Save Me San Francisco can be looked at 2 different ways. Most would call it the 5th studio album from the band, I consider it the 2nd album from the “new” Train. When the original line up of this band was together they took a musical backseat to no one and were a tight live band. On the previous release they tried to pass off they were still a five piece; on Save Me San Francisco they skipped that kind of deception and embraced the fact that they are now a 3 piece ensemble. Some have referred to this as a comeback record for Train and on the surface it may appear that way. More over it was a comeback record for Pat Monahan, the bands lead singer, and a reinvention of the unit as more of a supporting act to Pat. The music on this disc, while catchy and sometimes very good, bears no resemblance to the band that brought you Meet Virginia and Drops of Jupiter. Rob Hotchkiss, who was the heart and soul of this band, quit towards the end of recording for My Private Nation in 2003. In 2006 they released For Me It’s You which was a commercial flop and was their first album to sell less than 500,000 units. At that point Pat decided to record a solo record and it appeared that Train they may have been done as a band. But Pat’s solo effort also was a flop commercially and it allowed him to once again turn his attention toward Train. This is a lite rock Train record, geared much more towards pop sensibility than the classic rock influence that they started out with. When they get it right it is very good and when they don’t it isn’t. The first 3 songs out of the gate are great. “Save Me San Francisco” is a fun homage to the city where the band came out of in the mid ’90’s. The lyrics flow nicely and are not forced too much, as Pat can tend to do at times. Not much that I can really add about “Hey Soul Sister” as everyone reading this blog should know this tune by now. It is quite literally a pop rock masterpiece and has resurrected the band and possibly saved them from the what we used to call “banishment to the clearance bin”. The 3rd track, “I Got You” is the strongest track after “Hey Soul Sister” on this album. It is a mystery to me what the jackass’ involved in deciding which song should have been the second single off this record were thinking. Once again Pat’s lyrics are not overly forced and the mix in of the Doobie Brothers “Black Water” chorus is not only genius, but also catchy as hell. The fourth track “Parachute” is a mid tempo song that is the first time on this disc where you hear a hint of the original Train, while not the strongest offering it is a nice departure from the 3 pop tunes that kick off the record. “This Ain’t Goodbye” is a ballad that seems to blend the old & new sounds of the band. After those 2 songs changed the mood of the record, the next tune thrusts you right back into the forced pop that help break this band apart. “If It’s Love” is upbeat and catchy. But Pat is guilty of trying too hard to rhyme for the sake of rhyming. Lyrics like “the rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain”..and “I’m not in it to win it, im in it for you”…well, sophmoric may be too kind. “Words” and “Brick By Brick” once again return to mid tempo songs that focus on Pat’s incredible voice, which has always been one of this band’s strongest asset and sometimes gets lost when they revert to the talk/rap stylings. The last 2 songs on this disc are just plain bad.”Breakfest In Bed” and “Marry Me” should have been left on the shelf and only seen the light of day as obscure songs that never made the cut but are put on the “Box Set” when the time comes. Overall this is a good album and as I mentioned before the “highpoints” are great. One thing this disc is missing is guitarist Jimmy Stafford is held way too much in the background as, along with Pat’s great voice, his playing is a huge asset for this group.
Other Train on this blog: