HardReviews 2
by Martin Popoff

Foghat - Live II

Foghat Live is considered one of the great live albums of all time, and, as with a few artists from that era (Kiss, BOC, Frampton), it was a disproportionately huge unit-shifter for the band. It was amusing then to see a remake of that record's cover art then (sans the diecut), bolstered by a four-panel swing digipak, and it was equally cool to see this record's fortunate track listing. First off, Foghat now is of course missing its leader, the dearly departed Dave Peverett, with guitarist Rod Price also dying a few years back. But Roger Earl and Craig MacGregor are on board, the lineup rounded off by long-standing blues great Bryan Bassett and on vocals, Charlie Huhn, of Ted Nugent and Victory fame. A bit wobbly on validity there (and don't forget, the new guys have been there a long time), but once you see the band live, all doubts are dashed. Live II makes that clear, although the production is not exemplary, only good. The set is spread over two discs, although it's more of a one disc-er, but the tracks - in true Savoy Brown fashion - are usually extended with a bit of jamming. And wow... kicking off with proto-metal classic 'Night Shift' simply rules, the band then moving onto the likes of 'Stone Blue' and 'Drivin' Wheel' from that same blessed MacGregor era, monolithic Fool For The City tracks, 'Slow Ride', 'Terraplane Blues' and 'Fool For The City', as well as one lone and squarely heavy newer song 'Mumbo Jumbo' and of course the band's rumbling take on 'I Just Want To Make Love To You'. But man, you watch a crowd go giddy with boozy dementia when the band collapses into 'Slow Ride' and you are in the midst of some rock 'n' roll magic right there - and you can hear that on this disc. This band lives and breathes that song, much better than say, 'I Just Want To Make Love To You' which never pays off the promise of its long build-up. Tacked on the end are a coupla "rehearsal tracks," one being deep album track 'Trouble Trouble' played efficiently, the other being a painful load-o-crap blues jam. All told, a few faults, but patched over hugely by two things - the band's seasoned performance, and the record's exemplary set list.
Rating 7.5

Cronos - The Anthology
(Castle Music)

OK, this is the way to put together compilations, and with the mass confusion surrounding anything Venom-related on the exploitational regurgitation front over the years, it's almost comforting to know, well, that you've got all of Cronos' solo material in one tidy package. The Anthology does just that, gathering up all three albums recorded during the man's pointless exile from Venom (three bad titles adorning: Dancing In The Fire, Rock 'n' Roll Disease and Venom), along with a handful of inconsequential rarities, for a total of two remastered CDs and 40 tracks of madness. Stylistically, what you get is "that voice," one of the most aggrieved and legendary and distinctly irony-slaying in rock, atop songs of which three-quarters could have been Venom vomitings (and many actually are, as Cronos re-recordings of Venom songs). The remastering has resulted in that scratchy, immediate explosiveness that Venom sort of own, a sense of "bursting out" that looks like an old train plunging into a ravine in India, incongruous cover of Thin Lizzy's 'Bad Reputation' notwithstanding. It's cool to hear the guys step out and groove and get melodic here as well, as Cronos briefly looks glassy-eyed at new directions. I mean, 'Midnight Eye' is a cross between hair metal and Cathedral, with much too much musicianship elsewhere to fit the bong-loaded bill of this man with a Satanic plan.
Rating 8

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