Fans of this Seattle-based rock band adore the Foo Fighters for their heavily distorted guitars, earworm riffs, aggressive drum beats, and the straightforward vocals of frontman and guitarist Dave Grohl. However, with their latest release “Hail Satin”, under the playful name Dee Gees, the band offers four rock covers of classic Bee Gees songs. The album also features a cover of Andy Gibb’s “Shadow Dancing” and five live versions of songs from the Foo Fighters’ latest album “Medicine at Midnight”.
As you might expect, a huge difference between the Bee Gees originals and these covers is a bigger guitar line. In keeping with the Afro-centric disco genre, in the songs of the Bee Gees the guitar is generally oriented more towards rhythm and texture in the background (apart from some solos). The Foo Fighters, however, use a much brighter, distorted guitar sound throughout the songs, clearly exemplified in the opening track “You Should be Dancing”.
In the verses, the Foos use a relatively smooth and funky guitar line that is closer to the feel of the original song. Yet in the chorus a heavy, distorted guitar comes into play, bringing an arena rock guitar sound to a disco song. In “Shadow Dancing”, Andy Gibb’s original version uses a warm, clean guitar sound and orchestral strings, while the Foo Fighters use a brightly-toned electric guitar. Disco fans might prefer the Andy Gibb version for its warmer, fuller sound, but the cover can certainly be grooved.
Perhaps the most impressive musicality of this album is Grohl’s falsetto in the disco sleeves. Grohl nails the high, nasal tone used in every disco song on the album. This is impressive due to the low register of most male singers, but not surprising given Grohl’s legendary talent.
After the disco songs, the second half of the album returns to rock at full force with the live versions of the songs from “Medicine at Midnight”. Although none of the songs rival the greatest hits of the Foo Fighters, like “Everlong” or “The Pretender”, they are still worth listening to.
In “Shame Shame” a fun beat meets a catchy riff to create a song that’s easy to remember. With “Waiting on a War”, Grohl adds a personal song to the album with a serious undertone. This is the experience of Grohl who grew up during the paranoia of the 80s Cold War and just wanted to be a loving child in a world of fear. Grohl sings: “I’m waiting for a war / since I was a little boy with a toy gun / is there more than that? While the lyrics aren’t particularly obscure, they get the point across with a song that reinforces the aggression and creates the angst Grohl felt as a child.
The most notable of the live releases is the album’s last song, “Cloudspotter”. As the title suggests, the song is about a pessimist, or someone looking for clouds on a beautiful day. Lyrically, Grohl uses more poetic metaphors than “Waiting on a War”. Grohl belt “Swing, swing guillotine queen / cut me back to size” in a strong chorus. Combined with the headbanger groove and some metal-like riffs, “Cloudspotter” is a great song for any hard rock fan.
In general, “Hail Satin” is not one of Foo’s best albums. Rockified disco is definitely fun and entertaining to listen to; although it is not the same as listening to the classics. The Foo Fighters originals on the album aren’t the most memorable – with “Cloudspotter” being an exception. However, the album as a whole will still have you grooving at the start and headbanging at the end and is fun listening for rock fans.