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Music Review: Foghat – Last Train Home: Limited Edition LP

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Foghat’s Last Train Home was originally released in 2010 and caused a bit of a stir with their fans. It was a great disc and was greeted enthusiastically. It was so well received in fact, that they have just issued a special, limited-edition vinyl version of it. This is not a new phenomenon; vinyl is making something of a comeback, especially with classic-rock acts. Although LPs account for a miniscule amount of music sales overall, some of us never completely abandoned it. With Last Train Home, Foghat have produced an outstanding package. Not only is the double-album limited to just 1,000 copies, but it comes in a beautiful gatefold sleeve, and the vinyl itself is a stunning shade of blue.

Blue is a natural choice for the set, as this is a collection of blues songs, which has always been a part of Foghat‘s music. Their first hit was a cover of Willie Dixon’s “I Just Want To Make Love To You” off of their 1972 debut Foghat. What they did with those older songs was to put a seventies rock spin on them, which FM radio ate up. Their heyday (at least for some of us) was their 1975 Fool For The City album, which contained the classic “Slow Ride.”

There were more hits to come, but things changed over the years. Like so many groups of the era, Foghat’s audience slowly fell off. It’s a sad story, but the group continued to record and play live regardless. By 2010, two members of the “classic” Foghat lineup had passed on – “Lonesome” Dave Peverett in 2000, and Rod Price in 2005. The 2010 CD release of Last Train Home was dedicated to the memories of them.

The group that recorded Last Train Home consisted of Roger Earl (drums), Charlie Huhn (vocals, lead guitar), Bryan Bassett (lead and slide guitar), Jeff Howell (bass), Colin Earl (keyboards), Lefty Lefkowitz (harmonica), and special guest Eddie “Bluesman” Kirkland – who played guitar and sang on “Good Good Day,” and “In My Dreams,” (both of which he wrote as well). Sadly, between the time of the CD release, and this LP – Eddie was killed in an auto accident, and he too receives a special memorial dedication on the back cover.

Last Train Home is a tribute to the blues masters who inspired Foghat in the first place. It is a project that Roger Earl and Lonesome Dave had discussed doing for years, but unfortunately Peverett had left us by the time it became a reality. The vinyl release date of February 7 marked the 12-year anniversary of Peverett’s death.

As previously mentioned, two of the 12 songs were written by Kirkland. Three others are Foghat originals, written by various incarnations of the group. Six were written by blues legends Otis Rush, Chuck Willis, Muddy Waters, Willie Dixon, and Elmore James (two tracks).

The remaining track is “Needle And Spoon,“ written by Chris Youlden. It originally appeared on the 1969 Savoy Brown album Raw Sienna. For those who may be unfamiliar with the historical roots of Foghat, both Roger Earl and Dave Peverett were members of Savoy at the time. In fact, they left that group to form Foghat, so the inclusion of this song has a special significance.

One of the things about the blues I have always enjoyed is the fact that age never seems to be an issue. For one thing, the songs themselves are “old.” But I was thinking more about the artists. Take Muddy Waters for example. For anyone who has seen The Last Waltz (1978), his performance of “Mannish Boy” just about stole the show – and that is saying something considering the level of talent who performed that night. Waters was 63 years old at the time.

As a band, nobody on Last Train Home can be accused of slacking. In fact, they seem to be egging each other on to stronger and stronger performances. This may sound like a back-handed compliment, but it really is not intended that way. With this set, and the way they play – they are like the ultimate roadhouse blues band anyone could ever hope to see. All 12 songs are great, but I particularly enjoyed the medley of “Rollin’ & Tumblin’”/”You Need Love.” The two Elmore James tracks are very strong, as is the Muddy Waters tune “Louisiana Blues.”

The three Foghat-written songs also sound good, especially the album-opening “Born For The Road.” The set closes with the two Kirkland cuts: “In My Dreams,” and “Good Good Day.” With all due respect, they are fine, but not my favorites.

The only “new” vinyl albums I have bought over the past decade or so have been special reissues of older releases. Last Train Home is a little different. It was obviously very carefully crafted to appeal to fans like myself. It really does remind me of the classic-era, with some great photos, liner notes, and cool sleeves.

Last Train Home is obviously a real labor of love for the group. From the songs they chose, to the memorials to lost members, and the performances themselves – this is a recording they really cared about. For older guys like me, the vinyl version makes it better than ever. I’m a bit surprised that this is limited to just 1,000 copies – because I think there are far more people who would be interested in this edition than that small number. It makes it all the cooler though, as each copy is hand-numbered.

The Last Train Home Limited Edition LP is available exclusively through the Foghat website.

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