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The Best of Foghat

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★★★☆☆
(29 Reviews)

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  • I have followed the band Foghat from their beginnings in 1972 on through at least 1982. I have owned, purchased, or had on tape their first twelve albums, from Foghat in 1972 on through to Boogie Motel, Tight Shoes, Girls to Chat & Boys to Bounce, and In the Mood for Something Rude in 1982. So I know something of the music of this band from before, during, and after their peak. No I’m some sort of Foghat head, that thinks that Foghat was and will always be the greatest band that ever existed. I have followed late 70’s hard rock, and anyone that was into the music of that period had heard of and most likely enjoyed Foghat, that’s how relevant Foghat was to the genre. IMHO, although one would be missing some gems, if one had to have only one album by them, it would be Foghat Live. (Don’t consider what they write at allmusic.com, they tend to be anti-70’s hard rock. Thus they try to confuse readers by writing misinformation, writing rave reviews of a band’s mediocre albums, and panning their relevant offerings.) Of all the hundreds or thousands of live albums by rock bands over the decades, only a few have ones that match their studios offerings, or in exceptionally rare cases, surpasses them. That’s what Foghat Live does. The band Foghat hit the big time with their 1975 album Fool For The City that included arguably their two biggest all time songs: Fool For the City and Slow Ride. Foghat Live, released in 1977, was recorded during that tour, was recorded at their peak, includes those two top songs, and they played them with even more intensity. Foghat Live may have only 4 other songs on it, but oh, how those songs are played. Foghat Live represented all that Foghat was at their peak. Chances are if you don’t like Foghat Live you’re not going to like Foghat. However, you could have this Best of compilation and still miss out on the best of Foghat. Recording technology improved considerably throughout the 70’s. The first three songs of the cd are from the early 70’s, are limited by the technology and budget of the time, and sound ooooold. The sound of an album is no insignificant item (look what the crispness of Metallica’s Black Album did to break them into the mainstream). So as not to be turned off by Foghat too quickly, one might be better to start with track 5 (which to their credit is from the Live album, but the least significant song on that album).

    The KEY problem with this compilation, and many others justifiably have mentioned it, is that it includes the single version of no less than four songs. They are: Drivin’ Wheel, Fool For The City, Slow Ride, and Stone Blue. These are perhaps Foghat’s most well known four songs. The absolute idiocy of having the single versions of these songs is unbelievably unfathomable. What did the money grubbing recording producers think; that people are going to miss the normal, regular versions of the songs and then go out to purchase the regular CD’s. When it comes to the greed of those in the recording industry, there are no limitations. There are numerous Best of compilations where the single versions of songs are substituted in place of the regular version. Madonna’s GHV2 is another one that comes to mind. I cannot think of a single case where the single version of a song is/was better than the regular version. (OK, Hocus Pocus by Focus is a worthy attempt, but we’re really stretching the memories of 70’s aficionados here.) Later, hearing the regular versions, they’re so different as to be almost considered completely different songs. The single versions were made for radio, being impatient to play 5 minute plus songs. And although they were the lesser version, one would rather listen to a single version of Foghat than the 5000th radio playing of a Beatles song. However, for those into Foghat, know that Foghat is a *guitar* rock, and to cut out the guitar solo of the song is to cut out the heart. Listen to the unmolested version of Honey Hush on the CD. That still retains the guitar solo… and its heart.

    Why would one get this CD… well because there isn’t squat else in a Best of compilation to get. The CD Slow Ride and Other Hits also lists shortened versions of the key songs, meaning probably the singles. I picked this up because I was less than a buck from getting free shipping and couldn’t think of any other CD to get. I figure an inexpensive CD of the lesser versions of the songs are better than none. That is the only recommendation I could write in its favor.

    One other thing to consider, is that particularly for 70’s music, CD’s have not generally been able to capture the intensity of the record album versions. This is particularly true for bands such as Kansas and Rainbow. Remastered versions of 70’s records come close to returning to that intensity. I have read articles about it, that CD’s while removing pop and hiss, lost the higher harmonics that a phonograph needle in a record groove produced from the band recording. Whatever the reason, this had been noted by many other people. (I have remastered and non-remastered versions of the same Rainbow songs on my computer, and in random play, I can tell what version of the song is playing without looking.) Now I didn’t notice that this Best of compilation was remastered. So that means that your Foghat albums packed in boxes in your garage are superior in sound quality (if unbrutalized from playing) to this CD. That means unless you find this CD dirt cheap, the memory of Foghat will probably also be better in quality.

    Posted on January 28, 2010