Sammy Hagar & The Circle
One of the worst things about lockdown – and I’ve had a telling off from a few musicians already – was the interminable live sessions; bedroom recordings of half-cocked covers. Earning income is one thing – some people needed the money, others were donating to charity, the majority of course just passing time and sharing some music but most of it was dreadful. And there were high profile failures, from Charlie Watts forgetting his drum kit to Elton John forgetting the vowels…
Sammy Hagar and his band The Circle – which features Jason Bonham (son of John) on drums and fellow ex-Van Halen bandmate Michael Anthony on bass – were part of the problem rather than the solution. Their turgid covers plodded along in the general direction of well-meaning I guess. But who could fucking care?
Well now there’s the album! Yes, the thing you were supposed to be mildly in awe of – musicians jamming together remotely – is now captured in a format where you can’t see any of that and merely wonder why they’re cutting each song short and don’t sound all that great.
The Red Rocker hasn’t handled the pandemic’s lockdown rules well – from hosting a recent New Year’s bash in his own club (but insisting it was only 50% capacity) to an amazing early Instagram plea to fans to stay strong in the hope he can get out there and play music again. He ends that message with the words, “I’m so horny”.
Pandemic be damned, Sammy wants to connect with fans! Big time!
So on this sub-30 minute rip through one rubbish new throwaway original ditty (opener, Funky Feng Shui) and the sorts of covers that fans might suggest are on point but are in fact nowhere near the mark we listen to what I’d love to write off as merely a bar-band. But Sammy and The Circle are exactly that so it might seem like a type of compliment.
The Who’s Won’t Get Fooled Again lasts only two minutes, which in itself is a kind of cruel joke, until you hear Bonham’s training-wheels tambourine intro and Sammy sounding parched almost immediately. Good Enough, one of three Van Halen covers (cruel too in the year that Eddie left us) is not even close to good enough and Sammy’s adlib of “make sure we don’t spread the virus” is basically just code for “I’m horny!”
But not content to ruin just his own songs and classic rock staples, the band’s version of reggae (Bob Marley’s Three Little Birds) would make a few Kiwi acts blush a cringe-shade of crimson. To call it woeful is to misrepresent how truly awful this is.
There’s a closing cover of David Bowie’s Heroes. Which also seems particularly cruel as it’s coming up on Bowie’s five-year death anniversary (and of course his birthday passes just before that). Like many covers of the song it seems to exist purely because the song’s title can make the suggestion that its value in any interpretation is wholesome, noble and pure.
There was a donation to food banks in America for any sales of the single ahead of the album’s release. I can’t knock that. But I can say that the music here is fucking dreadful and worse than that it’s almost entirely pointless. And most certainly void of anything resembling emotion, conviction or innovation.
I’ve listened to more Sammy Hagar albums than anyone needs to in any lifetime but this one is easily the very worst.
You can support Off The Tracks via PressPatron