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Chickenfoot - "Chickenfoot III" (CD)

Chickenfoot - "Chickenfoot III" CD cover image

"Chickenfoot III" track listing:

1. Last Temptation
2. Alright Alright
3. Different Devil
4. Up Next
5. Lighten Up
6. Come Closer
7. Three And A Half Letters
8. Big Foot
9. Dubai Blues
10. Something Going Wrong

Reviewed by on October 1, 2011

"'Chickenfoot III' finds the band fully embracing its history and influences to create an album that plays to every one of its strengths."

Even without name-checking Led Zeppelin's "Houses Of The Holy" on the single "Big Foot," there's no denying that Sammy Hagar-fronted supergroup Chickenfoot is serving up an ample tribute to its 1970s influences on the deceptively titled "Chickenfoot III." The riffs have the muscle of Led Zeppelin, the rhythms the slink of the Rolling Stones. And all that's before you get to the mind-bending guitar solos and pop-infused choruses that recall the best of Van Halen.

It's rare that supergroups manage to even equal the sum of their parts, let alone surpass it. Given that Hagar and bassist Michael Anthony come from one of hard rock's definitive outfits, Van Halen, while drummer Chad Smith has played with arguably the greatest alt-rock act of the last two decades, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Joe Satriani has carved out a reputation as one of the great guitar gods of all time, it's easy to see how hard it would be for a band like this to even meet expectations. And, to be fair, the band's 2009 self-titled debut fell a bit short of the mark, with tunes that largely fell on the generic side. It was almost as if Hagar and crew, in the quest to establish a new identity for themselves, ran a little too far away from their roots.

From the opening notes of "Last Temptation," it's obvious that this time, the band has brought more of its history and influences to bear — and that the members are more bonded musically. Satriani, in particular, seems more relaxed on this outing, cutting lose with a solo that exceeds anything he played on the first Chickenfoot disc — and he's just getting started.

"Alright Alright" brings to mind David Lee Roth-era Van Halen, particularly in the simple, infectious chorus, in which Michael Anthony's backing vocals will take you immediately back to around 1980, and Satriani's solo, which is pure EVH. Those looking for a return to "Van Hagar" will enjoy "Different Devil," which wouldn't have felt out of place alongside a track like "Finish What Ya Started" from "OU812."

The riffs on "Up Next," "Dubai Blues" and "Big Foot" all recall the debt every one of these musicians owe to Led Zeppelin, though the choruses make good use of Hagar and Anthony's vocal harmonies.

"Come Closer" feels like a "Some Girls"-era Rolling Stones tune, with Hagar taking an approach that evokes Mick Jagger. Smith's drumming on this track returns to the funkier style that he's perfected with the Chili Peppers, to excellent effect. The band goes full-on blues on "Something Going Wrong," which has an almost country feel in parts.

The one sour note comes with the well-meaning "Three And A Half Letters," in which Hagar reads from hard-luck letters sent to him by fans who are out of work. The letters, which provide the verses, are powerful stuff, as are the almost painful solos Satriani provides for each one. Unfortunately, Hagar felt the need to go with a conventional song structure, and the "I need a job" chorus is quite weak in comparison to all the other ingredients in the mix.

The production, by the band and Mike Fraser, is excellent, with everyone getting ample space in the mix. Anthony's bass, in particular, benefits. Those who remember his thumping tone on early Van Halen tracks are going to be quite surprised by the versatility he shows here.

"Chickenfoot III" finds the band fully embracing its history and influences to create an album that plays to every one of its strengths. Whether you're a Van Halen fan looking for something to hold you over until next year, or just a fan of classic hard rock sounds, you're going to find plenty to love here.

Highs: "Alright Alright," "Different Devil," "Come Closer" and "Big Foot."

Lows: A weak chorus on "Three And A Half Letters"

Bottom line: An instant classic that finds the supergroup channeling the best of its history and influences.

Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls
4.5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)