Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Foo Fighters - Greatest Hits

Foo Fighters
‘Greatest Hits’
LONG BEFORE he was hanging around with Led Zep’s John Paul Jones and best buddy Josh Homme, Dave Grohl was an angry tub thumper with a little band called Nirvana, his incessant drumming raising the level of that band tenfold when he joined in 1990.
Four years later Kurt Cobain was lying in his garden shed with his shotgun, and Grohl was left bandless and aimless. He has certainly made up for that in the intervening period, driving the Foo Fighters to millions of album sales worldwide and recording six albums, as well being involved in Homme’s Queens of the Stone Age, plus side-project Probot and double-jobbing with the likes of Tenacious D, Nine Inch Nails, and latterly, Them Crooked Vultures.
The span of songs on this 16 track greatest hits covers most of the Foo’s six albums, with two new songs, Wheels and Word Forward, plus an acoustic version of Everlong - which appears on the album in both electric and acoustic form. Of these new tracks, Word Forward is the more impressive, Grohl using his trademark growl to remind listeners that the band still have that urgency that characterised their earlier hits, despite the fact that the Foo Fighters have been on “hiatus” since 2007.
That said, first single Wheels contains an engaging guitar line that is also classic Foo Fighters, Grohl demonstrating his melodic powers in spades on the track.
The Foo Fighters have always been better when tuned down and at their most relaxed, as demonstrated here by the Metallica-esque The Prentender, the earnest Best of You and the aforementioned rhythm of Everlong.
Some of this, like Learn To Fly, ranks among a category dismissed as soft-core rock and you wonder what Cobain might have made of Grohl’s later output.
However, this should not take anything away from the quality of such a track, and it is at this level that the Foo Fighters are at their peak; All My Life, Learn to Fly and Times Like These notable standouts.
Grohl was writing all the time he was with Nirvana, but was not eager to share his tracks with Cobain and Novoselic, a b-side here and a guitar riff there aside. Novoselic and Grohl did play around with ‘Big Me’ in the absence of Cobain shortly before the end, and it appears here - an almost countrified guitar line complementing Grohl’s sweet vocal - ‘but it’s you, I fell into’.
It is simply mind-boggling how many of these hits are familiar and recognisable, and it is testament to Grohl that - side-projects aside - he has spent the decade after his time with Nirvana making mainstream radio-friendly, rock anthems that are as intelligent as they are memorable.

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