ENERGIZED TURNS 48!
Episode # 3 by Mike Mettler, official FoghatStorian 01-07-22
Energized, Foghat’s third studio album, was released 48 years ago by Bearsville Records on January 6, 1974. Produced by Tom Dawes (also known for singing and playing guitar on The Cyrkle’s No. 2 hit single in 1966, “Red Rubber Ball”), Energized reached No. 34 on the Billboard Top 200 Albums chart — the first of seven consecutive Foghat albums to make it into the Top 40 — and was certified as Gold by the RIAA, signifying over 500,000 copies sold, within a year of its release. (Just like we said about Night Shift last November, we feel it’s well beyond time for a revised, updated sales recertification!) A rousing cover of Buddy Holly’s 1957 rockabilly favorite “That’ll Be the Day” and the radio edit of the funky come-on “Step Outside” were both released as singles, though neither of them made any dents on the U.S. Hot 100 singles chart. (For those of you keeping stats, “Honey Hush” — a longtime Foghat favorite of ours that we’ll delve into further in just a bit — saw release as a promo single in Japan.)
The band’s firing-on-all-cylinders follow up to March 1973’s table-setting Foghat (a.k.a. Rock ’n’ Roll, which was also produced by Dawes), Energized was the album that put Foghat on the map as a rock band truly to be reckoned with. Energized’s 39 concise minutes served up a clear template for Foghat’s no-nonsense, boogie-rockin’ blueprint as laid down by the fully in-sync four-man collective comprised of lead vocalist/guitarist Lonesome Dave Peverett, slide-guitar and dobro maestro Rod Price, bassist Tony Stevens, and drummer/percussionist extraordinaire Roger Earl.
Energized kicks off with “Honey Hush,” the album’s most-played song on Spotify, which eagle-ear fans will also rightfully note contains the band’s unabashed nod right out of the gate to the jump-blues classic “Train Kept A-Rollin’,” not to mention Lonesome Dave’s vocalized winks to The Coasters’ No. 1 1958 hit “Yakety Yak” and Jeff Beck’s 1967 reading of “Hi Ho Silver Lining.” In addition to the aforementioned “That’ll Be the Day” and the full-length version of “Step Outside,” Energized teems with the driving force of tracks like the true rockin’ aim of “Golden Arrow,” the riff-roaring “Home in My Hand” (another longtime setlist favorite), the hard-plucked “Wild Cherry,” the Stevens-penned travelogue “Fly by Night,” and the album-closing, slide-tastic pleader-teaser, “Nothin’ I Won’t Do.”
Incidentally, for all you Foghat physical-media completists out there, besides its inclusion in the Foghat: Original Albums Series and The Complete Bearsville Albums Collection box sets respectively, Energized appears as part of a pair of two-fer import collections: 1) the Rock ’N’ Roll – Energized 2CD combo from Essential/Castle Music, and 2) the Energized – Rock and Roll Outlaws 2CD combo from Edsel Records.
The Energized album’s, well, uber-energetic, electric blue-and-green typeface artwork also marked the first appearance of the iconic, spherically oriented Foghat logo that continues to appear on all the band’s albums and official merch to this day. Said cover artwork, as designed by Pacific Eye and Ear, sought to reflect the kinetic reputation the band was in the midst of reinforcing as an exciting live act literally in the process of moving up from being an opener to achieving wholly earned co-headlining status. “I would love to take some credit for it but I can’t, because it is a really cool logo!” Roger says of the Energized artwork with a hearty chuckle. “The Warner Brothers art department came up with it, and as soon as we all saw it, we all went, ‘Wow!’ We had a few other logos in mind, including one Dave had made — but as soon as we saw that one, we knew we had the right one. We said, ‘We’ll take that!’
You know, this reminds me I had to create a whole new font for that logo when I designed the cover for the Family Joules album, because I actually did the artwork for that one myself.” (Not to worry, fellow FoghatFans — we’ll get much deeper into the making of March 2003’s Family Joules just a few short months from now!)
