Originally released on July 4th, 1995. Original version of this review published on April 1st, 2007.
No wonder that Dave Grohl wanted a low-key introduction to the world for his solo project; the weight of expectation would have swamped most artists, especially as the sign hung above his (Bands) eponymous debut effectively said “All my own work”. Given this it worked to be bold from the start, This Is A Call opened up all buzz-sawing guitar and doubled up choruses but came laden with overt pop hooks, Ramones-meeting-Mary–Chain, the angst and toxicity absent and a sign of a man confidently setting his own agenda. Traditionalists were aghast and the sussed found it ironic, but it felt entirely fitting that one of grunge’s key players would signal it’s long overdue end by making a record which was just as tied to punk, but less inclined to pander to the genre’s opiate induced negativity.
Continuing the salvo without offering an opportunity to draw breath, Grohl kept pushing the buttons – I’ll Stick Around, Alone and Good Grief seamlessly steering the whole thing perceptibly closer to the mainstream – and by now you felt the kids were most definitely over their disappointment. Critically, in amongst the reinvention was a creature driven to almost extinction, Grohl now effectively a singer-songwriter, developing from grunge pupae to illusory post-punk chrysalis in glorious technicolour. Continuing to challenge preconceptions head on, the incandescence of Big Me and Floaty proved that he was proudly hiding from no-one. True, the quality and imagination did begin to fade as FF moved to a conclusion (Although the languid cod-country For All The Cows was another maverick surprise) but criticism like that was rightly dismissed as anal; what had begun as an almost private work for the benefit of a few hundred people had become through no fault of Grohl’s one of the most anticipated debut albums of the decade. As an exercise in proving that there was still a path to travel without Cobain, this ticked all it’s boxes, and was a success in it’s own and everyone else’s terms.
Rating 3 ½ Stars
Download – This Is A Call, Big Me, I’ll Stick Around