Foo Fighters - Skin And Bones
Whilst being a big fan of the Foo Fighters the news of them releasing an acoustic live album didn't particularly fill me with need to rush down the shops to buy it. In my mind the Foo's have always excelled at playing rock music well - cutting riffs, an enigmatic front man and music played at 11. What could be worse than stripping these songs bare and removing all that made them great in the first place? Dave Grohl hasn't won any prizes for his actual song writing, more for his ability to make everything rock... hard. But how wrong I was.
Whilst this isn't strictly speaking a full on unplugged album, it is stripped back to the bare minimum with violins and harmonica backing up the mainly acoustic guitars. It has the feel of the Nirvana "Unplugged" event even down to the appearance of Pat Smear on guitar duties. Where the Nirvana album ended up excelling was with the covers, here though the full set is based on the Foo Fighters back catalogue from the opening track Razor, from last years In Your Honor, to Everlong, from the brilliant The Colour And The Shape.
What really strikes you about this album, when it works, is how good the songs sound stripped back like this. Razor and Over And Out don't lose any of their menace being toned down - the acoustic guitars still sound sinister and Grohl's voice has never sounded so good, without the vocals being yelled it reveals a range that was previously ignored. There are also some songs that lend themselves easily to this approach, Next Year sounds specially written for the acoustic guitars and semi-orchestral backing.
However, it doesn't always work. Everlong could, quite possibly, be the best song Grohl has ever penned, but in this back-to-basics sound it loses some of its aggression and poise. The chiming guitars and snarled vocals, spat out in a stream of anger on the original, just doesn't lend themselves to the quiet approach. The song does build to its epic conclusion eventually, but it's magic and mystique have been destroyed already. Times Like These also sounds a little drab and cold with its pedestrian makeover, with the energy that carries the original missing it comes across like some sub-Coldplay nonsense, which is a shame.
This was an ambitious project for a rock act and one that they should be congratulated on. Something that could have come across poorly actually works, for most of the time, and whilst I hope that this doesn't indicate a new direction for the Foo Fighters, it certainly makes for a good listen on these cold Autumnal nights.
Last updated: 19/04/2018 03:53:42