Inside the cardboard confines of that storied Energized cover, much prime Foghat music was waiting to be found — even if the back cover of the original LP has all the songs listed completely out of order! — and much of it remains in the modern-day Foghat setlist wheelhouse. Take the galvanizing opening track, “Honey Hush,” a song that remains quite beloved by both the band and their fans alike. “It was originally written by Big Joe Turner,” Roger recounts of the R&B-leaning track from 1953, “so it was more of a swinging kind of thing that we took more towards Johnny Burnette’s Rock and Roll Trio version [from 1956]. Of course, we played it a lot faster because that’s how we looked at these things. And I believe Rod [Price] played his amazing lead solo live for the basic track.”
Another interesting aspect of “Honey Hush” is that, once its killer basic track had been laid down, producer Tom Dawes (who passed away at age 64 in 2007) suggested adding in some cello accents as an overdub. “You have to listen for them, but they give a great feel to the tune,” explains Roger. “It’s actually what Rod and Dave were playing, and it’s all circumvented with about a dozen cellos. But it would really be difficult to bring them all on the road with us, right?”
As noted earlier, “Honey Hush” also contains more than a nod to the early jump-blues standard “Train Kept A-Rollin’,” a song made famous during the initial rock era by The Yardbirds and Aerosmith, among others — and it’s a patented Lonesome Dave move, duly laden with his preferred vocal effects to boot. “Dave was a rock and roller, and he always liked a little bit of echo on his vocals,” details Roger. “What was it [original Foghat producer] Dave Edmunds would say — ‘A little bit of reverb goes a long way way way way. . . ’” Roger lets his voice trail off after whispering the last “way” before adding, “That’s stereo, everybody! We sure had fun with that one.”
Roger Earl discusses the recording of “Honey Hush”
Concurs Bryan Bassett, Foghat’s ace lead and slide guitarist who, without a doubt, has put his own stamp on “Honey Hush” after playing it live for many years himself, “It’s a great song. It’s a classic, not only with the ‘Train Kept A-Rollin’ thing that’s going on, but it goes all the way back to the rockabilly era too. It’s just a great guitar song, and once we hit the center section where the solo is, the guys sometimes have to put the hook out on me to reel me back in!”
Perhaps the most fun Roger had while making Energized was when he got to play his own drum kit in the studio directly next to respected R&B/soul drummer Bernard Purdie, who came to play on a pair of Energized tracks thanks to a conversation Roger, Dave, and Tom had while hanging out together in Manhattan. Tom made mention of his working with legendary artists like Aretha Franklin and James Brown, pointing out Purdie was the only drummer he wanted to hire to get behind the kit for any of his sessions. “After he said that,” Roger notes, “Dave and I both looked at each other and asked, ‘Would he come and play on our record?’ And he said, ‘Yes — as long as you pay him!’”
Dave and Roger decided they wanted the inimitable “Pretty” Purdie to play on “Wild Cherry” and “Nothin’ I Won’t Do,” a pair of fairly straight-ahead rock and roll tracks whose arrangements had already been worked out. To them, these were the Energized cuts that made the most sense to have two drummers play on together. “We set up in the studio side by side, with the band facing me in a semi-circle, and Bernard Purdie to my left,” Roger recalls. “And he’s like a musical hero to me. Pretty’s played with anybody and everybody. He’s one of the best players who ever lived, and he’s an absolutely fabulous human being and a beautiful man.”
(Roger Earl discusses Bernard Purdie & recording “Wild Cherry” & “Nothing I Won’t Do” in 1974)
Soon enough, producer Dawes entered the studio and handed Purdie sheet music for the two songs to be played. After Roger and Purdie bonded over talking about drums and got more and more comfortable with each other, Purdie leaned in to tell Roger the secret to his success. “This has stayed with me forever, by the way,” Roger reveals. “He said, ‘We’ll do the song once to get the arrangement, twice to get the performance, and then we’ll do it a third time for fun.’ And that’s exactly what we did. He was an absolute gas to play with. I’d met him a few times after that, and he’s one of the greatest drummers to ever walk the planet, as far as I’m concerned.” (In addition to mastering what has long since become known as the “Purdie Shuffle,” Purdie, now 82, also played drums on albums from the likes of Toto, Steely Dan, Cat Stevens, Hall & Oates, The Rolling Stones, and a host of others.)
