Guilty Pleasures Of The Uncool

Foghat and Lynyrd Skynyrd -- the bands' names say most of what needs to be said. But we like Don, and think he's a good writer, so we think you should read the review anyway.

The show goes on, as perhaps it must. Before grunge, there was

grungy, as in floppy hats, endless hair, and dirty jeans: say,

has what went around come around?

Let's say not, and suppose you wanna relive those dusty days

of getting-down known as the '70s. You've already got the

memories, the T-shirts, the box-sets ... now what?

Just your luck! Two bands are celebrating their third decades of frequently

lucrative existence -- Foghat and Lynyrd Skynyrd, the former endlessly

troopering on, and the latter newly, bravely reconstituted.

The great thing about Foghat is that they were never cool. Never.

Lots of people you possibly know made hits out of

"Slow Ride" and "I Just Wanna Make Love To You." Singer "Lonesome

Dave" Peverett even calls the "Hat" "the ultimate cult band,"

selling platters like proverbial hotcakes without anybody in L.A.

or New York knowing a thing about it.

So here's a live album with, woo, all the original members --

and what sounds like the original audience: "give yourselves

a hand ... it feels way to good to stop now," and so on. Road

Cases highlights the band's signature touch untouched by the

passage of time or the hand of fate -- you get Rod Price's

endless slide guitar, not-so-lonesome-from-the-sound-of-it

Dave's competent vocals, and the alleged hits. If you were

there, wherever there was, it's some kinda dream come true;

for the rest of you, it's no Frampton Comes Alive.

All God's children arguably need to boogie, and speaking of

heavenly, when it comes to Lynyrd Skynyrd, Ronnie Van Zant

has picked up his fallen brother's mantle, with help recruited from

Southern blueblood bands, Blackfoot and The Outlaws. It's a

tribute to Skynyrd's uniqueness that things don't sound the

same in this earnest configuration. Beneath the misleading

packaging, which doesn't make clear that this is the reconstituted

band, these guys actually fare best with their own recent, non-hit tunes.

"This is a song about livin," one of them goes. Yet behind

the necessarily pale versions of the familiar Skynyrd classics,

this is a credible effort, not a fraud or cash in, and it mostly

avoids knee-jerk death-worship: Johnny's own take on Ronnie's vocals

ensures that tunes are far from embalmed. There's even the nice

touch of pulling the unexpected "On the Hunt" out of the cowboy

hat. Yet devotion ain't no substitute for energy, and the band sometimes

sounds depleted, as on the enervating, inevitable "Free Bird."

For "real" Skynyrd and "original" Foghat, you will obviously need

to turn to the ample, even underestimated back catalogues of

these good old bands. But if, and only if, you simply refuse to let

the good times die, by all means, pour yourself a Second

Helping of both of these. And give yourself a hand.