|Sammy Hagar and The Wabos:
Livin’ It Up! Label: Rhino Records
Oh, Sam, what ever happened to my namesake? You know, the original Red Rocker…emphasis on the Rocker? Maybe the overpriced, over-hyped blue tequila you’ve spent too much time trying to pimp onstage the past few years has finally turned you soft. Maybe it’s just part of the aging process. But I never thought we’d see the day when you stoop to covering recent country hits or delivering an entire album of goofy beach songs that even Jimmy Buffett would turn his nose up at.
“Try to be your paper boy, try to be your boy scout, try to be your ice cream man. I could not be your soldier or even drive your bus, my skills weren’t always obvious,” the king of lyrical chutzpah boasts on the bluesy “Finish What Ya’ Started”-like opener called “Sam I Am.” David Lee Roth was our ice cream man, Sam. Remember? At this point, we’d settle for you dancing with the proverbial one that brought ya. Where’s the guitar solo? Or the high-energy arena rock anthems about summer and girls and getting wasted? Where’s anything I can blare from my car stereo without getting shot?
Songs like “Living on a Coastline,” “Mexico,” and “One Sip” have about as much classic rock bravado as “Margaritaville.” Buffett cornered the market on this stuff, man, then Kenny Chesney relieved him of his crown a few years ago, while Jack Johnson plays for the scraps they both leave behind. There’s no room left for you here, Sam I Am.
Then there is straight up attempts at new country like “Halfway to Memphis,” which is better suited for Nashville Star than a Hagar record. But things really go awry when the Artist Formerly Known as Red Rocker attempts to re-do Toby Keith’s three-year-old hit “I Love This Bar.” Toby fricking Keith, are you kidding me? Eddie and Alex have every right to kick your beach-combing, mid-life crisis having, cowboy hat-wearin’ ass, Sam I Am!
Listless ballads like “Some Day” and “Sailin” can’t even save this mission, the later of which might recall “Eagles Fly” from, dare I say, the glory days. And do we really need another cover of “Rainy Day Women #12 & 35,” for the love of everything sacred in classic rock? In the end, there is nowhere to begin or end with this project. It seriously feels like Hagar is standing at the crossroads with someone pointing left and someone else pointing right. Not being able to decide himself, he instead cops a squat, ala the Thinker, and grunts out a big ol’ pile of crap.