The Big Issue : Edition 545
THEBIGISSUE8–21SEP2017 37 CONCRETE AND GOLD FOO FIGHTERS SELECT Covering the standouts in film, music, books and home entertainment GOLD, GOLD, GOLD TO FOO FIGHTERS. STRANGE HOW FOO Fighters’ self-titled, debut album is now the least Foo Fighters-sounding thing in their discography. Recorded in a week, with Dave Grohl playing almost everything, it’s rougher and weirder than the ultimate American stadium-filling rock band they became. Still, each new Foo Fighters album provides a couple of songs that will make the second disc of the eventual Best of Foo compilation even more of a banger. Early on, Concrete and Gold feels like it might break that mould. Opener ‘T-shirt’ follows the lyric “I don’t want to be Queen/Just trying to keep my T-shirt clean” with a blast of bombast, the most Queen-like thing they’ve done since covering ‘We Will Rock You’. It’s wonderful – shame it only lasts a minute. Later they go psychedelic Beatles on ‘The Sky Is a Neighbourhood’ and there’s a fair bit of Britpop in ‘Sunday Rain’ as well, which drummer Taylor Hawkins takes lead on. They’ve been working with Paul McCartney and his influence has finally rubbed off. There are some songs that make a great case for Foo Fighters as glam- prog – all echo backing vocals and choruses that drift off into space – but then the rest fight back. ‘Arrows’ is a typical arena-rock anthem, a slow start and ratatat drum build to a chorus where Grohl screams; and ‘Dirty Water’ does the gentle acoustic thing for a couple of minutes before becoming another screamer. Yet even when they’re basically playing ZZ Top riffs, they’re very good ZZ Top riffs. There’s a reason they get the sweet spots on festival lineups, which these songs are perfect for. This is the first album where keyboardist Rami Jaffee has received a full band credit and he deserves it, his contributions marking the more ambitious songs. The title track, with its noodling and wailing (Shawn Stockman from Boyz II Men of all people on backing vocals), is a perfect example. Perhaps this album’s genesis – half written by Grohl alone while recovering from an injury, echoing the isolation and focus that led to the first album – also helped. However it happened, Concrete and Gold is almost but not quite a bold new direction, held back a little by the Foo Fighters’ natural tendency to RAWK OUT the same way every chance they get. It’s still the best thing they’ve done in ages. by Jody Macgregor (@jodymacgregor) » Foo Fighters’ Concrete & Gold is out 15 September.