Legendary multi-platinum rockers FOGHAT will release their long-awaited 17th studio album, “Sonic Mojo” — their first in seven years — on November 10 via the band’s label, Foghat Records, which is distributed by Select-O-Hits (part of the Sun Records family). The official music video for the LP’s first single, “Drivin’ On” — co-written by the late Kim Simmonds from SAVOY BROWN — can be seen below.
“Sonic Mojo” will be available as a single CD with 12-tracks and a six-page gatefold cover, as well as an 11-track, limited-edition 180-gram, purple neon vinyl.
Two more songs will be released in the coming months: “She’s A Little Bit Of Everything” (also co-written by Simmonds) on September 23, and “I Don’t Appreciate You”, which was written by the four FOGHAT members, on October 20.
From the opening notes of their 1972 self-titled classic to their bombastic multi-platinum gem “Foghat Live”, to 2016’s slide guitar-soaked “Under The Influence” and right on through to “Sonic Mojo”, FOGHAT has always been about the music. Music played loud. Music played live and music played that makes you want to move.
On “Sonic Mojo”, founding member, drummer and leader of the pack Roger Earl is joined by stalwart guitarist, engineer and co-producer Bryan Bassett (WILD CHERRY, MOLLY HATCHET),fun-loving, low-end thumper, fan favorite bassist Rodney O’Quinn (PAT TRAVERS BAND),and on lead vocals and guitar, Scott Holt (Buddy Guy) who has been the singer/guitarist of the band’s recent side project EARL & THE AGITATORS since 2015. In typical FOGHAT fashion, there are a few surprises included on the album as well.
Three songs on “Sonic Mojo” have special meaning for Roger Earl, as they were co-written by Simmonds, the man who gave Roger his first break back in 1967 as a member of SAVOY BROWN. Sadly, shortly after writing these songs, Kim passed away.
The first of the three Simmonds co-writes, “Drivin’ On”, is the debut single from “Sonic Mojo”. Vocalist/guitarist Scott Holt smiles as he proudly sums up what this bluesy rocker means to the band: “A song like ‘Drivin’ On’ celebrates the swamp funk blues of Slim Harpo and the cosmic boogie of John Lee Hooker.” Part blues, part ZZ TOP and part FOGHAT this tune is destined to become a live fan favorite.
“She’s A Little Bit Of Everything” (also co-written by Simmonds),just like FOGHAT‘s classic “Slow Ride” that starts off with nothing but a drumbeat, followed by fuzzy guitar and, just like that famous song, this one also celebrates woman, albeit in a totally classier way. The third Simmonds co-write is the most emotional of bunch. “Time Slips Away” penned when Kim was terminally ill, delivers a strong message that is both beautiful and emotional.
Kim isn’t the only surprise on “Sonic Mojo”, however. Roger has a famous brother named Colin Earl, most known for the song “In The Summertime” by MUNGO JERRY. Together, the two brothers and the rest of the band created the most unique tune on the album titled “Wish I’d A Been There”. The song is an ode to country music legend Hank Williams.
FOGHAT does country?
Well…sort of, but not really. This fun song shows that this band, even after 50-plus years of making music, isn’t afraid of trying something new. And…like everything else they’ve tried, they do it well.
“Sonic Mojo” also sees FOGHAT tip their hat to great artists that came before them, as well as giving plenty of winks and nods from the current lineup. While there are songs on the album written by Willie Dixon (“Let Me Love You Baby”),B.B. King (“She’s Dynamite”) and Chuck Berry (“Promised Land”),FOGHAT shows they can still boogie with the best of them.
Elder statesmen, and band leader, Roger Earl has played with enough of the greats to know when he’s in good company. “I love playing and working with this band,” he says. “During my almost-60-year music career, I have had the honor of playing with some really great musicians. Lonesome Dave, Rod Price, Craig MacGregor, Erik Cartwright, Nick Jameson, Tony Stevens and Jeff Howell, to name some that have graced this band. Many have sadly passed, some have retired or moved on, but I have to say that the current lineup has been one of the most inspirational for me, personally. Writing with Scott and Bryan has come easy. Words and ideas just seem to fall out at any time and another song is in the works. And Rodney‘s input and bass playing has been invaluable. We are a band in every sense of the word.”
Adds Scott Holt: “I feel like ‘Sonic Mojo’ is a perfect addition to the FOGHAT cannon. For over 50 years, this band has been a celebration of the varied art forms and genres that were created in this country. The pillars of blues, country, soul, R&B and jazz are woven into the fabric of this band at the molecular level. ‘Sonic Mojo’ is a rock and roll audio mojo hand. We convened our spirits and went down to the crossroads at midnight and put some Mississippi dirt, black cat bones, and moonlight into the bag, Kim Simmonds donated some soul, the spirit of Dave, Rod and Craig were the essence that created the supreme funk that is the finished product. A soulful expression, an offering at the altar of rock and roll.”
“Making a record is an emotionally and physically draining experience,” Holt continues. “As an artist you disengage every other part of your being and focus on the art…the task at hand. You don’t record like it’s going to live forever, but you know it’s going to live forever. You forget to eat, to drink, you don’t sleep or rest until you’ve got your part correct, and then you rethink it until it’s pronounced ‘finished.’ (You’ll always hear the part that you doubted, even after someone tells you that’s their favorite part.) This record was made under battle conditions. Roger was drumming with one good arm and would keep recording until the pain was too much…and then do another take.”
Roger Earl tore a tendon in his shoulder while shoveling snow after an intense blizzard at his New York home in January 2022. After spending most of that year looking for a qualified surgeon, while touring relentlessly and starting to record “Sonic Mojo”, he finally had surgery in December with a doctor who specialized in sports shoulder injuries. Because he knew he would not be able to play up to his standards for a while after surgery, Roger laid down all the drum tracks for “Sonic Mojo” in the couple of months before the surgery, enduring a lot of pain, but doing whatever it took to get the music right. Guess that’s why they call it the blues!
Formed in 1971 when Lonesome Dave Peverett and Roger Earl left the British blues-rock band SAVOY BROWN, FOGHAT has earned eight gold records, one platinum record and one double-platinum record. They continue to release new music every few years, and they’ve never stopped touring and recording, although there have been several ups and downs and changes over the years. They sadly lost Lonesome Dave Peverett in 2000, Rod Price in 2005, and Craig MacGregor in 2018, but Roger Earl keeps banging and kicking to keep FOGHAT‘s musical legacy going.
“Sonic Mojo” track listing:
01. She’s A Little Bit Of Everything (Simmonds/R. Earl/Bassett/Holt/O’Quinn)
02. I Don’t Appreciate You (R. Earl/Holt/Bassett/O’Quinn)
03. Mean Woman Blues (Claude DeMetrius)
04. Drivin’ On (Simmonds/R. Earl/Bassett/Holt/O’Quinn)
05. Let Me Love You Baby (Willie Dixon)
06. How Many More Years (Chester Burnett)
07. Song For Life (Rodney J. Crowell)
08. Wish I’d A Been There (C. Earl/R. Earl/Bassett/Holt/O’Quinn)
09. Time Slips Away (Simmonds/R. Earl/Bassett/Holt/O’Quinn)
10. Black Days & Blue Nights (R. Earl/Holt/Bassett/O’Quinn)
11. She’s Dynamite (B. King Riley — B.B. King)
12. Promised Land (Chuck Berry)
Photo credit: Jake Coughlin (courtesy of ABC Public Relations)
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