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 BearsvilleAlbums 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!!