Late last year I discussed the Foo Fighters and their self titled debut album. While, to me, that album is one of Dave Grohl’s finest efforts in order to truly quantify Foo Fighters as a band, you have to go further than their 1994 debut. You see, the first album was mostly just Grohl, and, while he credits the entire band as The Foo Fighters, it was not until their second album The Colour and the Shape that the first full band appeared. Many years had passed since the original lineup and fifteen years ago, in 2005, The Foo Fighters released one of my all time favorites, In Your Honor.
Why This Album?
Consisting of a double album, this release features what is widely recognized as The Foo Fighters core members, Dave Grohl, Chris Shiflett, Nate Mendel and Taylor Hawkins. Having played together as a band since the 1999 release There is Nothing Left To Lose, this album certifies just how tight and talented this group is.
The interesting thing about In Your Honor is both it’s duality and lineup of guests artists. Challenging what ‘Foo Fighters’ had come to sound like, Dave and the band decided to take a different direction exploring new sounds and styles ultimately creating an album that really dives deep into the foundations and roots of this post-grunge phenomena. Splitting the album into two sides, one ‘Rock’ and the other ‘Acoustic’ we get a chance to see the band through various lenses, all of which reveal just how talented this group is.
Opening the ‘rock’ album with the title track In Your Honor we get nothing short of the Foo’s intense rocking power. There is little held back on this disc with Grohl belting out his lyrics as the band keeps up the intensity through and through. There is no doubt that this is indeed a rock album but it is also careful to never go into the metal side of Grohl’s past, just merely grazing it from time to time. That being said, it never feels as if the band are holding back, in fact it feels as if they have finally found the freedom to just let loose and it feels good.
The second disc, or the ‘Acoustic’ Side of the album, is a much more introspective lineup of tunes diving deep into the bands softer side. Opening with the chilling tune ‘Still’, with the exception of the Taylor Hawkins led Cold Day In The Song, there is not a song on here that will not have you floating away in an acoustic dream. Not to say Taylor’s tune isn’t a pleasant one, it just happens to be the one track that doesn’t quite fit either the ‘rock’ or ‘acoustic’ theme yet somehow manages to remain a solid track of it’s own. Interestingly this one track does provide a great entry to mention Taylor’s other band Taylor Hawkins and the Coat Tail Riders that released it’s first album just ahead of this one. They are pretty solid and if you dig Taylor’s classic rock sensibilities, you might want to give them a go.
The thing that makes the acoustic side mean a little more to me is the inclusion of a tune called ‘Friend of a Friend’. Back in the early days of the Foo Fighters I was more than obsessed with this band and in that I found myself on the search for everything that Grohl recorded. Having been exposed to an early track by Grohl via a Nirvana Single for Heat Shaped Box, the song Marigold haunted me with how soft and introspective Dave could be. Soon, I discovered that Dave Grohl had recorded not one but two ‘first’ albums, one released and the other seemingly lost to the aether. Dubbed ‘The Pocket Watch Demos‘ this true first album was a collection of songs released on cassette by Grohl under the name ‘Late!’. In my search I ran across a CD with these tunes and soon found myself enthralled by the ‘unreleased’ songs on there. From tunes like Pokey The Little Puppy, Petrol CB, Color Pictures of a Merigold and more it was the song Friend of a Friend that intrigued me the most. Clearly about his relationship with Nirvana front-man Cobain, I found the tune to be a sorrowful reminder of the band that had changed my musical tastes in 1989. Fast forward 16 years later and the track was back, no less impactful, but a little more polished. I can’t say that I did’t get a little verklempt at the inclusion of this tune and what it meant for Grohl himself. To me, this was his way of saying it was time to let go of the past, and while painful, I couldn’t agree more. Good luck finding the Pocket Watch Demos, but if you do, they are pretty great. I hope that there
To Me, In Your Honor is a turning point in the Foo Fighters career. It is a masterpiece in and of itself but it is also the recognition of the past while clearly embracing the future. This is an album that just works in every way making it a true Stand Out Album.
I usually only pick three songs here but since there are two discs, I will select two from each. Not an easy feat, but these are the tunes I think that will get you hooked.
From the Rock side
No Way Back. There is something that is just fun about this tune. Sure it has the ‘foo’ feel but man is it a blast to listen to.
Resolve. While on the rock album, this is a much more mellow song that is more pop than anything. It is great though and really has all the feelz.
From the Acoustic Side
I will be blunt, this is my favorite half of the album so choosing two is gonna be tough.
Friend of a Friend has to make the cut as it is one of my longest favorites from Dave.
Virginia Moon is the other. My God man this duet with Norah Jones is nothing short of gorgeous. I tried to replicate that in my karaoke (Yeah I do Karaoke) attempt a few months back and luckily got a great partner to sing with. Here it is if you dig karaoke. If not well…move along.
Ok, Where do I get it?
For some reason finding a CD copy of this one isn’t easy but if you like Vinyl here you go. Otherwise, Spotify has you covered.
No matte how you listen to it, just do. I think there is something here you will dig.
Late to the Game 6/16/2020
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