Yee Ha! 2015 and here comes Sammy Hagar,Micheal Anthony,Vic Johnson and Jason Bonham calling themselves The Circle and pumping out a live album of Sam I Am’s solo hits. Some of Jason’s Dad tunes(John Bonham (RIP)of Led Zeppelin). Mikey Anthony and Sams own Halens hits in Van Hagar! Boom and throw a little Montrose on top with Rock Candy….interested?
Mas Tequila Hombres….
THERES ONLY ONE WAY TO ROCK- so it’s apparently clear that this live album is gonna sound live as you can hear the twangs of Mikey’s bass as the rest of the band opens with a thundering ripping opening and some dude introduces each memeber of The Circle and Hagar is introduced as the C.E.O of Rock ,The Red Rocker…. and wham bam into Theres Only One Way To Rock. Hagars voice is still awesome at what age 67? Geez man the dude does know how to rock and with Vic Johnson on guitar as well they form a real good duo burning and turning on the fret board and Wowzers what a fantastic start! Also of note its good to hear also Anthony’s backing vocals cranked. Good to have Ya around here Mikey! In case you’re wondering these fellas play Theres Only Way To Rock more in line with the version on Sams Standing Hampton album than the Van Halen version that we all know and love from The Live Without A Net Video!
ROCK CANDY-Hard Sweet and Sticky Sez Sam and he ditches the guitar and let’s Vic Johnson take over and it’s apparent real quick that Vic can play and man his solo on this tune is so wickedly good goes from fret burning at the beginning of the solo and changes his tone and boom just plays it so good for a send off! Sammy knows this as he chirps Vic Johnsons name numerous times throughout this record and why wouldn’t Sam do it! Bonham plays a slow burn groove on the drums and Mikey lays down the bass and hey its Rock Candy!
GOOD TIMES BAD TIMES- the dudes slam right into Jason’s family tree with Good Times and it’s a great version! I guess it helps when your jamming and you got Bonzos kid slammimg the drums behind Ya! Vocally Sammy pulls it off he knows his register and he sings the song while Anthony lays down the bass and Vic plays the tune and does not overplay it! Gotta respect that. For these guys The Song Does Remain The Same! Hahaha…ok that was brutal !
POUNDCAKE- just read my review of Poundcake from this album that was dropped into my ITunes library when I preordered it….read it here..https://superdekes.wordpress.com/2015/03/23/cool-lil-numbers-the-circlepoundcake/
I CANT DRIVE 55-SAMs real big solo tune! Ah Muc do you remember that V.O.A Tour of 84? Anyways Vic and Sam double down some lean mean fighting duel guitars and Mikey man like i said earlier it’s good to have Ya back thumping on Yer bass and nailing down the backing vocals! Life is once again A ok at Arena Rock!
MIKEYS BASS SOLO- 3 minutes of Mikey’s distorted sometimes note playing solo thrown into the mix here! That’s ok folks Anthony deserves this man,he’s Rock Royalty! The coolest thing is his solo ends in a huge wall of sound like a UFO is landing and it goes into …
WHEN ITS LOVE- watch the clip that is posted! Sammys vocals are locked and loaded on this tune! The chaps beside him on stage deliver this tune on how it should be delivered and that’s with style! Great track still after all these years!
WHOLE LOTTA LOVE-back to Jamsville with some more Zep and Vic plays guitar and keeps himself in check meaning he stays true to the classic but when he needs to he adds little bolts off lightening when duty calls! That’s the cool thing and I can listen to these tracks (Zep Covers) no probs as it’s a Bonham drumming them,Sam singing them,Johnson guitaring them and Anthony laying it all down using his bass as the anchor!
LITTLE WHITE LIE- cool little slide guitar action tune from Sams Marching To Mars record! Love the beginning of this track tons o slide,cool lead and backing vocals and then it slams head straight into Bonhams drum kit and he beats the shit out of it and this song just rocks in all the right ways! Well done Mr Hagar!
WHEN THE LEVEE BREAKS- how about Sam and Vic nailing down some dual slide guitar action on this song and watch them destroy the Levee on their own! 8 minutes of pure Hagar Zep mash up! These Guys take the song build it up smash it down and build it up again! Great great stuff! Love how at the beginning they actually use John Bonhams actual drum intro and than Jason plays along with it. Cool stuff …..
MOBY DICK- Bonham gets to shine and kick his drums into submission during his solo spotlight. Dude can play! Hello !
