If you have access to HBO and are not watching “Sonic Highways,” an eight-part documentary series by Dave Grohl, you should. It’s a wonderfully well-done homage to the musical histories of eight American cities.
If you like Grohl’s band, Foo Fighters, and you haven’t yet listened to the accompanying new album released Nov. 10, “Sonic Highways,” you should. Is it Foo Fighters at their best? No. But it’s yet another strong effort from the consistently strong arena rockers.
Since this column is called “The List,” I’ll not go into detail reviewing “Sonic Highways.” But after listening to it a few times, I wondered where the new record ranked among the eight studio releases from the band.
So, I listened to all of the band’s records last week and ranked them. Turns out “Sonic Highways” is right about in the middle. Here’s my list. Tell me what you think.
1. The Colour and the Shape (1997) – The second release by Foo Fighters, but its first as a band. The most anthemic of the band’s records, it includes “Everlong” and “My Hero,” perhaps still the best Foo Fighters songs. Grade: A
2. Wasting Light (2011) – Recorded in Grohl’s garage using only analog equipment, the band’s seventh record is its most powerful. “These Days” and “Walk” were instant classics, and “White Limo” has features the Grohl growl at its finest. Grade: A
3. There is Nothing Left to Lose (1999) – The band’s third album, but its first with its backbone, drummer Taylor Hawkins. This one’s all over the map musically, from the raw “Stacked Actors” to the megahit “Learn to Fly” to the beautiful “Next Year.” Grade: A
4. Sonic Highways (2014) – Opening tracks “Something from Nothing” and “The Feast and the Famine” are as good as anything the Foos have recorded. “I Am a River” is a grand finale, complete with strings. Strings! Grade: A-minus
5. In Your Honor (2005) – Actually, the first record/disc of this 2-record set would rank as the band’s best release by itself, and includes “Best of You” and my favorite FF album opener, “In Your Honor.” The second record features mellower, acoustic songs that are mostly good but not great. Grade: A-minus
6. Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace (2007) – The record opens with hit “The Pretender” and includes some excellent rockers, like “Let It Die” and “Erase/Replace.” This one, though, sort of limps through the middle before finishing strong. Grade: B-plus
7. One By One (2002) – The band struggled to make this album, and it shows. It opens with the raucous “All My Life” and includes another staple, “Times Like These.” But the rest of the record is uneven and includes some of the band’s now most obscure tracks. Grade: B
8. Foo Fighters (1995) – The debut record was almost entirely a one-man effort by Dave Grohl. Coming off Grohl’s Nirvana days, the record leaned heavily on the grunge. Not bad, just not great. But a fair number of songs from this record still make concert setlists. Nearly 20 years later, that’s saying something. Grade: B