Celebrating the 40th anniversary of their biggest hit, the immortal “Slow Ride,” gave the members of Foghat an idea last year: Why not do it again?
That’s how a fresh version of the slinky strip club favorite — premiering exclusively below — made its way onto Under The Influence, Foghat’s first new album in six years, coming out Friday. “We wanted to do it because it was the 40th anniversary, and it’s kind of a nod and a tribute to (late Foghat guitarists) Rod Price and to Lonesome Dave (Peverett),” drummer Roger Earl, the sole original member left in Foghat’s lineup, tells Billboard. “It just seemed like a good idea, and it was easy and fun to do. I love playing the song, even after all these years.”
The wrinkle on the new version of “Slow Ride” is the presence of not one but two bass players connected to the song — Nick Jameson, who played on the original studio version for 1975’s Fool For The City album, and Craig MacGregor, who joined the band shortly thereafter and played “Slow Ride” on 1977’s LIVE album. “When Craig joined us at the end of 1975, we had already recorded the Fool For The City album but Nick wanted to leave the band and do his own album,” Earl recalls. “Well, we weren’t taking [time] off for anything except to make records, and we’d actually auditioned Craig prior to that, before Nick joined us. So we called up Craig again and he played with us and we took him on the road for about two or three weeks, just to see what it was like and to hang out and learn all Nick’s chops and stuff. And [MacGregor] liked what he heard and saw, so it was a fairly smooth transition.”
MacGregor, who resides in central Pennsylvania, is currently fighting lung and brain cancer, which has been exacerbated by what his wife Lisa says was “a preventable medical error.” She’s lobbying Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf and others to pass a state House of Representatives bill that would require health care providers to notify patients directly and not just their doctors about abnormal test results. Earl recently visited MacGregor and says, “He’s up for the fight. He’s not giving up. He was always somewhat of a cantankerous bastard, which is one of the reasons I love him so much. He’s not gonna go easy into this good night. He’s fighting it all the way.”
Foghat, meanwhile, battles on with Under The Influence, which the group began recording in 2013 and later brought in Grammy Award-winning producer Tom Hambridge, who Earl met that year at the Blues Music Awards in Memphis. “We had a few drinks and [Hambridge] said he was a big fan of Foghat and would love to produce us one day,” Earl recalls. “About halfway through this record, we called him up and he came down to our studio in Florida and hung out and he was fantastic. He had some great ideas and we worked on some songs, the arrangements and stuff, and he handled himself really well and it worked. He came down again about six or nine months later and he’d written some songs specifically for us, and it was great. We hadn’t really worked with an outside producer for a number of years, but Tom was a good idea.”
The album also features a guest appearance on the track “Upside Of Lonely” by Savoy Brown leader Kim Simmonds, who mentored Earl, Peverett and original Foghat bassist Tony Stevens in that band before they left to form Foghat in 1971. “Playing with Kim was a real thrill for me again,” Earl notes. “He gave me my first job when I was 20, in Savoy Brown. We’ve met each other over the years and we’ve jammed together. It was like a full-circle thing for me.”