Who says classic rock is dead? Sammy Hagar and his circle of friends would completely disagree. As a rock and roll vocalist and songwriter who defines the entire concept of classic rock and roll, Sammy Hagar is back once again with the debut studio album of his newest band The Circle. It’s not the band’s first album release; they’ve already released a live album, but it is the first studio album of original material. The album entitled Space Between was released on May 10, 2019. For the past few months Sammy Hagar fans have been listening to a few pre-release tracks such as “Trust Fun Baby,” and “Can’t Hang.” However, the wait is over as the album is now in the stores and online. As we have done ever since we first discovered Sammy Hagar opening for Boston in 1977, we purchased the record (CD) the day it was released. As usual Sammy Hagar does not disappoint.
The album Is a throwback to the classic rock era of the 1970s and even early 80s when albums usually contained between seven to ten songs. Before the CD era, the technology of vinyl would not allow more than 35 to 45 minutes of music before the sound quality started to deteriorate because of thinning grooves. The limited amount of time allowed by vinyl records allocated for a more cohesive sound to the recording in terms of musical and lyrical concepts fitting together as one. This seem to be the goal of Sammy Hagar in delivering the album Space Between.
The CD is filled with 10 songs. The album’s opening number “The Devil Came To Philly,” is basically the same song as the album’s final track “Hey Hey (Without Greed)” It’s a song structured as a big time stadium chanting rock and roll piece of music with a simple chorus that crowds could easily sing along too. The song’s verse and feel is a little reminiscent of Queen’s “Fat Bottom Girls.” Nonetheless it’s a great opening track and in the way both songs book end the album defines the concept album style Sammy Hagar was aiming for.
There are many outstanding rock and roll tracks on the album. Some of our choice favorites were the dark sounding heavy metal style song “Free Man,” the “Mony Mony,” feel of the song Bottom Line, the “Eagles Fly,” styled song “Wide Open Spaces.,” the 80s Sammy Hagar sounding track “Affirmation,” and of course the album’s first single “Trust Fund Baby.” The latter being one of the most enjoyable classic rock sounding tracks released by any rock and roller in past ten years. Classic rock fans may become confused when they see that the song list Ronnie Montrose as a co-writer on the track. Sammy Hagar explained that he gave his ex 1970s band leader credit for the track because he stole some licks from an old Montrose song. Hagar originally just planned on taking credit for the song because Montrose had not given Sammy Hagar credit for a song he wrote on an old Montrose album. It was an old feud that ended with the passing of Ronnie Montrose. Nonetheless, Hagar changed his mind and credited Ronnie Montrose on the new record. Probably a good idea since the opening lick to “Trust Fund Baby,” is pretty much pulled straight of the opening riff to Montrose’s “I Got The Fire.” Just take a listen.
“Trust Fund Baby,” also gives credit to Led Zeppelin’s John Bonham as a co-writer since the song also developed out of jam session Sammy Hagar was having playing along to a John Bonham drum track. Sammy Hagar had originally planned to record the song using the John Bonham drum track, but Jason Bonham convinced Sammy Hagar to let himself record the drums on the record.
The Circle features Sammy Hagar on lead vocals, Michael Anthony on bass, Jason Bonham on drums and Vic Johnson on guitar. The band was first formed in 2014 as a new supergroup. The band toured together performing hits from Sammy Hagar solo career, his early days with Montrose, and the music he wrote while he was in Van Halen. The band also did Led Zeppelin songs because of Jason Bonham’s role in the band. The group’s live album and shows were simply killer. There is probably nobody else in the world that could sing Led Zeppelin songs and pull it off with the exception of Ann Wilson like Sammy Hagar did. Furthermore , no other drummer could share that Led Zeppelin drum chair with the exception of John Bonham’s son Jason Bonham.
Sammy Hagar is that rare rock and roll singer who has managed to be incredibly successful as both a solo artist and a member of a band. From his early days with Montrose, throughout his solo career on to Van Halen, Chickenfoot and now Circle, Sammy Hagar has time and time again continued to release great music.
Space Between sounds like a band album. The Chickenfoot records were great, but one could hear the distinct personalities of Sammy and Satriani throughout the records. On Circle’s Space Between, the band’s sounds as one unit. Hopefully this group will stick together for a while, at least while we are all still breathing.