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Foghat: Fool For The City - Album Of The Week Club review

Like a reverse Status Quo, Foghat played boogie blues but were ignored at home while becoming a rock radio staple in the US

Foghat: Fool For The City cover art
(Image: © Bearsville)
Foghat: Fool For The City

Foghat: Fool For The City cover art

(Image credit: Bearsville)

Fool for the City
My Babe
Slow Ride
Terraplane Blues
Save Your Loving (For Me)
Drive Me Home
Take It or Leave It

All but erased from the canon of rock history, Foghat were indecently popular across the States for the duration of the 70s. Most who stumble across sledgehammer hits like Slow Ride or Fool For The City possibly don’t even realise they were British. 

Yet their no-nonsense brand of blues rock or arena boogie thrilled teenagers, like those who populated Richard Linklater’s Dazed And Confused movie, just as much as home-grown riff-titans such as Kiss or Lynyrd Skynyrd.

Frontman Dave ‘Lonesome Dave’ Peverett and two other Savoy Brown alumni teamed up with guitarist Rod Price, gave themselves a nonsense name and saw a 1972 debut, produced by Dave Edmunds, open the door to FM airplay. Its raucous cover of Willie Dixon’s I Just Want To Make Love To You trashed the melody but dialled up the thrusting.

Their second was also technically named Foghat – they weren’t exactly art-school handwringers – but became known as Rock And Roll: it featured a picture of a rock and a bread roll on the cover. That went gold; so did Energized.

Dubbing themselves ‘Rock And Roll Outlaws’ (the next album title), Foghat were now a slightly baffled, where-did-it-all-go-right monster. 1975’s Fool For The City went platinum, and in 1977, Foghat Live, their definitive showcase, sold two million copies.

Every week, Album of the Week Club listens to and discusses the album in question, votes on how good it is, and publishes our findings, with the aim of giving people reliable reviews and the wider rock community the chance to contribute. 

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Other albums released in September 1975

  • Blues for Allah - Grateful Dead
  • Minstrel in the Gallery - Jethro Tull
  • Alive! - Kiss
  • Fighting - Thin Lizzy
  • Second Chapter - Danny Kirwan
  • Wish You Were Here - Pink Floyd
  • Crisis? What Crisis? - Supertramp
  • Ted Nugent - Ted Nugent
  • Wind on the Water - Crosby & Nash
  • In Trance - Scorpions
  • Extra Texture (Read All About It) - George Harrison
  • Caress of Steel - Rush
  • Another Green World - Brian Eno
  • Artful Dodger - Artful Dodger
  • Bandolier - Budgie
  • Face the Music - Electric Light Orchestra
  • Hotline - The J. Geils Band
  • John Fogerty - John Fogerty
  • Landed - Can
  • Masque - Kansas
  • Maximum Darkness - Man
  • Procol's Ninth - Procol Harum
  • X-Rated - Black Oak Arkansas

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What they said...

"It still stands out as the best album in the group's catalog because it matched their road-tested abilities as hard rockers to a consistent set of tunes that were both well-crafted and ambitious. The tone for the album is set by its title track: This hard-rocking gem not only pairs riff-driven verses with an effective shout-along chorus, but also throws in a few surprising moments where the guitars are taken out of the mix completely and Nick Jameson's bass is allowed to take the lead in a funky breakdown." (AllMusic (opens in new tab))

"It’s a tight and well-balanced album, ambitious but not altogether predictable. It’s not innovative or groundbreaking but every track is solid. It showed Foghat at their absolute best. From hard rock to acoustic ballad numbers, it offered so much more to the listeners. While working on Fool for the City, they were simply jamming and having fun" (Society Of Rock (opens in new tab))

"Foghat kept it simple and friendly, playing blues and boogie for folks who just wanted to down their lager and smoke their spliffs to the sound of some good-time rock’n’roll. Unlike, say, Sweet, the guys in Foghat needn’t look back at old photos of themselves in glittering silver crotch-high platform boots and say, “What was I thinking? I look like a total git!” (The Vinyl District (opens in new tab))

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What you said...

Greg Schwepe: Fool For The City is a “Two Song Album” by a “Two Album Band.” I bought this probably less than a year after its release when seeing it at two separate friend’s houses in their record collections. “Man, everybody’s got this one!”

Foghat is a purveyor of “Boogie Rock”, where you take a basic blues, throw in some slide guitar and an overdriven amp… and voila, you have yet another rock genre. This genre seemed to be born and perfected in the UK.

To make sure I did my album review due diligence, I listened to the whole album all the way through; even though I wore deep grooves in my original copy back in Junior High with my substandard turntable stylus. And wow, I was surprised as it rocked a lot more than I remembered.

