REVIEW: Foo Fighters – Sonic Highways 1 – Chicago “Something From Nothing”

Back in 2014, Uncle Meat asked me to sit down with him and write up Dave Grohl’s series / album Sonic Highways episode by episode, song by song.  Eight hour day at minimum.  I said OK.  I took meticulous notes.  Then we never finished it.  So I’m posting them all now, nine years late, as-is and unrefined.

FOO FIGHTERS – Sonic Highways 1 – Chicago “Something From Nothing”

Chicago.  20 years.  Time to do something special. Something they’d never done before.

The assumption is that the environment in which you record, affects the finished recording.  The history of each city resonates in the grooves.

Buddy Guy, Joe Walsh, Bonnie Raitt, Rick Neilson, Jimmie Vaughan, Billy Gibbons, and more are all on hand to talk about the Chicago blues.  It all started with Muddy Waters – “Muddy was the magnet.”  The blues clubs in Chicago grew into a phenomenon.  Buddy Guy came to Chicago “looking for a dime, but found a quarter”.  These blues roots later influenced the guitar work of Cheap Trick’s Rick Neilson.  Coming up, he played with all the greats before finding his own fame.

The Foo Fighters enter the Chicago studio of producer Steve Albini, a tenacious bastard of a producer clad in coveralls, to see what will happen.  Dave Grohl is a big fan of his drum sound, having worked with him before on In Utero, and he knows he will get a huge drum sound here.  Butch Vig is the producer for the sessions. Albini, though, was initially attracted to Chicago for its infant punk scene.  He was an “annoying kid” who hung out with the band Naked Raygun, who really kicked off the scene.  Even Dave Grohl’s Chicago cousin Tracey had a punk band called Verboten.  Punk was coming up in Chicago.  The record store Wax Trax was critical to the growing scene.  Grohl himself bought records there when visiting his cousins in town.

“Something From Nothing” begins to emerge from that funky “Holy Diver” riff.  Chris Shifflet lays down a noisy, fast guitar solo with the raving encouragement of his bandmates.  Rick Neilson lays down some thick chords, even though the Foo Fighters already have three guitarists!  Lyrically, a lot of the song comes from Buddy Guy’s own story coming up in Chicago.  The record company wanted him to change his name.  “Buddy Guy isn’t a stage name.”  How wrong they were!  Buddy Guy used to make rudimentary musical instruments with buttons and strings, and that made it into the lyrics.

The result is a powerful, epic song of massive proportions.  It snakes its way through multiple riffs and sections, but it’s that “Holy Diver” riff that first hooks you.  “Funky Diver”, maybe.  It’s a clear sonic assault.  This is, by far, Uncle Meat’s favourite Foo Fighters song.

Episode 4.5/5 stars

Song 5/5 stars



        1. Nobody else does. I could go back to posting 5000 word Def Leppard reviews and they would continue to tank.

          I’m sick and tired of everything. Whatever I’ve done wrong, it’s not reversible.

          Liked by 1 person

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