One of Sammy Hagar's rawest recordings, Musical Chairs features some guitars that are a treat for listeners fond of the much tougher, uncompromising music that Hagar used throughout the '70s to build one of the largest followings for an American hard rock solo artist. With a strong backing lineup that included former Montrose alum Denny Carmassi (drums), Bill Church (bass), and Alan Fitzgerald (keys), Hagar's music comes off lean and mean. Thanks especially to Hagar himself and longtime musical associate Gary Pihl, the riffing on Musical Chairs separates the recording from many hard rock issues of the day. Aggressive numbers like "Turn up the Music" and "Straight From the Hip Kid" do the most sonic damage on this classic red-rocker offering. When Hagar tries to deal with broader lyrical material, as on "Crack in the World," he exposes what would later become a bit of an Achilles heal. While not as bad as the occasionally awkward, jingo-istic, or just plain goofy quasi-political commentary featured most prominently on some of the singer's '80s recordings, "Crack in the World" demonstrates Hagar's tendency to reach for lyrical concepts that extend beyond his good-time rock specialty. Fortunately, Hagar sticks to the formula during most of Musical Chairs, making it an early career highlight for the singer/guitarist. ~ Vincent Jeffries
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