CD Review: Foghat 'Last Train Home'

CD Review: Foghat 'Last Train Home'
All Access Review: B+

It’s hardly surprising that Foghat would record a blues album. What does raise eyebrows is that it took them this long to get around to it.

After all, three-fourths of the original band, including guitarist/vocalist “Lonesome” Dave Peverett, bassist Tony Stevens and the solo remaining founding member, drummer Roger Earl, all cut their teeth in Savoy Brown, one of the bands that spearheaded the British blues boom of the late 1960s. And even though Foghat would make their bones in the classic-rock arena with the hard-charging anthem “Fool For The City” and the bump-and-grind, slide-guitar wail of “Slow Ride,” both timeless hits that were contractually bound to make up at least part of the soundtrack for every hush-hush late-‘70s high school kegger ever held, blues was always a part of their DNA. 

Only Earl is left from Foghat’s founding fathers to carry on the band’s good name, and for years, he’s had unfinished business he’s wanted to attend to – namely, Last Train Home, the record he and Peverett always wanted to make. And with a new pack of wild-eyed good ‘ol boys – lead vocalist/guitarist Charlie Huhn, guitarist/background vocalist Ryan Bassett, bassist Jeff Howell, keyboardist Colin Earl and Lefty “Sugar Lips” Lefkowitz on harmonica – picking up the flag for Earl’s fallen comrades, the new Foghat rises to the occasion.

A mix of fresh, new compositions and old blues covers, all electrified, Last Train Home is Foghat firing on all cylinders and pouring their hearts and souls into this labor of love. That familiar, nasty slide-guitar you loved on “Slow Ride” is front and center on the smoldering title track and slithering like a snake through the rugged, down-and-dirty grooves of “Born for the Road,” two of three new Foghat originals here. And the great thing is that everything on the electrified blues of Last Train Home bears that Foghat stamp. It’s unmistakably Foghat, Earl having taught his charges well the Foghat way, evidenced even on surprises that include the frantic piano pounding and harp blowing of “495 Boogie,” which sounds like Jerry Lee Lewis and Little Walter on speed, and “Rollin’ & Tumblin/You Need Love,” a mean, gutsy, muscular blues reminiscent of Blackfoot’s Southern rock fury.

Closing time on Last Train Home comes after Foghat interprets two more traditional blues numbers by special guest Eddie “Bluesman” Kirkland, the slow, simmering “In My Dreams” and the whorehouse swagger of “Good Good Day.” While Kirkland sings, and does so expressively, Foghat shows a different side here, performing with touch and feel instead of the more straightforward rock and roll that almost becomes too paint-by-numbers with the band elsewhere on Last Train Home. That slight criticism aside, Foghat has truly honored Peverett’s wishes with this tribute.

-         Peter Lindblad

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