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Bearsville 2077
Released: July 1972
Chart Peak: #127
Weeks Charted: 21

Tony StevensRod PriceRoger EarlDave PeverettThat's Foghat, not Hogfat. And not Savoy Brown either, although with Lonesome Dave Peverett and Roger Earl in the lineup, one might see Hog-- uh, Foghat as a direct spinoff of that tedious British group. Foghat is in fact the antithesis of that Savoy Brown kind of dreary, plodding music, and the group's first album is a fast-moving, tough, completely unpretentious collection of rock & roll. The album, produced by rock neo-classicist Dave Edmunds, makes a perfect companion piece to Edmunds' own Rockpile, released earlier this year. Producer Edmunds places the emphasis on sound, and a quirk of schedules has enabled the listener to hear just what magic Edmunds performs in his mixes: Edmunds mixed five of the nine tracks, but was evidently not around to do the rest, so the chore was taken care of by Nick Jameson. The tracks that Dave mixed are echoed, phased, and sharpened to a startling razor-like edge, while the rest sounds like regular humans playing music. The contrast is most apparent in the sound of Peverett's lead vocals: Jameson brings out the actual timbre of Lonesome Dave's even, unspectacular, sometimes Daltrey-like voice, but Edmunds turns him into a human scythe, his jagged voice ripping across the songs with demon-robot abandon. Let it be said that the self-taught Edmunds is nearly without peer as the creator-in-the-studio of that raw, edgy, primitive sound so closely associated with rock and roll.

But it's the music itself that is the single most impressive aspect of this album. Foghat is a two-guitar, bass, and drums band that knows exactly how much to bite off for itself. Within the strict limits imposed on them by the type of music they're playing, the group displays a keen imagination coupled with a shrewd sense of dynamics. The album begins with a spirited, irreverent remake of Willy Dixon's "I Just Want to Make Love to You." A low, thumping bass and two guitars alternating a short riff open the song in a steady but relatively quiet manner. The low volume is a set-up, a false start causing you to reach over and turn it up at just about the point at which the song's real beginning roars through the speakers. Peverett's vocal, with its ominous, full-treble tone, matches the evil guitar sound on the track almost perfectly, as if all the elements emerge from a single, alien source. This may be a Willy Dixon song, but it is most assuredly not the blues these guys are playing. "I Just Want to Make Love to You," with its sly, crushing intro and raspy intensity, was the natural choice for the first Foghat single.

Lonesome Dave's "Trouble, Trouble" and the group-written "A Hole to Hide In" are strong examples of the classic rock & roll song, with controlled but impatient verses followed by inevitable explosive choruses. Guitarists Peverett and Rod Price make a powerful team; each seems preoccupied with controlled, pungent rhythm guitar playing, to the exclusion of all but the briefest, most necessary solo. I suppose there had to be a Chuck Berry song on here -- it's "Maybelline," which has been done so often that it's getting a little frayed around the edges. Without the Edmunds supermix, "Maybelline" falls short of the two Berries on Rockpile, but it's still more than just competent. The third non-original, "Gotta Get to Know You" (this ain't the song popularized by Spanky and Our Gang), throws a slight change-up, ending the album. The pace is slowed, textures are muted, and the inclusion of what sounds like a mellotron both softens and fills out Foghat's stark and abrasive sound. It's not "Layla," but it's a classier way of ending the album than a no-holds barred, big-gun climax would've been.

If your best-of-the-year vote goes to Exile on Main Street, you're gonna like both Foghat and the Edmunds LP. Hearing them may prompt you to move the Stones back a notch or two.

- Bud Scoppa, Rolling Stone, 9/14/72.

Bonus Reviews!

In the music industry, the initials MOR stand for "middle of the road" -- which means light mood music, Broadway show tunes, and watered-down versions of contemporary pop hits with choral groups singing "doo-wahhhh" as the string section scrubs away. It is a little above the level of Muzak. Within rock itself there is no organized MOR (unless it be from such artists as the Carpenters, whose fluffy sound is more obviously pop in the old sense); all hard rock is considered to be contemporary, right-on, and, um, groovy. But it's time either to define a new kind of MOR, or to declare one, that could apply to rock. This would embrace all "known" rock forms: folk-, hard-, Jesus-, poetic-, pathetic-, bathetic-, country-, and so on. Under this heading would fall all those groups and singers who don't do anything wrong, provided that it's all been done before and very often done to death. The determining factor for including a band or singer in the category would be that they are Obviously Doing the Obvious -- there! That's it! ODO rock!

And if anybody is ODO, then it's Foghat. Every guitar solo and amplifier-induced tone here has been heard before. The vocals are all standard white screamers. The tunes, with two exceptions, are as flat as Kansas. Even the final stereo mix sounds the same as dozens of other albums (this is distressing, since producers usually do the mix, and producers are, in theory, individuals).

Foghat would fare much better if they stayed away from writing their own material until they are capable writers. Otherwise they will remain ODO-rock hacks.

- Joel Vance, Stereo Review, 12/73.

Formed last year by three ex-Savoy Brown members and Rod Price, this straight-ahead rock set brings the band into their own as performers and writers. Specializing in the wall of sound variety of rock and blues, the group also shows themselves to be top notch at slower material as well. Vocal honors go to Lonesome Dave Peverett, one of the few shouters who can do it in tune, and to Price for his fine guitar work. Best cuts: "Ride, Ride, Ride," "It's Too Late" (Foghat's, not Carole's), "What A Shame."

- Billboard, 1972.

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