Speaking of the perennially tangy “Wild Cherry,” is it any coincidence that our main axe man Bryan Bassett just happened to play guitar in a popular band of the same name in the mid-’70s — as in, the Midwestern-faves Wild Cherry, best known for “Play That Funky Music,” their No. 1 single from 1976? “No, we never played the song ‘Wild Cherry’ while I was in Wild Cherry — no, no, no,” Bassett confirms with a laugh. “But Wild Cherry were playing in arenas across the country around the same time or a few weeks after Foghat would be at them, in 1976. I would always see their name on the bills, the ads, and the posters, but we didn’t meet until much later. What’s funny is, whenever I hear fans call out for ‘Wild Cherry,” sometimes I get confused and think to myself, ‘Well, which one?’” Interestingly enough, “Play That Funky Music” does contain Bassett’s all-too-brief Rod Price-inspired solo, and Foghat have recently added it to their set. The fans love this highly recognizable tune and you can hear and watch the Foghat version on their latest double CD/DVD, 8 Days on the Road which was released on July 16, 2021.
All kidding aside, Bassett is forever grateful for his own energetic Foghat experiences. “I wanted to return to my blues rock roots,” he acknowledges, “and when I first met Dave [in 1989], it just seemed like it was my destiny to play with these guys.” (And we’re more than happy to have you in the fold, Brother Bryan!)
It should also be noted there was also a wonderful Foghat promo film put together by Penelope Spheeris, the acclaimed director of the history-of-metal documentary series The Decline of Western Civilization and the classic 1992 comedy film Wayne’s World. This 20-to-30-minute film short played in theaters at the time of Energized, and it definitely seemed to help spread the Foghat word far and wide. (And we very much look forward to speaking with Spheeris about that very film project for a future FoghatStory installment.) Observes Roger, “She was really lovely to work with, and Warners put a tremendous amount of effort into promoting it. Is that what put us over the top? No, it was all because of our skills as rock and rollers,” the drummer says with a nod and a wink.
The bottom line is, Energized continues to provide much juice for Foghat and their fans, 48 years and counting after its release. “By the time we got around to doing Energized, things were getting really, really hectic,” Roger concludes. “We didn’t have a lot of time off, but when we went into the studio to do it, we knew what we had to do. We really had a lot of fun making this record.”
Truth be told, it’s not too hard to see why Foghat had so much fun making such a game-changing album in the first place, for Energized clearly reflects the energy and promise that would only serve to fuel the band as they continued upward and onward to conquer the rock and roll outlaw horizon ahead of them.
Keep an eye on this space for many more in-depth FoghatStories to come — all of which are the precursors for the officially authorized Foghat biography by author Mike Mettler that we currently have in the works! Stay tuned!!
All I Want for Christmas Is . . . Foghat!
Episode #2 by Mike Mettler, official FoghatStorian 12.21.2021
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, as the saying goes — though when it comes to Foghat, it also sounds a lot like Christmas as well.
While many bands from the classic-rock era are known for having one or maybe even two signature Christmas songs in their arsenal, Foghat actually have more than a few in their collective quiver — not surprising, really, given that Foghat have never been a band for doing what anybody else does, anyway.
In order to celebrate the pure joy of the holiday season in the proper FoghatWay, I recently Zoomed it up on multiple occasions with founding drummer Roger Earl and the band’s ace lead and slide guitarist Bryan Bassett to discuss the origins of Foghat’s perennial holiday cheer and why their renditions of all these wonderful holiday songs endure, and then asked them to share their personal holiday wishes to all Foghat fans across the globe. Do join us here beside the holiday fire, won’t you?
