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.
That was peak Foghat. Foghat fever. Although they stomped blithely on, headbutting the challenges of punk and disco with the relentless power of the amped-up boogie, diminishing returns set in. Attempts to go a little bit new wave fizzled out with 1983’s Zig-zag Walk. They then split for a decade, before Rick Rubin encouraged a so-so 90s reunion.
Their name, perhaps, had become synonymous with old hat. This marathon 13-remastered-CD clamshell box contains its fair amount of plodding stodge-blues. Yet when they were doing their thing, they deferred not a twitch to the Allmans, the Doobies or Little Feat. A catchier hit might have seen them promoted to the ‘guilty pleasure’ strata of affection in which ZZ Top or Bachman-Turner Overdrive are held. There are even spells where you muse over whether there really was that vast a chasm, other than the magic of mythology, between them and Led Zeppelin.
As Lonesome Dave (part Roger Chapman, part Brian Johnson) asks repeatedly on that live behemoth if we’re ‘ready to rock all night’, in a very real sense, all human rock is here.