Sammy Hagar Livin' It Up Rhino / Cabo Wabo Music
R2 74097
Produced By: Bob Daspit

Running Time: 41.15

Release Date: Out Now


Musical Style: Melodic Rock / Country Rock

Links: Red Rocker
Songs: 86%
Sound: 92%
Sammy Hagar has always followed his heart and once again on Livin' It Up he proves to be his own man and changes things in a way that not everyone is going to get or accept.
I expect very mixed reviews for this record from the press and fans alike, as you are either going to get it, or you ain't. I get it. Totally.
Even before talking to Sammy about this album, I could hear the conviction and passion behind it. After speaking with the Red Rocker, I can attest to his passion, comfort and total self belief in what he is doing.
In recent years Sammy's live shows and his life in general have drifted towards embracing the Mexican way sun, surf, beach and tequila. Sammy has two of his own theme bars, his own exclusive tequila beverage and a growing legion of fans that are with him all the way.
The only thing missing was to take this lifestyle theme into an actual record. Livin' It Up is now documented proof of the change within Sammy Hagar. He's as happy as a pig in shit and he wants to tell the whole world.
He does so with a thoroughly infectious record that you really just can't help but like.
Unfortunately some fans are just not going to be able to get past the change in musical direction and in some ways this record hands Sammy's critics the ammunition they have been looking for.
I don't think Sammy's lyrical style has changed too much here, but there are more obvious lifestyle references dotted throughout the record, to the point where this could be considered a concept record about embracing everything that is good within Sammy's life.
There is a noticeable country twang through the record that has and will leave some scratching their heads, including a couple of full on country tunes and the majority of the album is driven by an authentic earthy and acoustic vibe.
Take the style aside and you are able to analyze the performance. And that's where Sammy gets major credit. You can really hear the energy and the electricity within this record. Producer Bob Daspit has captured the band in a raw, live atmosphere, but at the same time has ensured that the record has a crisp, sharp feel that Sammy's recent solo recordings have missed.
The record sounds perfect and Sammy's individual performance is one I would rate among his best.
His voice has seldom sounded so in shape - smooth and comfortable, yet also delivering that trademark rasp and the odd scream like it was recorded 20 years ago.
Track By Track:
Opening the album is the infectious groove of Sam I Am, which frames the album perfectly from the outset. A little slide guitar, a little twang and a classic Hagar vocal drive a catchy as hell hook.
Living On A Coastline slows things down with a beach boogie vibe. A relaxed happy lyric is delivered with conviction by Hagar. The feel good harmonies and a catchy chorus suck you in. The opening two tracks are vital to the message being delivered here and they leave you with no doubt where this album is going.
I imagine some folks might stop right here, but you will be missing some fine music if you do so.
Mexico is a more rocking track, driven by a grittier lead guitar and some Santana like drum rhythms, especially later in the song.
The breezy mid tempo rockers The Way We Live and I Love This Bar compliment each other perfectly before the Kenny Chesney/Sammy Hagar written One Sip pays further tribute to the fine Mexican way.
Making a resprise appearance is Halfway To Memphis (from Not 4 Sale), this time easily the most country themed track of the album, complete with slide guitar, that distinctive twang and a laid back acoustic delivery.
There are a few covers once again on Livin' It Up. I Love This Bar covers the Toby Keith hit but may as well have been written by Hagar himself and Rainy Day Women covers the Bob Dylan classic once again more or less true to Hagar's lifestyle philosophy and is here perfectly adapted to the feel of this record.
Then there is Hagar's adoption of the Staple Sister's classic Let Me Take You There a the track you have already heard and in its position gives the album a nice uptempo lift.
Sailin is a relaxed and happy acoustic pop song, not quite a ballad and not quite a country tune. It features a sweet vocal and more feel good vibes. Someday is a short acoustic country ballad that closes out the album and the story contained in relaxed fashion.
The Bottom Line
As I said earlier, you just can't help but like this record or at least, I can't help it! It is not to be taken seriously at all and doing so will reduce your appreciation. This is a record to be cranked loud while cruising in the car or sitting outside in the sun next to the BBQ. It is the perfect summer drinking record.
Those looking for a glimpse of the lyrically more intense Sammy, evident on Marching To Mars or with Van Halen might have to rely on those records for your fix.
Recent Discography / Previously Reviewed
Marching To Mars
Red Voodoo
Ten 13
Not For Sale
Essential Red Collection
Livin' It Up