One of Foghat’s earliest Christmas celebrations on record came with their raucous cover of Chuck Berry’s beloved 1958 holiday chestnut “Run, Run, Rudolph” (a song also known by its alternate title, “Run Rudolph Run”), which initially appeared on a Bearsville Records promotional 45 single in 1978, and has since appeared in the Rarities portion of Disc 2 on the 2012 Edsel Records 2CD compilation that also includes all of Girls to Chat & Boys to Bounce, In the Mood for Something Rude, and Zig-Zag Walk as well. (As is the case with most of the Foghat holiday songs we’ll be discussing here, “RRR” can also be found on a number of holiday-related compilation discs and digital holiday playlists alike.)
“We did do a version of that song — but it’s not me playing drums on it,” Roger reveals of this roof-burnin’ track that features the indelible Lonesome Dave Peverett on lead vocals, ax maestro Rod Price on slide guitar, and Craig MacGregor on bass. Why wasn’t Roger on it, you ask? One very good (and/or very bad!) reason. “What happened was, I was whisked off to the hospital because I had appendicitis! I was feeling really, really ill at home at the time, and I just couldn’t get out of bed. It wasn’t a lot of fun. When I finally got to the hospital, they took one look at me and said, ‘Oh, we’re opening you up right away!’ Lucky for me, it was literally caught in the nick of time. So, yeah, that’s why I wasn’t playing drums on that one — our manager did.” (Not to worry, fellow FoghatFans — Roger did ultimately get to play “Run, Run, Rudolph” onstage with his ’mates back in the day.)
When I suggest the Foghat of 2021 could easily recut their own version of the song now and call it “Re-Run Rudolph” instead, Roger agrees with a hearty laugh. “You know what? Both Charlie [Huhn, lead vocalist/guitarist] Rodney [O’Quinn, bass] and Bryan would be up for that!” Bryan grins his approval while Roger pauses briefly, then sings one of the song’s most familiar lines, “Run, Run, Rudolph, Santa’s gotta make it to town!” — before adding, “Yeah, maybe we could do that as some kind of single for next year.”
Next up is “All I Want for Christmas Is You,” another promotional Bearsville Records 45 single, this time coming from the December 1981 incarnation of Foghat that featured Lonesome Dave on lead vocals and guitar, Erik Cartwright on lead guitar, Craig MacGregor on bass, and Roger Earl on shakers, and was produced by longtime Foghat compatriot and one of the band’s former bassists himself, Nick Jameson. “All I Want” also makes its appearance on CD as the last track on Rhino’s 1992 offering, The Best of Foghat, Volume 2, as well as at the very end of CD2 in 2006’s double-disc Rhino set, The Definitive Rock Collection.
“All I Want” is pure, classic Lonesome Dave, who wrote the song and made sure to give it a good ol’ skinny-tie-era rockabilly spin. Also take note of the track’s boogie-woogie piano lines and totally wailing saxophone solo in the back half, complete with Dave’s reverb-drenched play-by-play vocal encouragement. “What’s that from, the Girls to Chat & Boys to Bounce era?” ruminates Roger. (In a word: Yes!) “I mean, I must have done it, but I don’t recall playing it! And that’s unusual for me, but there you go. It’s a really fun holiday song, though!”
Following “All I Want” a few years later came the two-sided December 1986 single, “Goin’ Home for Christmas” backed with “Santa Claus Is Back in Town.” This self-released 45 featured E.J. Burgeson on lead vocals and guitar, Erik Cartwright on lead guitar and vocals, Craig MacGregor on bass and vocals, and our man Roger on drums and “libations.” A promotional video made for “Goin’ Home” — which is easily accessible on YouTube if you’ve never seen it, or want to revisit it, STAT — shows the band in full holiday reverie as they first emerge from their tour bus on the side of a highway, attempt a few tentative dance steps right next to it, perform in a packed club, and share a few backstage hijinks and hotel banquet hall dinner follies, plus they’re seen playing the song in the snow with a pair of formidable Marshall amp stacks in tow. (Incidentally, a certain repeat lyrical reference to “a long Slow Ride” is no mistake either, just in case you were wondering.)
