All Night Long

Sammy Hagar

Capitol Records, 1978

http://www.redrocker.com

REVIEW BY: Jason Warburg

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 12/09/2002

Sammy Hagar's career as a solo act was not immediately successful after his departure from Montrose in 1974. In fact, he didn't chart a single song or album in the '70s. What he did, instead, was to build a cult following via relentless touring and a reputation for putting on electric live shows, featuring highlights from both his nascent solo career and his tenure as lead singer for a band whose name still inspired lighter-snapping reverence from legions of hard rock fans. While he would taste chart success in the '80s via a series of increasingly poppy singles (his first big hit was the cheesy 1982 fast-cars-and-girls two-fer "Your Love Is Driving Me Crazy"), his '70s following received a significant boost from All Night Long, his fourth solo album and first live disc.

The strength of this album is simple: seven tracks covering all his best early material, no filler whatsoever, and high energy all the way.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The solo tracks are the best material Hagar ever put out, pounding, raucous, celebratory tunes like "Reckless," "Turn Up The Music" and "Rock And Roll Weekend." It's obvious from song titles like those that depth and subtlety were never Hagar's strong suit, but here he doesn't even try, which frees the songs from any pretense and allows them to just flat-out rock. And really, when someone has the balls to write and record a ringing, pounding, shout-it-out-loud anthem to their favorite color ("Red"), what can you do but plant a goofy smile on your face and sing along?

This album also has the good fortune to capture Hagar's supporting band at its strongest. By 1978 Ronnie Montrose had broken up his namesake band, enabling Hagar to sweep up the entire supporting cast from those first two classic Montrose albums - Bill Church on bass, Denny Carmassi on drums, even Alan "Fitz" Fitzgerald on keyboards. The only "new guy" was Gary Pihl, a guitarist whose long tenure with Hagar was marked by an emphasis on speed over feel and a willingness to play the role of the hired gun sideman to the hilt - in other words, just what Hagar was looking for after his experience with Montrose.

Part of the fun here is getting one of the few officially recorded glimpses on record of what the live Montrose experience must have been like. While the Hagar-penned "Make It Last" and "Bad Motor Scooter" do miss the uniquely rich guitar tone of Ronnie Montrose in this incarnation, Hagar and the Montrose rhythm section still give this thundering pair of rockers a very respectable airing.

(Note: There is also a U.K. edition of this album called Loud And Clear that includes All Night Long in its entirety and adds a 1979 live performance of the Montrose nugget "Space Station #5." Don't be fooled into spending big dollars for it on eBay. Whatever magic is present on All Night Long, it doesn't carry over to the latter track, on which a tired, sloppy Hagar and band butcher a great song, reducing it to a barely-listenable mess.)

For fans of Hagar's '70s output, this album is required listening, a set of incendiary live performances that helped make the "Red Rocker" rep he's been living off of ever since. For fans of high-energy guitar rock, All Night Long is the light beer you've been looking for - less filling and it tastes great.

Rating: B+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


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© 2002 Jason Warburg and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Capitol Records, and is used for informational purposes only.