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Foo Fighters Revisited

Alexandra Kilpatrick | Wednesday, April 8, 2009

In 1995, no one thought that anything more than a short-lived hype would come of Foo Fighters, the solo music project newly formed by Dave Grohl, the goofy looking kid in the background of all of Nirvana’s band pictures. The former Nirvana drummer originally released 1995’s “Foo Fighters” as a demo, recording the vocals and nearly all of the instrumental parts by himself.Grohl did not form a band until after the debut album’s completion, recruiting bassist Nate Mendel, guitarist Pat Smear and drummer William Goldsmith. Nonetheless, the album produced the three hit singles “This Is a Call,” “I’ll Stick Around” and “Big Me,” and was nominated for Best Alternative Music Album at the 1996 Grammy Awards.However, the 1997 sophomore album “The Colour and the Shape” was the LP that truly solidified Foo Fighters as a band. Although Grohl still performed vocals and guitar as well as drums on many of the songs, the album was a debut for the new members.Grohl loosely conceived “The Colour and the Shape” as a concept album signifying the beginning and end of a relationship. The first track, “Doll,” features soft vocals and clearly indicates the beginning of the relationship with the lyrics, “You know in all the time that we’ve shared / I’ve never been so scared.” The album moves on to “Monkey Wrench,” which deals with being trapped in an unsavory relationship and features a fast-paced guitar riff, a screamy bridge and blunt, straightforward lyrics: “Don’t want to be your monkey wrench / One more indecent accident / I’d rather leave than suffer this / I’ll never be your monkey wrench.””Hey, Johnny Park!” is an excellent example of the Foo Fighters’ tendency to use the Pixies’ and Nirvana’s technique of switching between quiet verses and a loud chorus. Grohl said in a 1997 “Guitar World” article that this technique was influenced by the members of Nirvana “liking the Knack, Bay City Rollers, Beatles, and ABBA as much as we liked Flipper and Black Flag, I suppose.”Sticking with the album’s relationship concept, Grohl wrote “Up in Arms,” a pop-sounding love song about his wife, Jennifer Youngblood. The song features soft romantic vocals at the beginning, leading into the loud, fast-paced reprise of an honest chorus, “I was the one who left you / Always coming back I cannot forget you girl / Now I am up in arms again.”A personal favorite, “My Hero,” features recognizable percussion and guitar riffs, as well as loud, impassioned vocals and lyrics about everyday heroes, “There goes my hero / Watch him as he goes / There goes my hero / He’s ordinary.” According to Foo Archive, Grohl claimed, “That’s my way of saying that when I was young, I didn’t have big rock heroes, I didn’t want to grow up and be some big sporting hero. My heroes were ordinary people and the people that I have a lot of respect for are just solid everyday people – people you can rely on.””See You” follows as a kitschy, sarcastic pop song, signifying the resentment in the relationship. As with “Up in Arms”, the ballad “February Stars” features soft-spoken lyrics building into final loud vocals with lyrics representing a relationship hanging on by a thread: “February stars / Floating in the dark / Temporary scars / February stars.”In “Everlong,” Grohl introduces a new wave drum beat, well-placed electric guitar riffs and impassioned emotion in the same contrasting loud-soft vocals and lyrics, “And I wonder / When I sing along with you / If everything could ever feel this real forever / If anything could ever feel this good again.” The song follows with a soft atmospheric ballad, “Walking After You,” which, according to Grohl in Foo Archive, is “an emotional, sappy song about getting dumped,” signifying the end of the relationship.The LP features bonus tracks in the extended edition, including four covers: Killing Joke’s “Requiem,” Vanity 6’s “Drive Me Wild,” Gary Numan’s “Down in the Park,” and Gerry Rafferty’s “Baker Street.” The Seattle-based band’s cover of “Baker Street” replaces the famous saxophone solo with a guitar solo that surprisingly does justice to the song.The Foo Fighters are still one of the most well-respected alternative rock bands in the music industry, and they have continued to rise to success with such singles as “Times Like These,” “Best of You,” and “The Pretender.” There is no doubt that Grohl and company will “stick around” for a long time.