“We recorded that one around Thanksgiving at a studio down in Tallahassee when we had only a few days off,” Roger confirms, “but we shot some of the video where it was snowing and cold. It even got some airplay on MTV at the time.” When I ask Roger about the, er, “nice try” of the four guys trying to perform their dance moves in sync near the side of the bus, he immediately confesses, “Craig was the choreographer that day, but I think he lifted it off a ZZ Top number! Craig said, ‘Let’s do this,” and I said, ‘Alright’ — but then I f—ed it up, so never mind! It was all in good fun for the holidays, right? But I do want you all to know I was quite the dancer in my youth, and I could cut a rug with the best of them!”
“Going Home for Christmas:” https://youtu.be/E_rVKHH9L5A
Side B is quite notable for the starring role Roger takes on Leiber/Stoller’s “Santa Claus Is Back in Town” as the song’s ostensible narrator, a role he continues to relish to this very day with various recurrent filmed readings of holiday favorites that continue to pop up online here, there, and everywhere. This particular version, however, includes a quite delicious aside when Roger goes, “He sees you when you’re sleeping? I don’t think so!” Of the song itself, our favorite narrating drummer lad notes, “It was fantastic fun doing that one! The kids really like it — and we like it too! Actually,” Roger muses, “We’ve been thinking about re-recording that one.” (Well, who knows — a new Earl of the Holiday reading of sorts just might show up online any day now if you’ve been nicer more than you’ve been naughty, so keep your eyes and ears peeled accordingly!)
Finally, we come to Foghat’s galvanizing instrumental version of “Winter Wonderland” that was released digitally in 2013 and has since shown up on various compilations and playlists. “Winter Wonderland” features some of Bryan’s textbook, tasty-af slidework on the song’s instantly recognizable melody lines, surrounded by a vibrant holiday-party-in-progress atmosphere and some perfectly placed sleigh bells to boot — not to mention a mid-song break where Roger makes a, shall we say, positive festivity-reinforcement exclamation all his own. “We were down here in Deland, Florida,” Roger recalls, “and we were talking about writing a new Christmas song, or maybe even doing another version of ‘Run, Run, Rudolph.’ We were going through a bunch of different things, and I think Bryan came up with the idea of doing an instrumental — and, of course, his playing on it is absolutely brilliant! It was a different take for us, but it was fun.”
Adds Bryan, “We really did just do it for fun, like Roger says. We were talking about songs that would fit our style, and we wanted to figure out something I could play on slide. I mean, most Christmas songs are in major keys and are pretty easy to play on slide guitar — but I just love that song, you know? From a guitar standpoint, I started noodling around with different positions until I found the second chord, and that’s what fit the song.”
“Winter Wonderland”: https://youtu.be/Mri1iohBkqQ
Before we leave you with visions of sugarplums and/or Foghat videos dancing in your collective heads, I asked both FoghatMen to share why Christmas songs and other holidays tunes seem to touch folks so deeply, and what the holiday season means for all of us.
Bryan first: “My favorite holiday song, of course, is ‘Let It Snow!’ — the original version. Everybody loves hearing Christmas songs, whether you play them around the tree, the campfire, or wherever. The Christmas songs we choose to play in Foghat just fit in with our overall feeling about how we want our music to affect people.”
Roger gets the final word: “Well, the holidays are important because it’s all about being with your family, putting up trees, buying presents, drinking wine, and dancing with your best friend. We hope everyone enjoys the holidays, wherever you are, and we’ll see you all very soon!”
And with that, from all of us here at foghat.com, we say to you . . .
Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good FoghatNight!!!
Next month, in FoghatStory: Join us in this space in early January 2022 as we celebrate the 48th anniversary of Foghat’s third studio album, Energized, which was released by Bearsville Records on January 6, 1974. See you all then, fellow FoghatFans!!!
Night Shift Turns 45!
Episode #1 by Mike Mettler, official FoghatStorian 11-23-21
Night Shift, Foghat’s sixth studio album, was released 45 years ago by Bearsville Records on November 18, 1976. Produced by Dan Hartman — the acclaimed bassist for Edgar Winter Group and the solo artist behind the 1984 Top 10 single “I Can Dream About You” — Night Shift reached No. 36 on the Billboard Top 200 Albums chart and has since been certified as Gold by the RIAA, signifying over 500,000 copies sold. (It’s high time for an updated sales recertification, we say!) The hard-charging opening track “Drivin’ Wheel” reached No. 34 on the U.S. Hot 100 singles chart, while the heartfelt, strings-drenched album-closing ballad, “I’ll Be Standing By,” made it to No. 67.
The band’s eagerly anticipated follow up to September 1975’s uber-successful million-selling Fool for the City, Night Shift continued to creatively expand upon the special four-man groove that made Foghat a household name. In addition to the aforementioned album-bookend tracks “Drivin’ Wheel” and “I’ll Be Standing By,” the gritty gear-shifting movements of “Don’t Run Me Down,” the keep pushin’ on thrust of “Burnin’ the Midnight Oil” (which also happens to be the album’s most played track on Spotify), the signature sizzle of “Night Shift,” the good-time jammin’ of “Hot Shot Love,” and the funkified recasting of “Take Me to the River” all serve to reinforce the in-studio mind meld between lead vocalist/guitarist Lonesome Dave Peverett, slide guitar maestro Rod Price, then-newly appointed bassist Craig MacGregor, and drummer/percussionist extraordinaire Roger Earl. (Eagle-eyed fans will also note the acoustic-driven “New Place to Call Home,” an unfinished song unearthed from the original sessions that appears as a bonus track on the currently out-of-print 2006 Wounded Bird Records Night Shift CD reissue, among other places.)
Why does Night Shift continue to hold such sway with Foghat fans both new and old alike, 45 years after its release? It’s really quite simple, according to Foghat’s founding drummer, Roger Earl: “This is a working man’s band, and the album has a working man’s title,” he observes. “Whether you’re sitting behind your desk or you’re on the line putting wheels onto cars, that title is what grabbed people right away — and the music delivers on it.”
Special note must be given to the band’s uplifting, funky cover of “Take Me to the River,” a version of Reverend Al Green’s 1974 soul classic so original and so musically compelling that it remains in the band’s setlist to this day. “The idea for covering that song came from Lonesome Dave — of course,” confirms Roger. “Lonesome Dave had knowledge of all things music, whether it be blues, jazz, country, rock & roll, or any other genre. That song was particularly tricky to get the groove and tempo on, but Craig and I sat down together and worked it out. Dave changed some of the lyrics, the phrasing, and the melody. Dave was always somewhat of a reluctant hero, but he was one of the best. When he wasn’t singing, he was very quiet. But when Dave was performing — whether he was singing or playing his guitar — he lit up like a downtown Christmas tree.” (Lonesome Dave passed away at age 56 in 2000.)
As the Night Shift rehearsals commenced in the British band’s adopted homebase of Long Island, New York — first in the backroom of a local pork store before moving to friendlier recording confines — Jimmy Iovine, a Bearsville favorite who at that point had engineered albums from John Lennon and Bruce Springsteen, was initially slotted as the album’s producer. However, things just didn’t work out, as evidenced by the band and their newly minted producer butting heads about three songs into the process. “The truth is, Rod and Dave were struggling with writing the songs this time around,” Roger admits. “We didn’t really have any of the songs ready to go when we went in there with Jimmy. To the best of my recollection, Jimmy was a really cool guy — and, honestly, it wasn’t his fault and it wasn’t my fault, because I was ready to play. Rod and Dave were just struggling to have the material put together before we went in and recorded the songs.”
