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Issue: March 2009

Old Farts Can Still Rock, Apparently

Cosmic Universal Fashion (Roadrunner Records)
Sammy Hagar

Sammy Hagar, the 61-year-old ex-Van Halen and Montrose singer, has released several solo albums and hit singles ("I Can't Drive 55" and "Mas Tequila"), while more recently making a chunk of change from his Cabo Wabo Tequila, but Hagar shows he still knows how to rock 'n' roll on his latest effort, Cosmic Universal Fashion.

Hagar's spunk had been questioned after his acoustically chilled 2006 release, Livin' It Up, but he returns loud and heavy and proves his vocals are still up to par. The track "Psycho Vertigo" is a perfect example. Hagar screams, "One world, one life, one love… the world's gone vertigo," over a '70s metal riff that elbows Sabbath and Zeppelin with dark squealing guitars, a monsoon of a bass tone and chunky erupting drums.

The drums continue to pound in a Bonham-fashion on "Peephole," which creates a sort of audible déjà vu that conjures images of an early-90's Soundgarden and their Badmotorfinger album. The heavily distorted guitars frenzy around a rock-solid bass and lead vocal track. Hagar sings just above a whisper before erupting into a tearing scream. "Locked in a closet without any clothes on. Mommy knows and she been peepin' through the hole," the red rocker screams the mysteriously twisted lyrics in grunge fashion.

Tracks like "24365," filled with Eddie Van Halen-esque guitar riffs and "Loud," a one-two power-chord rocker, are less threatening than the others, but just as entertaining, returning to Hagar's '80s metal days. Other tracks like the Beastie Boys cover "Fight For Your Right to Party" show Hagar's age and aren't as cool as he probably expected. Kind of like the brightly colored sweater that your Dad or Grandpa whips out during the holidays.

Still, Hagar is gifted with an amazing hard rock voice and it's good to see he still knows how to use it. If it's not cheesy, it's dead on and an enjoyable listen for any Montrose, Van Halen or Hagar fan. If not, the side project Chickenhead, which consists of Hagar, guitar legend Joe Satriani, Van Halen bassist Michael Anthony and Chili Pepper's drummer Chad Smith, is set to release it's first album in early 2009.

Want to learn more? It's all at www.redrocker.com.

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