Hagar, Sammy - 1984 VOA


ARTIST: Hagar, Sammy
LABEL: Geffen
SERIAL: GHS 24043 (LP), 9 24043-2 (CD)
YEAR: 1984
CD REISSUE: 2008, American Beat Records, 24742


LINEUP: Sammy Hagar - lead vocals, lead guitar * Gary Pihl - guitar * Bill Church - bass * Jesse Harms - keyboards * David Lauser - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 I Can't Drive 55 * 02 Swept Away * 03 Rock Is In My Blood * 04 Two Sides Of Love * 05 Dick In The Dirt * 06 VOA * 07 Don't Make Me Wait * 08 Burnin' Down The City


Looking over the career of the Red Rocker, his stint with Van Halen and his musical direction since then can obscure just how good he was at times prior to that.

He had already put out five solo albums in addition to the two with Montrose before signing with Geffen, with which he had delivered two successful releases in 'Standing Hampton' and 'Three Lock Box'.

Those two albums contained several catchy hard rock songs that were all over radio in the early 80's. A relentless touring schedule only helped his popularity, as he could certainly deliver a nice show. No need to mess with a winning formula, which brings us to this 1984 release.

The Songs

Of all of Hagar's hits, the most popular may very well be lead track 'I Can't Drive 55', a song that resonated with lead-footed drivers (like me as a teenager) everywhere. Fast-paced (naturally) and energetic, this became a huge hit.

'Swept Away' is the only track on here that is somewhat different. I'm not always convinced of Sammy's experiments, but this one works very well, alternating mellow acoustic interludes with hard-rocking guitars and vocals. Some nice keyboards in here too.

'Rock Is In My Blood' is one of the most underrated songs in Hagar's catalog. It's a slow burner, with keyboards adding tons of atmosphere to the driving guitars.

'Two Sides Of Love' was the first single, and it prompted me to drive to the record store to get the 45 (I of course got the album soon after). I got this song's meaning as a 17-year-old, but it makes even more sense 30 years later. Even though Sammy gets some grief for some of his lyrical content, he'll occasionally nail a relationship song.

Side two opens with one of those songs with dubious lyrical content, 'Dick In The Dirt'. This song is so full of double entendres that you can't help liking it, and it is an enjoyable listen. A scorching guitar solo certainly helps.

Title track 'VOA' (Voice Of America) is one of those hard-rocking patriotic American anthems written basically to thumb our noses at the Soviets and anyone else in cahoots with them.

'Don't Make Me Wait' is another relationship song, not as excellent as 'Two Sides Of Love' but still a winner.

The album ends with Hagar's ode to the street artists of New York City in 'Burnin' Down The City', a fine tune with slow intensity. And with Sammy dropping an f-bomb in the middle of it, I've had to be somewhat selective when playing it.

In Summary

This is not a lengthy album, with eight songs and coming in under 37 minutes. Some might call that short, but I prefer to call this a lean and muscular album.

Hagar definitely sticks to his strengths here, hard rock without any crazy experiments. It worked, leading to platinum sales in the U.S.

The tour supporting this album was a big success too, the best concert I ever saw was from it. Unfortunately, Hagar never achieved the heights he hit, at least to me, with anything he did after this album.

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