It’s been over 25 years since they released their self-titled debut, but Foo Fighters are still one of the biggest and most dependable rock bands on the planet. They might have settled a little too comfortably into ‘dad rock’ territory for some people’s liking, but if you listen to the albums rather than just the stadium-ready singles, you’ll still find plenty of fire in their bellies. This October, they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in their first year of eligibility. To celebrate the achievement, we’ve taken a look back at their career and ranked all 10 Foo Fighters albums. Here they are.
10. Sonic Highways
As cleveland.com says, Foo Fighters don’t have any bad albums. What they do have are a few that are average. In other words, albums like Sonic Highways. It was written to accompany the HBO series “Foo Fighters: Sonic Highways,” which captured Dave Grohl as he traveled to eight cities, absorbed the music culture in each and then recorded a song about it. The show was fun, the album less so. There are some nice guest appearances from the likes of Joe Walsh, Gary Clark Jr., and Rick Nielsen, but overall, it feels a little flat.
9. Medicine at Midnight
The band’s most recent album is Medicine at Midnight. It’s not a bad album by any stretch, and there’s plenty of solid tracks. Just don’t expect any surprises. Foo Fighters have carved out their place in dad-rock territory and don’t seem inclined to leave. Considering how many records it sells, you can’t blame them. Medicine at Midnight is the sound of Foo Fighters on autopilot. It’s perfectly likable, just not particularly exciting.
8. One by One
Back in 2002, Foo Fighters dropped One By One. It started incredibly, kicking off with an incendiary guitar riff on All My Life and carrying on the amazingness with tracks like Low, Have It All, and Times Like These (all of which were released as singles). But then it starts to go downhill. Foo Fighters seem to have injected so much energy and excitement into the singles, they’ve got nothing less for the deep cuts.
7. In Your Honor
Double albums are always tricky, but Foo Fighters do a reasonable job on In Your Honor. The first half is dedicated to heavy rock songs, the second half to acoustic tracks. Both sides come off well, with the anthemic DOA and acoustic Best of You standing out for particular praise. It’s too long and could have benefited from more judicious editing, but it’s still worth a listen.
6. Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace
Like In Your Honor, Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace is a mixture of hard rock and acoustic tracks. Dave Grohl goes hard on the message angle, tackling bigger, more universal subjects than ever before. By and large, he pulls it off. Musically, it’s less successful. Summer’s End is nice enough and the singles are predictably strong, but overall, it lacks excitement.
5. Concrete and Gold
Foo Fighters don’t leave their comfort zone too often, but in 2017, Grohl coaxed them away from the dad rock zone with the politically charged Concrete and Gold. He should try it more often. The album’s remarkably solid – concise, consistent, and as strong sonically as it is thematically.
4. Wasting Light
By 2011, Foo Fighters were overdue a great record. So, with Pat Smear back on board, they released Wasting Light, their best album in years and a major return to form. Key tracks include Rope, Walk and These Days, but even the weaker tracks still punch hard. The raw energy of their earlier days is there, but producer Butch Vig has applied enough spit and polish to make it stadium-ready. If there was any question about who the biggest rock band in the world was, this album answered it.
3. Foo Fighters
Foo Fighters debut was conceived by Dave Grohl as a type of musical therapy to help him deal with the loss of Kurt Cobain and the end of Nirvana. It’s less a Foo Fighters album than a Dave Grohl solo project, with Grohl playing virtually every instrument himself. Either way, it’s epic, with enough vitality and energy to smooth over any cracks. As NME says, it may be rough around the edges, but it’s an impressive first salvo.
2. There Is Nothing Left to Lose
1999’s There Is Nothing Left to Lose is the Foo Fighters album that spurns every expectation of the band. It starts with three stadium anthems (Stacked Actors, Breakout, and Learn to Fly), moves into new wave on Gimme Stitches, Generator and Headwires, and then transforms into the tenderest and most heartfelt hard rock album ever. Trying to be all things to all people rarely works, but here, it does – spectacularly. Defiant, melodic, cohesive, and utterly unique, the band couldn’t have closed out the decade with a better album.
1. The Colour and the Shape
Foo Fighters’ second stadium album was their first album as a full band. Grohl had decided to stop playing every instrument himself, and Pat Smear and Nate Mendel had been bought in to flesh out the sound. Grohl couldn’t quite bring himself to give up complete control though, and ended up re-recording most of William Goldsmith’s drum parts. You have to feel sorry for Goldsmith, but ultimately, Grohl’s decision was to the benefit of the album – especially on My Hero, arguably one of the band’s best songs and one that’s impossible to imagine anyone but Grohl sitting behind the drums for. While subsequent albums would give us great hit singles but less impressive deep cuts, The Color and the Shape works on both levels. There are the anthemic singles (Monkey Wrench, Everlong, and My Hero) but then there are the equally impressive album cuts like New Way Home, Walking After You, and February Stars. Combined, it’s masterful.
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