Foo Fighters - Greatest Hits

In September 1990, the teenaged drummer with US hardcore band Scream was left stranded in California when 'girlfriend trouble' caused the band's bass player to quit the tour and split the band. A phone call to Melvins guitarist Buzz Osborne put him in touch with the lanky bass player of a Sub-Pop act who were beginning to make waves - especially in Europe - but were currently without a permanent sticksman. That band were, of course, Nirvana and the drummer was David Eric Grohl. It was a call that would subsequently change not only Grohl's life, but one which continues to cause ripples throughout the industry to this day.

Even during his time in Nirvana, Grohl had built up a small catalogue of self-penned material and he put together Foo Fighters as a vehicle for his music within a year of Kurt Cobain's death. Their first post-Nirvana volley, 'This Is A Call' held promise, suggesting a knack for melodic power pop that didn't simply trade on past reputations - and it's earlier tracks like the Lemonheads-y 'Big Me' that fair best here. Sticking closely to the hits aspect of the title rather a definitive 'best of', this 16 track collection exhibits all that's good - and bad - about one of the biggest rock bands around.

Grohl's prowess behind the drum kit - and his general geniality - has given him the key to the palace of rock royalty. He's lived out all his boyhood dreams, playing with Brian May, Lemmy, David Bowie and, most recently, John Paul Jones in the eagerly anticipated Them Crooked Vultures. He's collaborated with the cream of today's alt. rock crowd: acts like Nine Inch Nails and Queens of the Stone Age have benefitted immeasurably from his input and, Teflon-coated, he even managed to work with Jack Black and leave with his reputation intact. You can make a case for him being The Most Important Man in Rock and not look too stupid, not least when you stop and consider the competition: Gerard Way? Pete Wentz? Jonathan Davis?

And yet too often Foo Fighters have been content to trade in generic, moderate rock largely indistinguishable from many of its peers. Too limp to be described as hardcore or metal, the Foos output tends to fall into that MOR mush that seems edgy to 13 year olds but is fine for playing in the car during the family's bi-annual car journey to the seaside. True, there are a couple of stone-cold classic examples of the format in 'Everlong' and the rasping 'Monkeywrench', but one's familiary with the likes of 'Breakout' or 'The Pretender' comes more from their ubiquity on MTV2 than their hooks or nagging riffs. So many of the other acts he's worked with are immediately recognisable, whether it be Queen or Queens ..., and yet Grohl has never quite been able to hit upon that same elusive quality that says "This is Foo Fighters, right?" when a track comes on the radio.

A tremendous talent, but whether this was ever the best outlet for those talents is up for debate.



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