By Pat Prince
Foghat will always be known as a classic rock band even though its foundation is made up of the pure concrete of vintage blues. A Foghat disc like “Last Train Home,” which is a tribute to the blues, is not at all far-fetched.
The covers of Elmore James songs featured here are really special, “Shake Your Money Maker” and “It Hurts Me Too.” This is a great tip-of-the-hat to the king of slide guitar, who influenced everyone from Brian Jones to the southern rock of the Allman Brothers Band. The best of the bunch, however, is the band’s “Louisiana Blues” take. It’s hard to touch Muddy Waters but it’s nice when you can compliment him this well. And who could disagree that the unique appearance of an 86-year-old Eddie Kirkland is a delight to hear on the last two tracks of “In My Dreams” and “Good Good Day.”
It’s not all blues covers. Blues originals like “Born for the Road,” “Last Train Home” and “495 Boogie” have hints of the blues-influenced rock of the old Foghat.But this is a Foghat I prefer. I outgrew hits like “Fool for the City” but I feel like I can mature nicely with songs like this.
The original songs are just as good as the blues covers. “Last Train Home” may be the best song on the album. With a riff that would make Joe Perry envious, the song rides like a freight train tempting you to jump aboard. Real crossroads-type stuff made contemporary. And what a guitar opener to “Born for the Road.” The guitar introduces the song with slick-like persuasion and gets nasty real fast, and it has an instant stickiness, like the good ‘ol recognizable grit of a barroom floor.
The lead guitar of Bryan Bassett is outstanding on the disc, pure electricity in every note. Listen to the lead solos on the first two songs — “Born for the Road” or “Needle & Spoon” (over a minute of electric guitar bliss) — to become a convert of the new Foghat faithful instantly. The guitar solo in Otis Rush’s “So Many Roads, So Many Trains” has the same melancholic, soul-ripping touch as Jimmy Page on “Since I’ve Been Loving You.” Not quite that brilliant but damn good.
This blues themed album was a dream project of the late Foghat vocalist “Lonesome” Dave Peverett, and Charlie Huhn honors him well. Huhn has the vocal chops to be everything Foghat needs him to be, and he even sounds a bit like a bluesy David Lee Roth (believe it or not) on a song like “Needle & Spoon.”
Aerosmith did a similar blues dedication album in “Honkin’ on Bobo” back in 2004. But Aerosmith sounded less like a blues band. Foghat pull it off with more ease and distinction. You actually believe they could be a blues band, instead of the classic rock band passing off as blues.