If you ever bought one Foghat album (or 8-track!), this was probably it. If you never bought this album and have a passing interest in rock music, chances are you know two songs from this album; Fool For The City and Slow Ride. Hence my earlier comment about this being a “Two Song Album.” Regular reviewers in the CRAOTWC know way more than two Foghat songs, guaranteed.

The title track gets you going right out of the gate and you’re hooked. My Babe comes next and while I knew it was a cover, I didn’t know until writing this it was done by the Righteous Brothers. Have never heard their version but am guessing this one is way more rocking.

Track three at the end of side one brings you 8 minutes and 14 seconds of Slow Ride. This is in the top half of everyone’s “Top 10 Classic Rock Songs That Make You Grab The Volume Knob And Crank It” list. The opening drumbeat, killer slide guitar, more slide guitar, the crazy buildup at the end. You’re all sweaty just listening to it. And the intro on the live version; “Are you ready to take a sloooooooow riiiiiiiide!?” “Well, of course I am! Strapped in and ready to go!” You get my point here.

So now we move to side two and there’s Terraplane Blues. I know for a fact I didn’t know what “Delta Blues” was when I bought this as a teen. Had no idea who Robert Johnson was. Didn’t (and still don’t) know what a “Terraplane” is. But for me this song was the surprise of my re-listening to the album. Acoustic slide intro, then BAM, we’re in the delta, but on steroids. Probably my favourite track outside “The Two.”

Foghat was one of those sneaky English bands who took American Blues, made it their own, then sold it back to us here in the States. Other sneaky English bands like this were; The Rolling Stones, Cream, and Led Zeppelin. “Here’s some music made in your own backyard that you may have not appreciated the first time around, but we’ve made it our own, rocked it up and we’re selling it back to you! Enjoy and you’re welcome!”

This album clocks in at about 35 minutes and was made when you had precious space to deal with, so you made the best of the time available. This is a good example of that. A few albums we’ve reviewed the past few weeks were made in the CD age where you had up to 60 minutes or so to fill it up with junk, and a lot of comments then about excess filler. Not the case here!

I made mention of Foghat being a “Two Album Band” early in my review. For me, if you want to know everything about what Foghat is and about, buy Fool For The City and Live. Those are the two albums you’ll ever need. While they made decent albums after this, they seemed to have the same formula; good rockin’ leadoff song with more blues covers. And while that is not a bad formula, just stick with the album that they did it best on, this one.

Alex Hayes: I very much conform to the stereotype when it comes to Foghat awareness levels. I'm in my late 40s, and British to boot, so the band had no chance really. Prior to this week, I could count the number of the band's songs that I'm familiar with on one hand. Both of those tracks can be found on Fool In The City.

Of all the internationally successful rock bands that the country of my birth gifted to the world back in the day, I'm struggling to think of an outfit as little regarded in their own backyard as Foghat. They signed to an American record label, Bearsville Records, early on in their career and never looked back, literally. If the playlists of UK classic rock radio are to be believed, Foghat only ever recorded two songs. Again, you can find them both on this album.

If Fool In The City is any barometer though, then that's really our loss, not theirs, as it shows them to be a pretty class act. Of course, the two tracks that I've been alluding to, the title track and an extended version of Slow Ride, are the true standouts here. The rest is enjoyable enough, if a little workmanlike. I must say, I would have appreciated a little more variety between the songs. With that in mind, Take It Or Leave It was a welcome change of pace to see the album out for me. Maybe that's the difference overall. Your average Led Zeppelin album, for example, tended to be much more ambitious.

Fool In The City is a well crafted and produced album. Helping to underpin it all are some tremendous bass lines. I was immediately struck by the quality of the bass playing here. It turned out that it was the work of Nick Jameson, the album's producer, and not actually a regular member of the band. Ah, well...

This is a pretty damn good 'boogie rock' album. To be honest, it was never gonna turn my world upside down. It was too one dimensional for that. It was fun though. I'm happy to have shed at least a little of my ignorance of the band, and I'm also willing to bet that Foghat came across as a great live act.

Mark Paul: Before listening to this album today I only knew Foghat from Guitar Hero using Slow Ride. Whilst I like Slow Ride it doesn’t rescue this album from overly repetitive songs and uninspiring lyrics. At times it reminds me of 70s Quo with about 85- 90% less rocking to it. Not a fan.

Uli Hassinger: I remember that the live album was praised as their go-to album. combined with the warning to stay away from the studio albums because they are too lame. I wanted to buy the live album but somehow it never worked out. So I never heard anything by them until now.

