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Sammy Hagar: Life On the Coastline

hagarlivinfrontSammy Hagar and the Waboritas – Livin’ It Up!
July 25, 2006
Rhino Records
Victim of Loudness War? Yes

Before listening to Sammy Hagar’s latest release, Livin’ It Up, one thing must be understood: Sammy is now in this business to please himself. He’s not trying to win new fans, he’s not trying to break new ground – he’s simply trying to do what makes him and his dedicated following of “Redheads” happy. And given that basic premise, Living It Up can certainly be considered a success.

The album kicks off with its lead single, “Sam I Am,” a song that is Hagar’s own testiment to what he is and what he isn’t. The lyrics are pure fun, surrounded by a driving riff and catchy runs on a lap steel guitar. The song sets the tone for the entire record by essentially saying, “I don’t really care what you think of me, this is what I am.” You may not like it, but you have to give Hagar the respect for staying true to himself nearly thirty-five years after his career got started.

Make no mistake about it – Livin’ It Up is a typical Sammy Hagar album, in as much as it features some really brilliant moments and some really disappointing moments. But the good news is that for the first time since 1997’s Marching To Mars, the brilliance far outweights the disappointment. Some of Hagar’s best tracks are featured on this set, including the touching “Halfway to Memphis” and the beautiful closer “Someday.” Conversely, there are only a handful of duds, the most notable of which is a cover of Bob Dylan’s “Rainy Day Women #12 & 35.” A definite crowd-pleaser when included in Hagar’s live set, the studio version heard on Livin’ It Up is an absolute mess. But when all is said and done, there are only three songs on the album that miss the mark, a percentage rate that most other bands could only dream of approaching.

The bottom line is that if you didn’t already like Sammy Hagar and enjoy his music, Livin’ It Up will not be the record to turn you around. It’s an album for people who not only like Hagar but subscribe to his lifestyle, which consists of good times, open minds and as little stress as possible. Hagar knows who his fans are, knows what his fans like and caters to those two things throughout Livin’ It Up. At 59, the man is still in great voice and seems to be at a very happy place in his life. After such a successful run in the music business (and a lucrative dabbling in the tequila business), Hagar doesn’t need to be making records and touring; he does it because he wants to. In short, Sammy Hagar is the new Jimmy Buffett – a true free spirit that does what he wants, when he wants…because he wants to.

Livin’ It Up will not break any sales records or make a crossover to the latest commercial scene. It won’t stop naysayers from continuing to make fun of him, nor will it earn him any more respect with the usual batch of critics. But what it will do is thoroughly satisfy his faithful fanbase from start to finish, which is the goal Hagar seems to really be after.

– Ian Rice

To purchase a copy of Livin’ It Up, please click here.

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July 25, 2006 Posted by | Cabo Wabo, Mexico, Rock, Sammy Hagar, Van Halen | Leave a comment