Love Hz: Foo Fighters’ Medium Rare — Hot Rocketsauce for Yer Ears

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Foo Fighters: Medium RareOn Record Store Day, Foo Fighters put out a wonderful limited edition vinyl-only release called Medium Rare (a CD version sans one track was previously given to subscribers of Q Magazine). If the wiki is accurate, this appears to be a collection of b-sides and non-LP tracks the band has recorded over the years, supplemented by some brand new covers, including Thin Lizzy’s “Bad Reputation” and The Zombies’ “This Will Be Our Year,” as well as a kickin’ version of Mose Allison’s “Young Man Blues” in the Who-Live-At-Leeds arrangement.

This makes this record all the more remarkable because there is exceptional continuity between all these tracks. And there isn’t a single throwaway in the bunch, a testament to “the rock” that is Foo Fighters.

Simply put — and borrowing a phrase from Tenacious D — Foo Fighters: Medium Rare is “the rocketsauce that will keep you rockin’ all day and night.”

Honestly, I haven’t enjoyed an album of cover tunes by one artist or band so much since… hmm… lets see… there was Bowie’s Pinups… Lennon’s Rock and Roll… Macca’s Снова в СССР (the Russian Album)… Elvis Costello’s Kojak Variety… there have been so many, especially in these days of tribute albums and “songbook” collections. But how many of those records do you, dear reader, really go back to and listen to time and time again? I’ll go on record and say I haven’t heard an album of covers done with quite this much conviction and joy since Bowie’s Pinups, with Lennon’s R&R a distant second.


At first I was dubious. I mean… the record opens with “Band on the Run,” for gawdsakes, far from my favorite Macca solo tune (and I’m a massive Beatle fanatic). But, when that song kicks in, it kicks ass way way more than Macca’s original ever could dream of kicking. “I Feel Free”? Really? You gonna cover CREAM???? Really? Yup. And they knock it out of the park. Pulling off Prince’s “Darling Nikki” at the end of side 1 is an inspired choice that sets the stage for side two, which is nearly perfect. Its just… well… like “Nikki,” it grinddddddddddddssssss!

A good cover will either do proper homage to an artist or reinvent the track anew, and such is the latter case for Gary Numan’s “Down in the Park,” which is reinvented as a sort of Cure song circa The Top. Gerry Rafferty’s “Baker Street” is re-envisioned as a classic rock track that wouldn’t sound out of place on, say, a Foo Fighters album. Really, this is a pretty amazing track (check it out on the YouTube video below).

“Danny Says” is a loving tribute to Joey Ramone done in an all acoustic mode. Likewise, Hüsker Dü’s “Never Talking To You Again” is unplugged, sounding very much like Grant Hart plays it solo acoustic these days. “Gas Chamber,” an homage to The Angry Samoans, rocks a bit harder than the original, frankly. No disrespect to these punk legends.

But possibly the most stunning track however is their reading of Pink Floyd’s “Have a Cigar,” played as if Mountain or Deep Purple or Black Sabbath were playing it in their early 1970’s prime. Heck, it is even mixed to sound like one of those classic early ’70s proto-metal hard rock albums. West, Bruce and Laing comes to mind too. And Brian May is on this track!

Side two winds up with a loving cover of The Zombie’s “This Will Be Our Year” (from Odyssey and Oracle). It just works.

Like the whole album. Medium Rare just works. And rocks. Get it somewhere. Its going for a $30 to $60 on eBay and Amazon, but look around your favorite record store and you might find one at a more reasonable price. I got mine for $16 at Amoeba Records.

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