A time travel adventure through rock history
Sammy Hagar and The Circle have returned with an extraordinary album, Lockdown 2020. The band apparently spent their quarantine in virtual jam sessions that quickly turned into a full album of covers and one new song. These covers include the work of classic rock legends like David Bowie, AC/DC and Little Richard. The band does justice to the originals by adding some personal touches, giving the listener a whole new perspective on these smash hits. This album couldn’t have come at a more perfect moment—the world is in the middle of a pandemic and plenty of other global issues, and people needed something to uplift their spirits. With Lockdown 2020, the band does just that; the project is 11 powerful tracks of truly impressive hard rock craftsmanship.
The supergroup consists of famous hard rock artists Sammy Hagar (Montrose and Vanhalen), Jason Bonham (Led Zeppelin), Michael Anthony (Van Halen) and Vic Johnson (The BusBoys). Lockdown 2020 is, of course, the perfect album for hard rock lovers, but it also might be helpful to anyone who has experienced the wild ride that was 2020. The album opens with the band’s new song, “Funky Feng Shui,” a track that started as the band’s backstage warmup jam. It’s an interesting insight into into how they jam together, the very basis for this entire album. This funky and palatable track is an excellent way to kick-off the album.
The band comments on a number of current events throughout the album within their cover selections. They get political on The Who’s “Won’t Get Fooled Again,” and Buffalo Springfield’s “For What It’s Worth,” both of which are already well-known for their incisive criticisms of those in power. “For What It’s Worth,” originally written by Stephen Stills, was inspired by the Sunset Strip curfew riots, a series of clashes between protestors and police. Hagar and the Circle’s cover seems to be a response to 2020’s many protests and riots. Of course, in line with Hagar and the gang’s more dynamic performances, this cover is far more energetic than the original track.
Lockdown 2020 also features three Van Halen songs and some of Hagar’s solo tracks. The band covers Van Halen’s “Right Now,” which makes sense given the album’s preeminent goal—a summation of 2020. Hagar originally wrote the song with Eddie Van Halen to discuss world issues and to suggest that people should live in the moment, a message that obviously still holds true today, especially during a global pandemic. The cover does not feature the original’s signature piano, instead including a greater emphasis on guitar.
One of the weakest covers is of Bob Marley’s “Three Little Birds,” where the band attempts a reggae beat on electric guitars, which, while they are ultimately unsuccessful, is a perfect showcase for fans of their rock gods’ goofy side. The final track is a cover of David Bowie’s “Heroes,” a remarkable and apt way to express their appreciation to all essential workers and first responders during the coronavirus pandemic. No one can ever go wrong with this track, and the band stays close to the original.
Lockdown 2020 attempts to summarize all the intense moments and overwhelming emotions that we all lived through this past year. Somewhat, it still feels like a very uplifting and energetic project. There is vitality here; a lust for life exists in Sammy Hagar and The Circle that just won’t disappear. This album is a magnificent and encouraging way to reflect upon 2020 and travel through rock history with some of its greatest hits.