-fueled engine with as much fervor as ever, a newer version of Foghat offers up Foghat Live II, which showcases the talents of longtime bassist Craig MacGregor, powerhouse vocalist Charlie Huhn and slide-guitar master Bryan Bassett (who spent the ’70s with R&B/funk legends Wild Cherry).
Running through Foghat classics like “Night Shift,” “I Just Want to Make Love to You” “Stone Blue” and, of course, “Slow Ride” with vim and vigor, Foghat proves there is still life in the old girl. The band talked with Goldmine about the new record recently.
Goldmine:Let’s talk about Foghat Live II. Even with newer members, Foghat still sounds very much like the band that started it all in 1971, with those powerful rhythmic grooves and strong riffs that really grab you somewhere south of the belt. What is it about the band’s dynamics that creates such a gripping live sound?
Charlie Huhn: The Foghat sound is basically good old rock ‘n’ roll just heavied up a bit with a dose of blues riffs which complement the music intensely!
A very strong recipe of gripping, blues-influenced vocal melodies, and some heavy minor to major chording which was so popular with the British Blues Invasion … even thinking about changing that dynamic would be off the wall.
So we put on the ‘Fogthinkinghat’ when we go to work playing the old songs and let this mood influence our new ideas, never losing sight of the path laid out in the bands history. We all love this stuff and we?re not gonna change. So there!
Bryan Bassett: I think one of the most important and overlooked aspects of the ‘Foghat’ sound is Roger’s unique ability to play a powerful back beat as well as incorporating a ‘blues shuffle’ feel into the rhythmic texture of a lot of Foghat’s material.
I was an engineer at a Blues label for many years (King Snake Studio — Sanford Florida), and I had my session drummers organized by ‘great shuffle drummer’ or ‘great backbeat drummer.’ It is rare to have a drummer do both well.
Roger’s style of playing provides the fundamental feel that I think is a huge part of the ‘Foghat’ signature sound.
For my part, before I was a member of the band, I was a student of the band and very definitely a product of the British Blues Rock invasion. Savoy Brown, Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac, all the John Mayall guitarists, of course Eric Clapton in the Beano period … these are the guitar tones I tried to emulate when learning to play and am chasing after still on a nightly basis.
I also had the opportunity to play with Rod Price for the better part of a year and absorb some of his wonderful slide technique, which keeps me on track when recreating his parts for the stage.