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Foghat - Stone Blue (Bearsville BRK 6977) (1978)

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Stone Blue

Released: 1978
Label: Bearsville Records
Catalog: BRK 6977
Genre: Rock
T R A C K L I S T:
01 Stone Blue
02 Sweet Home Chicago
03 Easy Money
04 Midnight Madness
05 It Hurts Me Too
06 High On Love
07 Chevrolet
08 Stay With Me
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Album Review

Donald A. Guarisco []

After racking up huge sales with Live, Foghat found themselves forced to choose between staying a hard rock cult group or trying to expand their success and become a full-on commercial phenomenon. They decided to experiment with adding a commercial edge to their sound and hired producing wiz Eddie Kramer (knob-twiddler for Jimi Hendrix and Kiss) to help them find the right balance between guitar power and studio gloss. Sadly, the resulting album, Stone Blue, is only intermittently successful because it never finds the right balance to make this compromise work. A good example is the title track: It has all the energy of a classic Foghat track and adds in some nice vocal harmonies, but it lacks the thick, bass-heavy bottom end and the bluesy edge that fuelled the band's best songs. This sonic schizophrenia goes even further on faceless songs like "High on Love" and "Easy Money," which sound like they could have been cut by any 1970s AOR band. Despite these moments of stylistic confusion, Foghat's old strengths manage to shine through on occasion: "It Hurts Me Too" is an impressive blues cover that features a searing vocal performance from Lonesome Dave Peverett, and "Chevrolet" successfully marries boogie rock riffs to a slick studio sound. However, the lack of a consistent overall direction keeps Stone Blue from being the success it could have been. In the end, it offers enough solid tracks to please the hardcore Foghat fan but casual listeners would better off checking out Fool for the City or Live for a better, more consistent idea of the group's strengths.

Foghat's Biography

Stephen Thomas Erlewine []

Foghat specialized in a simple, hard-rocking blues-rock, releasing a series of best-selling albums in the mid-'70s. While the group never deviated from their basic boogie, they retained a large audience until 1978, selling out concerts across America and earning several gold or platinum albums. Once punk and disco came along, the band's audience dipped dramatically.

With its straight-ahead, three-chord romps, the band's sound was American in origin, yet the members were all natives of England. Guitarist/vocalist "Lonesome" Dave Peverett, bassist Tony Stevens, and drummer Roger Earl were members of the British blues band Savoy Brown, who all left the group in the early '70s. Upon their departure, they formed Foghat with guitarist Rod Price. Foghat moved to the United States, signing a record contract with Bearsville Records, a new label run by Albert Grossman. Their first album, Foghat, was released in the summer of 1972 and it became an album rock hit; a cover of Willie Dixon's "I Just Want to Make Love to You" even made it to the lower regions of the singles charts. For their next album, the group didn't change their formula at all -- in fact, they didn't even change the title of the album. Like the first record, the second was called Foghat; it was distinguished by a picture of a rock and a roll on the front cover. Foghat's second album was their first gold record, and it established them as a popular arena rock act. Their next six albums -- Energized (1974), Rock and Roll Outlaws (1974), Fool for the City (1975), Night Shift (1976), Foghat Live (1977), Stone Blue (1978) -- all were best-sellers and all went at least gold. "Slow Ride," taken from Fool for the City, was their biggest single, peaking at number 20. Foghat Live was their biggest album, selling over two million copies. After 1975, the band went through a series of bass players; Price left the band in 1981 and was replaced by Erik Cartwright.

In the early '80s, Foghat's commercial fortunes declined rapidly, with their last album, 1983's Zig-Zag Walk, barely making the album charts. The group broke up shortly afterward with Peverett retiring from the road. The remaining members of the band (Roger Earl, Erik Cartwright and Craig MacGregor) continued playing together as the Kneetremblers and after some line-up changes decided to revert to the Foghat name. The band toured throughout the decade and into the early 1990's. Perhaps growing tired of early retirement, Lonesome Dave formed his own version of Foghat in 1990 and hit the road. After healing their rift, the original Foghat (Peverett,Price, Stevens and Earl) reformed in 1993 and toured for years, releasing Return of the Boogie Men in 1994 and Road Cases in 1998. The original band broke apart for good with Peverett's passing due to cancer on February 7, 2000. After some time spent mourning, the band soldiered on with a new line-up (adding Charlie Huhn on vocals) and after two years of touring released Family Joules in 2002. Foghat toured for the next few years and regularly issued documents of their live act: The Official Bootleg DVD, Volume 1 in 2004 and Foghat Live II in 2007. In 2010, now on their own label, Foghat got back to their Blues roots with Last Train Home: a handful of original tunes amongst covers of many of their favorite blues songs and a couple tracks recorded with their friend Eddie Kirkland. As of 2013, they're still performing and recording.
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