Post Van Halen, Sammy Hagar thought long and deep about his future. After (arguably) being unceremoniously kicked out of Van Halen, he was well prepared to take some time off. However, other circumstances changed that.
Upon the encouragement of his friends, he got back into making music and decided to work harder than ever on resuming his solo career. He did this marvellously, and this, his first post Van Halen album, is definitely a listen. With a new backing band and featuring Bootsy Collins playing bass on some of the songs, it’s killer. Let’s take a listen to this album.
We begin with the acoustic blues of Little White Lie. It’s a great return to the solo material of Sammy Hagar, which in some ways, exceeds Van Hagar. It’s a great song which crashes into a loud romping stomp with loud and heavy guitars. The singing here is fantastic, especially considering that this dude was in his forties at the time. Epic and a great listen.
Following this is the subtle Salvation On Sand Hill. With great-sounding hi-hats and cymbals, to begin with, it evolves into a very quiet piece of guitar work and talking about the human senses, the Red Rocker was still very capable of making great songs. It crashes into a loud rock piece comparing experiences to heaven and hell, it does sound really intense. Great stuff here. Sammy Hagar sings from a deep place, he sounds rather aggressive here. Good job mate. It’s almost Nirvana-ish in its progression but is uniquely Sammy Hagar here.
Who Has The Right? begins with melodic piano. Sammy Hagar delivers “a message from the heart” here, as he sings. He had seemingly turned over a new leaf since 1996 and was able to feel that, despite the turbulence of the Van Halen years, he still had a purpose and driving vision in his life. The overdriven guitars fit nicely hear. Could you ever imagine any songs like this being put on Van Halen’s Balance, for example? No. This is great and moving music here, even though this track is not a single. Wow!
Would You Do It For Free? is funkalicious. Sammy Hagar asks this question in this song, which is a sort of question about money, women and life. Maybe it’s a rhetorical question, but still, it is a good listen. The guitars and funked-up basslines intertwine, making this an interesting listen. There is no five-finger tapping here in the guitar playing, here the Red Rocker had gone back to his solo career, and seemingly, not looking back at the past, either.
The next song begins with some gentle acoustic guitar fingerpicking. Leaving The Warmth Of The Womb is likely about the birth of his daughter, Kama, who arrived in early 1996. This album sure has quiet/loud dynamics that are effective. It doesn’t have Grunge miserablism about it though. But, if anything, this is one of the most aggressive albums from Sammy Hagar to date. It sounds like a direct stab at the Van Halen brothers but could be otherwise. It’s enjoyable though. The guitar solo here is great.
After that, Kama arrives. It’s a tender song about the birth of his first daughter. Sammy Hagar, despite being a successful rock musician, generally puts his family first. This is proof of it. Seems a little soppy, but still it is listenable. A nice effort by the Red Rocker. Once again, it’s incredibly beautiful for a song. The guitar solo sounds like Slash is playing here, but it’s not. Good stuff.
On The Other Hand starts off with some awesome percussion sounds and acoustic guitar. It’s blues/rock which sounds great. There is some juicy slide guitar in here as well and compares money-loving to devilish concepts. It goes bang into a loud rock number, where Sammy Hagar paces through. It’s nice and short, a good quick song.
Both Sides Now is another personal piece with bongos and other great guitar-based instrumentation. This album is really good, beats any contemporary music of today. Sadly, rock music is largely dead in terms of radio play these days. But hey, at least we can still hear great music on this underrated album. A nice song. There is an air of melancholy on this song, and the backing vocals are really good too. Another great song from the Red/9 rockstar.
After that, we have a stoner anthem. The Yogi’s So High (I’m Stoned) is likely inspired by a stoned jam session that Sammy Hagar had with his fellow musicians. It’s a chill-out tune for that purpose and talks about semi-religious concepts at hand. The lyrics here are really psychedelic. Likely not the best song on this album, but still, it’s okay. It does rival the Amsterdam song on Van Halen’s Balance. The guitar solo here is out of this world.
The following song, Amnesty Is Granted was written in the midst of issues between Sammy Hagar and his first wife. It talks in retrospect about the issues that lovers can encounter, and does this articulately. It may have also been inspired by issues between Van Halen and himself. Amnesty Is Granted indeed. It’s a moving piece, and worth a listen.
Marching To Mars is the title track and took many months to perfect the recording of. Still, it is the best of this album and kicks ass. Imagine yourself in a bar in a paradise spot with this tune banging. The guitar riff here is addictive, and the whole song is a delight to listen to. If you want to hear just one post Van Hagar song from the Red Rocker, hear this one. It’s a great effort.
All in all, this album is a very enjoyable listen. In addition, it is very underrated as well. For those who want to hear some good rock music or if you know anything about Van Halen, give this a listen and enjoy. It’s very consistent.