Whilst vocalists all around him of a similar age – Sammy Hagar is seventy one – go quietly (or not so quietly) down the gurgler, sounding like they dine nightly on broken glass and barbed wire, our hero pitches up for his latest album sounding just as good as ever. Tequila anyone?
Of course, he’s dialled down the ruckus a tad, although you’d not notice it on the rollicking Trust Fund Baby, which features some prime classic rock riffage from Hagar and guitar partner Vic Johnson bolstered by one of rock’s most potent rhythm sections in fellow former Van Halenite Michael Anthony on bass and sometime Led Zeppelin drummer Jason Bonham. It’s heady stuff, and when you team this up with the grumpy, grungy musings of Free Man you’d be forgiven for thinking that this was a leftover maybe from the man’s grand HSAS album Through The Fire from 1984 – he really does sound that strong.
It’s not all hell bent for leather – Bottom Line is a pleasant Pettyesque/Wilbury-styled shuffle, whilst the slick Affirmation, despite it’s chunky riffola sounds like something Robert Palmer or, worse still, Mike and the Mechanics might have conflated in the mid eighties. That said it’s not the most offensive track you’ll hear this year, and there’s always the consummate riff-rock of Chump Change to fall back on. The camp-fire singalong of Wide Open Space also offers the listener a change of pace, yet still manages to rock in dignified, elder statesman style. And you’ll love Michael Anthony’s inimitable, soaring backing vox on this track.
Thankfully, this isn’t one of those albums where Sammy tries to sound like a heavy rock Jimmy Buffett – Can’t Hang is more outlaw country than Margaritaville, and, although the band rarely get out of second gear throughout there’s still more than enough to get your teeth into here even if you’re not a particular devotee of any of the protagonists. Hagar is a master craftsman, as are his sidemen, and that’s exactly what you’re signing up for if you buy Space Between – past masters being just that.
Space Between is out now.