Line Up:
Sammy Hagar: Vocals, Guitars
Victor Johnson: Guitar
David Lauser: Drums
Mona: Bass

Essential For Fans Of:
Sammy & The Wabos
Kenny Chesney / Rockin' Country
Track Listing
Sam I Am *
Living On A Coastline *
The Way We Live *
I Love This Bar *
One Sip
Rainy Day Women
Halfway To Memphis
Sailin *
Let Me Take You There
Some Day

--*Best Tracks

19/04/07: Jeff -
Rating: 95
A slight departure from the usual sound of the Red Rocker, but this album seems to be his most personal. I would have preferred more rockers, but this strikes me more like a concept album so I'm not disappointed too much.

29/11/06: gravy -
Rating: 100
My rating says it all.

21/11/06: Arney -
Rating: 92
Love this release by Sammy. Sure its not the heaviest thing his done but it does contain well written catchy as hell songs that make you want to sing along. Talk about a feel good album.

10/11/06: Nicodim -
Rating: 90
Another great work from Sammy! He as great as he must be. He's never stop and always go forward. But his music still full of magic and his voice is full of emotions. It's a great positive CD and the atmosphere of the album makes me feel much better when I listenin' 2 it. Just like the troubles go away - it's a party time, so let's have fun! ))

10/11/06: Laurent -
Rating: 90
Sammy is the only reason I ever got into Van Halen. He's a songwriter and they badly needed it in my humble opinion. The guy is an amazing rock singer and I like his attitude. This record is slightly different as it includes some nice country influences. This is a great "put a huge smile on your face" type of records. It is more varied than his previous solo stuff - except Marching To Mars which to me is his musical masterpiece - and just by looking at the artwork you know what you're gonna get. And the guy is one of the best live rock singer I've ever heard. Great album.

25/10/03: Adam Champ -
Rating: 90
LOVE SAMMY LIVE. SEE HIM IN CABO! GREAT STUFF. However, the only complaint I have on this is I wish groups would put a non-cut concert on CD. No Breaks. The Crowd is a big part of a live CD. The best one lately is Iron Maiden in Rio....It is like you are there in the crowd. I was hoping Sammy's live CD would be the same. Oh well!

12/09/03: Adam -
Rating: 90
This is a CD for the HAGAR collector. If you saw him live or if you live in St. Louis this is a GREAT souvenier. If you wanna buy a Sammy CD, pick up his last one NOT FOR SALE. That was an AMAZING CD!!

12/06/03: Rob -
Rating: 95
I agree with future villian. There are a few older tracks I would have liked to hear but as Sammy states in the sleeve notes he hopes to release an extended version possibly a three-cd set. This will hopefully happen and satisfy everyones favourite choices.

12/06/03: FutureVillian - FUTUREVILLIAN2002@YAHOO.COM
Rating: 95
This album rocks!!! I've seen Sammy may times pre, during and post Van Halen and this live album captures the energy of a Sammy show. The mix may not be perfect but that the way Sammy wanted it. if you close your eyes while listening to this cd you feel like you are on behind the stage riser with Sammy and the Wabo's. The only thing missing to get the true feel is the waitress pouring you a Waborita during "Mas Tequila" The only draw back is that it is heavy on Van Hagar tunes. Sammy has such a large catalog of solo material there were many live Gems that were not included such as "I'll Fall in Love Again".

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