British band? There is nothing British on this album. The singer is the blueprint of a US singer of the 70s. Then there are some southern rock riffs and slide guitars combined with funky rhythms. A combination of Creedence Clearwater Revival, Chicago and a little bit of ZZ Top. There is nothing British at all. So their success in the US is nothing that shakes my world.

Let's focus on the songs. The best songs by far are Take It Or Leave It with its smooth keys and the atmospheric guitar solo and the cool cover song Terraplane Blues. Save Your Loving is good too. The other songs are average at best. I was wondering that Slow Ride seems to be a pure rock classic. Never heard that song before. Apart from that it's the worst song of the album. The funky bass lines don't match the rocky guitars and are just annoying. Terrible song. To sum it up it's a 6/10.

John Davidson: I'll file under good but not great. The opening track Fool For The City and Slow Ride are the highlights. The other songs are enjoyable but haven't lingered. It's straight up the line boogie blues and no harm in that .

Gary Claydon: I think that, when I suggested Foghat for review, I asked the wrong question. The answer to the question "What was it that made them so popular across the pond?" is fairly obvious. An American acquaintance of mine once told me that Foghat were about as American as a British band could ever get and you only have to listen to Fool For The City to hear the truth in that. 

No, what I should have asked is how come a band who enjoyed such huge success Stateside could make virtually zero impression in their native country? On the US charts they had eight gold records, one platinum, one double platinum. Just to put that into perspective, in the band's '70s heyday, a US gold album meant half a million units shifted amounting to a million dollars worth of sales at the wholesalers' retail price. Platinum was double those figures. 

Impressive numbers yet, even at the height of their success, you'd have been hard put to find any Foghat albums in the racks of UK record shops. So why the indifference? Lack of promotion? They were signed to Albert Grossman's Bearsville Records. A look at Grossman's client list tells you he was no mug so was he likely to have missed an opportunity to push Foghat in the UK? 

The only music press exposure they received was by way of news snippets about album releases, high profile gigs etc. and, on what passed for rock radio in Britain, you probably had more chance of hearing The Queen guest-yodelling for Focus than you were to hear a Foghat track. Ultimately, was it simply that their music didn't appeal to UK audiences?

Fool For The City is regarded as one of Foghat's best albums yet I find it... underwhelming. As I have everything of theirs I've ever heard. It's not a bad album per se. The guitars here are decent enough, as are the vocals and the bass work is possibly the best thing about the album. It's just that, even on "classics" such as Slow Ride' and the title track, it's all a bit one dimensional. Ordinary. The best track for me is the cover of The Righteous Brothers' My Babe.

I tend to think of Foghat as an American Status Quo (except they are British, of course!).They hit on a formula that worked for them, which found favour with the record buying public and which they stuck to rigidly, backing it up by gigging hard & garnering a reputation as a kick-ass live band. Unlike Quo, who still managed marked success away from home (though never in America), Foghat's inability to move far from the tried and trusted is probably a large part of the reason they found little success outside of their main market. 5/10

Brett Deighton: Like many people commenting here I knew Foghat through Slow Ride and that’s about it. I agree with those who found the first few songs the strongest. I enjoyed the rest of the album though. I could happily take this album on a road trip and play it front to back. Who doesn’t need some slide guitar mixed with that “Boogie vibe?”

Bill Griffin: My previous exposure to Foghat was limited to Foghat Live and the single Chevrolet. I liked them both but I guess not enough to go exploring. This was actually quite good, a nearly perfect representation of boogie rock. Maybe it's time to go on an adventure.

Kevin Miller: The big Foghat album in the US was Foghat Live, and it’s considerably better than this. When I was young, Slow Ride came on the radio at least every other hour. It was huge. It’s still played very frequently on classic rock radio.

Brian Carr: “What made them so popular?” It’s all about songs, even if it’s just one or two. I have dozens of songs that are so ubiquitous I can’t stand to hear them anymore and Slow Ride and Fool For The City would seem to fit that bill. But for some reason, those two never reach that point for me, especially the title track - I’ve always loved it and at this point, I figure I always will. Despite my love for Fool For The City the song, the only Foghat album I ever bought or even listened to was Live. Once again, our Club gives me a chance to explore further.

The not unexpected result is a mixed bag. If the album was full of boogie songs like My Babe and Save Your Loving, I’d be as flat as I was when we reviewed Status Quo. But there’s enough juice to those tracks and their cover of Terraplane Blues to slightly pique my interest. Album closer Take It or Leave It gives me that desired unknown cool tune - even if it’s only a precursor to something like Imaginary Lover by Atlanta Rhythm Section, I love the vibe.

I didn’t get to spend too much time with this week’s selection, but there’s enough there to make me want to listen more. 

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Final Score: 7.47 (65 votes cast, with a total score of 486)

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