Foghat, Fool For The City

I wish this album were as original as the cover, with skinbanger Roger Earl in the middle of a New York street calmly fishing in a manhole to the great perplexity of passers-by. And in fairness Foghat has never really aspired towards advancing the art of music; they have only aspired to giving you solid rock'n'roll with a side helping of blues, and that is that. This lesser but still important calling, to be sure, is clearly evident here -- especially "Save Your Loving (For Me)," which has as obvious a boogie bassline as anything they ever belted out in Detroit (never mind that Foghat are Brits) -- but it also means an album that, overall, is great in the background as generic rock but does not reward the close listener further. The canonical example might be "Terraplane Blues," so derivatively bluesy it has to throw a bit of arena rock veneer on to avoid terminal stylistic cliché, but even the toe-tapping boogie numbers suffer, especially "My Babe," which is one (admittedly slick) riff over and over burdened by lyrics of the same literary value as a Bazooka Joe comic. "Slow Ride," the showcase single, is so overplayed by classic rock stations these days that it undercuts its ability to save the rest of the album. Fortunately, the title track and the unpredictably bouncy "Drive Me Home" (sort of Elton John meets REO Speedwagon) make up for it as the other brighter spots in an album that's best described as competent. You won't go wrong with this album at your next party playing quietly away on loop in the corner of the room. And, damning with faint praise as that may be, I guess that's worth aspiring to as well. (Content: mild innuendo.)