Fans of this Seattle based rock band love the Foo Fighters for its heavily distorted guitars, earworm riffs, aggressive drum beats and the in-your-face vocals from frontman and guitarist Dave Grohl. Yet, with its latest release “Hail Satin,” under the playful name Dee Gees, the band brings four rockified covers of classic Bee Gees songs. The album also has a cover of Andy Gibb’s “Shadow Dancing” and five live versions of songs from the Foo Fighters last album “Medicine at Midnight.”
Predictably, a huge difference between the Bee Gees originals and these covers is a more prominent guitar line. Fitting with the Afro-centric disco genre, in Bee Gees songs the guitar is generally more geared towards rhythm and texture in the background (outside of some solos). The Foo Fighters, however, use a much brighter and distorted guitar tone throughout the songs, clearly shown in the opening track “You Should be Dancing.”
In the verses, the Foos use a relatively mellow and funky guitar line that is closer to the feel of the original song. Yet, in the choruses, a heavy and distorted guitar comes in, bringing an arena rock guitar sound to a disco song. In “Shadow Dancing,” the original Andy Gibb version uses a warm, clean guitar sound and orchestral strings, while the Foo Fighters use a bright toned electric guitar. Disco fans may prefer the Andy Gibb version for its warmer and more full sound, but the cover can certainly be grooved to.
Perhaps the most impressive musicianship on this album is Grohl’s falsetto in the disco covers. Grohl nails the high, nasally pitch used in each disco song on the album. This is impressive due to the lower register of most male vocalists, but not surprising given the legendary talent of Grohl.
After the disco songs, the second half of the album returns to full force rock with the live versions of songs from “Medicine at Midnight.” While none of the songs rival the Foo Fighters’ greatest hits, like “Everlong” or “The Pretender,” they are still worth a listen.
In “Shame Shame,” a fun beat meets a catchy riff creating a song that’s easy to get stuck in your head. With “Waiting on a War,” Grohl adds a personal song to the album with a serious undertone. It is about Grohl’s experience growing up during the Cold War paranoia of the 80s and simply wanting to be a loving child in a world of fear. Grohl sings, “I’ve been waiting on a war / since I was a little boy with a toy gun / is there more to this than that?” While the lyrics are not particularly obscure, they get the message across with a song that builds in aggressiveness and creates the anguish that Grohl felt as a child.
The most notable of the live versions is the final song on the album, “Cloudspotter.” As implied with the title, the song is about a pessimist, or someone who looks for clouds on a bright day. Lyrically, Grohl uses more poetic metaphors than “Waiting on a War.” Grohl belts “Swing, swing guillotine queen / cut me back down 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 the Foo’s greatest albums. Rockified disco is definitely fun and entertaining to listen to; although, it’s not the same as listening to the classics. The Foo Fighters originals on the album are not 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 a fun listen for rock fans.