WHY CANT THIS BE LOVE-love it Hagar introduces this song from 1985 hahaha…thats two songs Sam that you have introduced with the wrong year! (Poundcake)Hahaha..that’s ok man your Sam Hagar and this is the tune that we all know that put the version of Sammy Halen on the rock map! (Damn I still gotta review 5150!) 2014 Sam and Crew play this song to T and Anthony throws down a few lead vocal lines as well! Another classic dose brought to you by Club Sam!
FINISH WHAT YA STARTED- dada da…da da brurup bup bup..or something like that that’s me making guitar noises on my iPad! But as a VH fan we all know this song and these fellas on this track like all others are having fun man! Love the driving bass of Mikey during the chorus the guitar finger pickin of Sam and Vic and Bonham punches the gas so the bus won’t stall and keeps the song driving! Love this version and Ya I can say …I miss Sam in Halen! Say what Ya want but they wrote many classic tracks …this is one of them!
HEAVY METAL- the fun continues right into Sammys Heavy Metal! What a great tune! Now that’s a power riff if I ever heard one! “Headbangers in leather! Sparks Fly in the dead of the night” it’s all there! Sammy sings and jams his guitar and shares the lead vocals with not only Mikey but Vic throws down a few lead vocals as well and these guys are not taking themselves too serious! “It’s your one way ticket to midnight…call it HEAVY METAL!!” Well said Sam!
VICS GUITAR SOLO- Vic plays a little under a minute and half solo! He knows his deal and Yep it’s a good solo I mean he takes the Kiss philosophy (Keep it simple silly!)
BEST OF BOTH WORLDS- love this song and it’s a good rock out! It’s just good to hear these Halen tunes again since the bros in VH don’t wanna know about them! When Sammy hollers “it’s 5150 time,” you know he fuckin means it! Great song man …..
RIGHT NOW- oh man Sammy he proclaims “here’s a song from 1993” Ummm Nope Sam it’s 1991 and that’s Right Now! I mean these guys could have corrected Sammy introducing the years wrong in the studio bit they choose to leave it… good on Ya ..warts n all! Sammy sings this one and the band knocks it out of the park! Great song,great solo…well done!
ROCK N ROLL-Bonham leads the charge just like his dad did on the Zep Classic and these guys send everyone home happy! They rock the song like there’s no tomorrow! Great endimg as well. Hagar like he has always done as the band is walloping out a final grande finale introduces everyone and tells the crowd he’s “At Your Service!” Great end to a great disc!
DREAMS – oh wait not just wait Vic and Sam do an acoustic version of Dreams and why not change it up! Dreams in 1986 Sam sang pretty high so why not mix it up for the dudes 67-year-old throat! Cool and well done!
IN CONCLUSION-as far as live albums go this one has to be one of the funnest live albums of just pals getting together and rocking it out! These guys play the Zep tunes very well but loose and Jason Bonham keeps the train on the tracks! Vic Johnson has been Sams lead guitarist since 1996 and he knows his spot. Play the tunes and keep them in check to the originals but add some of your own flair and by golly he does! I mean the cat is playing Zep and Halen no mean feat but he’s the MVP here folks! Mikey Anthony like I said Welcome back! It’s good to hear those backing vocals and bassing again!
Sam is about fun! He has no worries! He just enjoys life and he wants you to know that! He sings great and plays a good guitar still! It’s like he’s 27 years old! The dude can sing no doubt …….I mean how many guys can say “PoundCake” and you believe it! Sam can!
Now the comparison to the recently released Van Halen live at the Tokyo Dome will be asked and my verdict is…..
The VH Live album I love and some day I will tackle it all here for ya’s! Tokyo Dome has songs from the 7 studio albums Dave recorded with Van Halen. See I grew up to all those songs(especially the first 6 VH albums)and to hear them live now recorded and with no fixer ups In the studio is awesome and I love Wolfies Bassing on it! I have no probs with that or his backing vocals for that matter!
The Circles album is a live album of genuine fun and it comes across in the playing and between song banter that Sam lays down with his band mates and crowd. I mean we all know as VH fans the deal with the VH Bros and Dave(they not likey each other!) . With Sams bands it’s just friends hanging out and playing music and that as well totally comes across. In other words I got sonically the……..
BEST OF BOTH WORLDS! (With both of these Live albums!)
Ha…..that was kinda pathetic but that’s all I got!
Check out this album folks!