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Album Audit: Foo Fighters

With Dave Grohl making the Foo Fighters’ hiatus official yesterday – “I’m not sure when the Foo Fighters are going to play again,” he wrote to fans – we thought it was prime time to reacquaint ourselves with their back catalogue, ordering their seven albums from worst to best.

7. In Your Honour (2005)

‘In Your Honour’ was Grohl’s pet project: an ambitious record that ultimately missed the mark. In an effort to break down preconceptions about the “Foo Fighters sound” the band released a two-disc album – one rock, one acoustic – and the result was their most inconsistent and overwrought to date. The heavier side was propped up by a handful of tunes (‘Best of You’, ‘No Way Back’) while the acoustic disc had few memorable moments. As Billboard concluded: “The Foos could have made one great album instead of two average ones.” – Sarah Smith

6. Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace (2007)

Having lost the sonic balance of “sheen versus grit” so delicately achieved on The Colour and The Shape, Foo Fighters invited producer Gil Norton back into the fold for album six. Gone was the awkward song segregation of In Your Honour, in its place a band more sure of their sound and confident they could saddle pop (‘Long Road to Ruin’) alongside patented Foo riffage (‘Erase/Replace’). While some called it Foos-by-numbers, there were still one or two offbeat moments, like the multi-faceted bluegrass instrumental ‘The Ballad of the Beaconsfield Miners’. – SS

5. There Is Nothing Left To Lose (1999)

Tired of the LA party life, Grohl bought a house in, of all places, Virginia and converted the basement into a studio. You could say things were pretty chilled for the band – now down to three after the departure of guitarist Franz Stohl – with Dave even getting his Frampton on for the intro of ‘Generator’ (still one of the band’s best songs). An album of stretching out and having fun. There’s a bossa nova-like beat in the verse of ‘Stacked Actors’ (an alleged Courtney Love diss); a tilt at radio-friendly pop on ‘Learn To Fly’ (not to mention a very memorable clip); and the country-ish ditty ‘Ain’t It The Life’, which was probably written on a porch. – Darren Levin

4. One By One (2002)

The infamous million dollar album – ‘One By One’ was recorded, scrapped and then re-recorded over a three-year period which saw the Foos reach both a creative and personal breaking point. It was the first record in which the band fully utilise Pro Tools for the first time, eschewing their grunge roots in favour of the slick “clean rock” sound which would go on to define their later records. Despite Dave Grohl flexing his creative muscle on ballads like ‘Halo’ and ‘Times Like These’ the album was criticised for being all hits and no heart (somewhat ironically given the cover art). Ultimately it was the tension between band members – so audible on aggressive album opener ‘All My Life’ and Queens of The Stone Age carbon-copy ‘Low’ – that injected the album with a much needed personality and brutality that couldn’t be buffed out in production. – SS

3. Wasting Light (2011)

Once you get past the paradox of rehearsing for a month to make an “imperfect” record in a custom-built garage with Butch Vig as supervising producer, this actually rocks really hard. Grohl employed a tri-guitar attack, with original guitarist Pat Smear returning to the studio after a lengthy absence. The riffs may’ve been relentless – from the opening barrage of ‘Bridge Burning’ to the jittery ‘Rope’ (as “mathy” as the Foos have ever been) – but rarely at the expense of a good hook. They could do a lot worse than ending it all here. – DL

2. Foo Fighters (1995)

Still reeling from the death of Nirvana bandmate Kurt Cobain, Grohl checked himself in – not to rehab or a psychologist’s chair, but a Seattle studio. He bashed out a bunch of songs he’d written years earlier on an 8-track with zero expectations – as the somewhat lo-fi production qualities will attest – and ended up laying the foundation for one of the biggest rock bands in the world. It may be a bit grubbier than the studio slickness that followed, but there’s no denying the quality of the songwriting. From the all-out catharsis of ‘Wattershed’ to the pop songcraft of ‘Big Me’ and post-grunge classics like ‘This Is A Call’ and ‘I’ll Stick Around’, all the raw elements of the Foos’ sound are there. – DL

1. The Colour And The Shape (1997)

If you’re going to make a guitar album full of loud-soft-loud dynamics why not get the guy behind the Pixies’ Doolittle to produce it? British producer Gil Norton brought just the right amount of studio sheen to the Foos’ sound without sacrificing the somewhat visceral quality of their debut. The album opens on a quiet note with the minute-and-a-half ballad ‘Doll’, but it’s just a ruse – from there it’s an onslaught of genuine hits (‘Monkey Wrench’, ‘My Hero’, ‘Everlong’); how-the-hell-aren’t-they hits (‘Hey, Johnny Park’, ‘Enough Space’, ‘My Poor Brain’); and some of the most beautifully sentimental songs Grohl has ever penned (‘February Stars’ and song-within-a-song ‘Up In Arms’). Nirvana who? – DL

How you rated them…

Comments

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Snutty

Snutty said on the 4th Oct, 2012

do i really need to point out that you've actually ordered them from worst to best?

conditionals

conditionals said on the 4th Oct, 2012

ah, the old highly subjective apparently objective list. i'll never forget grohl saying that 'in your honour' was meant to be the 'definitive' foo fighters album, the only one you had to buy. ho ho ho.

shazie

shazie said on the 4th Oct, 2012



"we thought it was prime time to reacquaint ourselves with their back catalogue, ordering their seven albums from worst to best."

?

Unless they've done a sneaky edit since you've posted that.

Braveheart81

Braveheart81 said on the 4th Oct, 2012

The byline at the top of the page says from best to worst.

MorningAfterboy

MorningAfterboy said on the 4th Oct, 2012

http://mcgarnagle.files.wordpress.com/2011/08/vlcsnap-00069.jpg

Lucan

Lucan said on the 4th Oct, 2012

Like the idea of this article. Disagree with the rankings.

berlinchair101

berlinchair101 said on the 4th Oct, 2012

They haven't released a good record from start to finish since There is Nothing Left To Lose.

Wasting Light was a turd.

RocknrollHendo

RocknrollHendo said on the 4th Oct, 2012

they haven't released a good record from start to finish since there is nothing left to lose.

wasting light was a turd.


agreed, was surprised to see they ranked wl so highly. c&s, tinltl, ff, obo, esp&g, wl, iyh is my ranking.

shazie

shazie said on the 4th Oct, 2012

There is Nothing Left to Lose is probably my personal favourite, Generator alone is the greatest song to use a talk box (Sorry Mr Frampton).

Napoleon Solo

Napoleon Solo said on the 4th Oct, 2012

They haven't released a good record from start to finish since There is Nothing Left To Lose.

Wasting Light was a turd.

I would take it a step further and say Color and the Shape. Nothing Left to Lose dies in the ass in a big way.



EAD

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eDZ961xhNEo

berlinchair101

berlinchair101 said on the 4th Oct, 2012

I would take it a step further and say Color and the Shape. Nothing Left to Lose dies in the ass in a big way.



Fair call.

rohan_750

rohan_750 said on the 7th Oct, 2012

in your honour number 7 that albums way better then wasting light and echoes what u talking about this is my order:
7. echoes
6. wasting light
5. there is nothing left to loose
4. in your honour
3. one by one
2. foo fighters
1. colour and the shape

Lucan

Lucan said on the 7th Oct, 2012

I genuinely enjoyed Wasting Light.

After being disappointed by One By One, In Your Honour and Echoes Silence .... it was a long time wondering if the band would ever again release something I could sink my teeth into.