Tuesday, January 4, 2011

January 4: Foo Fighters, "This Is A Call"

Artist: Foo Fighters
Song: "This Is A Call"
Album: Foo Fighters
Year: 1995

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN (will open in new tab)

While walking away from any band is a difficult task, when that band is one of the most famous in history, it is almost unfathomable.  Furthermore, it is almost impossible to distance oneself enough from such a group to give a new band a "fair" shot at establishing themselves.  However, though it is an extremely rare occurrence, it seems that once in a generation, an artist with exceptional talent is able to pull off such a feat.  In the 1990's, after completely altering the shape of music forever, Nirvana's career came to an abrupt end with the still-controversial loss of Kurt Cobain.  Even in the period preceding this event, Nirvana's drummer, Dave Grohl, had been giving hints that he may have already been moving on to new projects.  The band he would form would go on to establish themselves as one of the greatest rock bands in history, and to this day, few groups command the world-wide respect and draw that one finds in the music of Foo Fighters.  While it is very difficult to argue any drummer of that era having more impact than Grohl, the fact of the matter is, his work within Foo Fighters showed that he knew no musical boundaries, and this is cemented by the fact that he plays every instrument, as well as singing on the bands' 1995 self-titled debut.  Remaining today one of the most powerful and potent rock albums ever recorded, everything that makes Foo Fighters so phenomenal can be experienced in the first single released by the band, 1995's "This Is A Call."

In nearly any case, a sound that is as instantly captivating and unforgettable as one finds throughout Foo Fighters is worth commendation, but the fact that every instrument (minus one on one song) on the entire album is played by Dave Grohl sets the album into its own category, as well as placing Grohl into an elite group of musicians.  With the talent that he displays here, one can only wonder what a number of songs from his previous band may have sounded like had his talents been used to their full potential.  Regardless, the arrangement on "This Is A Call" brings to the forefront everything that makes rock and roll so fantastic, and the bright, unrestrained sound presents an amazing contrast to the sound for which Grohl had been known to that point.  Even the opening feedback that is clearly a disconnected guitar cable somehow manages to work perfectly, setting a superb mood and tension that the remainder of the song pushes to amazing heights.  Clearly having a great understanding of musical timing and mood, the way in which Grohl draws in the listener with the softer opening guitar passage before dropping full-speed into the core of the song remains one of the most memorable moments of the decade, and the energy which he brings through both the guitar and drums throughout the rest of "This Is A Call" stands as proof that though many claimed it was at the time, rock and roll was still alive and well.

Along with the surprise to most that he could play seemingly any instrument with an exceptional level of skill, it was his performance on "This Is A Call" that also showed the world that Dave Grohl was a top-notch singer and lyricist.  Again showing an amazing range of ability, throughout "This Is A Call," Grohl uses both a more restrained approach during the verses, while the full force bridge and chorus sections are as good as one will find anywhere.  In many ways, his singing during the verses presented an odd contrast to the perception that most had of Grohl at the time, and it was largely due to the success of "This Is A Call" that Grohl was able to add this new definition of his abilities to his image.  However, the grit and growl that "is" rock and roll, as well as served as the basis for his previous band is still very present, and it is the way in which Grohl keeps this intact, whilst ensuring a high level of musica quality that makes all the songs of Foo Fighters so fantastic.  Even lyrically there is a deeper, yet universal appeal, as Grohl seamlessly fuses together his own cryptic words with amazing phrases that remain just as powerful to this day.  There is perhaps no more fitting a line that would describe the position Grohl was in at the time then when he sings, "...this is a call to all my past resignations..."  The song clearly serves as a nod to all those in his past in every aspect, and yet one can also see the line as almost a "warning" of the great things to come, and it is the way in which Dave Grohl sings this and every other line on the song that makes "This Is A Call" such an important moment in rock history.

To say that the world was in no way ready for Foo Fighters is a massive understatement, as it remains one of the most powerful, yet completely unexpected albums ever released.  In nearly every way, the album completely defied description at the time, and when people later learned that it is in essence a set of home recordings made completely by Grohl, the overall stature of the record grew even greater.  Even nearly two decades later, few records can compare to the power and appeal of the album, and it is this fact alone that proves the impact, appeal and exceptional level of talent shown throughout the record.  Though many bands have had great songs that kicked off their career, none are quite on par with the first single ever released under the name Foo Fighters, "This Is A Call."  Within weeks of its release, the song had rocketed into the top five on the charts across the globe, and the fact that it stayed there and remains such a memorable songs proves that this was more than just a generation attempting to "hold on" to a former band.  Almost instantly, Grohl had separated himself from his previous band and proved that his own musical abilities went far beyond anything he had previously shown.  Though one can connect the two groups through the sense of urgency in their music, as well as the tone of their songs, Foo Fighters seem to be able to convey these moods with a bit of a lighter feel, as well as with far more catchy songs and almost more majestic musical arrangements.  Unquestionably one of the most stunning debut records in history, there remain few songs from any point in music that can compare to the sonic power and almost mesmerizing presence that one finds in Foo Fighters first single, 1995's unforgettable, "This Is A Call."

No comments: