On Second Thought: Sammy Hagar – Nine on a Ten Scale (1976)

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Too many egos can indeed spoil the soup, as was the sad case of Montrose.

Christened after guitar wizard Ronnie Montrose, the San Francisco based band cut a pair piping hot albums, Montrose and Paper Money that blazed new trails in the halls of hard-rocking razamatazz. Sounding like a microwaved mosiac of Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple, laced with steroids, the group quickly gained a dedicated following. But lead singer Sammy Hagar and Captain Montrose struggled to maintain a peaceful existence, and by 1975, the frontman with a big personality departed the fold. Although Montrose plugged on, the magic and momentum was pretty much lost.

Ever the trooper, Sammy headed down the solo road, and although later efforts were responsible for granting him phenomenal fame, his debut album Nine on a Ten Scale (Capitol Records) tends to be my favorite of the pack.

A progressive space-age feel washes over the Rush-styled “Silver Lights,” chugging rhythms, dripping with heaviness and hunger, set “Urban Guerilla” aflame, and “Confession (Please Come Back)” blends hook happy power pop with preening rock god bravado. The Beatles, the Rolling Stones and Woodstock are namechecked in the boogie flavored “Keep On Rockin,'” not to mention the core riff of “Jumping Jack Flash” and a soulful chorus of elated female harmonies, while a cover of Van Morrison’s “Flamingos Fly” foreshadows Sammy’s entry into the radio-ready sweepstakes with its clean and polished production thrills.

Sammy’s cocky and powerful vocals are right on the grid, and the choice of the material on the disc can’t be faulted. Definitely an early example of pop metal, Nine on a Ten Scale pays respect to the cruising and boozing brigade as well as those who prefer nice melodies and a certain sense of a comfort zone.

Grafted of concrete arrangements and energetic moves from top to bottom, the album continually pronounces Sammy’s solid and self-reliant skills that connect on a series of levels. Killer guitars and superb drumming also make the grade.

Not only did the firecracker of a performer go on to have an incredibly successful solo career, but he further wound up joining Van Halen and currently plays with the supergroup Chickenfoot. There is no denying Sammy Hagar is the ultimate rock star and relishes the role.

As far as rating this solo debut, I give it ten on a ten scale!

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Beverly Paterson

Beverly Paterson

Beverly Paterson was born the day Ben E. King hit No. 4 with "Stand By Me" -- which is actually one of her favorite songs, especially John Lennon's version. She's contributed to Lance Monthly and Amplifier, and served as Rock Beat International's associate editor. Paterson has also published Inside Out, and Twist & Shake. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
Beverly Paterson
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