As a result of all this initial in-studio tension, Iovine was ultimately fired from the Night Shift project. Iovine — who went on to produce and/or co-produce blockbuster albums from the likes of Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers, Stevie Nicks, and U2, to name but a few — actually appreciated the band’s honesty. His observation about what happened appeared in hindsight in the 2017 documentary he shared with rap mogul Dr. Dre titled The Defiant Ones: “I was an idiot. I got fired . . . [but I was] able to be numb enough to keep going.”
Luckily, the Foghat team behind the scenes had Dan Hartman waiting in the wings as their suggestion to take over as Night Shift’s producer. Once all parties agreed to the production change, the band shuffled off to Hartman’s 16-room colonial-home studio in Connecticut alternately known as the Schoolhouse, where everything finally began coming together. Hartman, who sadly passed away at age 43 in 1994, told Circus magazine in 1976, “These songs really have a lot of color. The band’s writing is showing more professionalism. The songs are more commercial in a sense that more people will enjoy listening to them…They’re just doing things people like.”
It was a good match to begin with, seeing how Foghat already knew Hartman personally from having spent time with him on tour when he was a member of Edgar Winter Group, and they warmed to his taking over the producer’s chair almost immediately. “Dan was also a bass player, and he was a huge help,” agrees Roger. “When we first went to his house and were setting up, he gave Dave the additional time he needed to come up with the right material. This was also the first time I had worked with click tracks. We used the click because we didn’t have all the arrangements down yet, and it helped us concentrate on what we were doing. It basically gave us a solid base for learning the construction of the songs.” Not only that, but the large-room vibe of the Schoolhouse recording space helped lend Night Shift its “big” overall sound.
Night Shift was also the first Foghat album graced by the marvelously supportive bass tones of Craig MacGregor, who stepped into the fold after bassist Nick Jameson ended his first stint with the band earlier in 1976. MacGregor immediately made his mark by bonding with his drummer. “As far as our connection goes, Craig MacGregor was my brother,” Roger confirms. “There was this one line he came up with about what we do. He said, ‘the bass and the drums lay out a road for the rest of the band to drive on.’ I always thought that was the perfect description of it. I miss everyone to some degree, but I think I miss Mac most of all. Mac and I were tight.” (MacGregor passed away at age 68 in 2018.) Indeed, just listen to the 40-plus minutes of good “road” the MacGregor/Earl Rhythm Section Axis laid down for all seven of Night Shift’s songs to hear exactly how the pair nailed that thought to a T.
For his part, Rod Price — who unfortunately passed away at age 57 in 2005, and would have literally just celebrated his 74th birthday on November 22 — also talked with Circus in 1976 about the inherent merits of Night Shift. “Foghat has always evolved [with] each album, but it’s still within the rock & roll framework we’ve maintained,” Price outlined. “There’s regular Foghat-type songs, but also a couple of types we’ve never attempted. There’s a real slow ballad [i.e., “I’ll Be Standing By”], but it’s still very much Foghat.”
Of Price’s perpetually acclaimed guitar prowess, Roger notes, “There are a number of special moments of Rod’s playing on Night Shift. He could play beautiful and delicate, and he could also wail — even with the slide, which requires some deft fingering. Rod was a huge part of that album and a huge part of this band, even to this day.”
Upon completion, Foghat felt Night Shift was a keeper, and their audience responded in kind. In fact, the ensuing tour to support Night Shift became the basis for the band’s blockbuster August 1977 live album, simply titled Live. “I knew right after we finished Night Shift at least three songs from the album would be in our live set, which at the time would sometimes run as long as an hour and 45 minutes,” Roger concludes, identifying “Drivin’ Wheel,” “Take Me to the River,” and “Night Shift” as the three golden tracks that continue to endure in their onstage incarnations.
Fact is, whenever you’ve got music that embodies powerful love and has a steady roll that moves your body and rocks your soul, there’s no further proof needed to bolster the idea that Night Shift is a truly classic Foghat album for the ages.
Keep an eye on this space for many more in-depth FoghatStories to come —
all of which are the precursors for the officially authorized Foghat biography by author Mike Mettler, that we currently have in the works! Stay tuned!!