For a band like the Foo Fighters, with five studio albums, a live (acoustic) recording, and a slew of CD singles with bonus tracks and various covers to their name, it shouldn’t be too daunting a task to compile an inspired list of deep cuts. Or so I thought. The trick here is all those damned CD singles. For a band that came up in the post-radio single generation, the Foos sure have managed to chalk up their share. Who knew that "DOA", an oft-overlooked album track from 2005’s In Your Honor was a single? Likewise with "Have It All" from 2002’s landmark One By One, a disc that certainly produced its share of well-known singles. Visiting each of the studio recordings, as well as a handful of the single (B-sides, if such a thing still exists?) and covers, here is as comprehensive an offering of Foo Fighters deep cuts as most could hope to find.
"Alone + Easy Target" – Foo Fighters
Pat Smear’s distorted guitar rings out on the debut, just a few months removed from the fall of Nirvana. Much of the first disc sounds like Nirvana outtakes, but some – like "Alone and Easy Target" – do Cobain and the boys one better.
"Floaty" – Foo Fighters
Incorporating a rare acoustic guitar jangle for its intro, "Floaty" stays true to the early Foos formula of unidentifiable lyrics and song titles pulled from thin air.
"For All the Cows" – Foo Fighters
Sounding more like a Vegas lounge act here, Dave Grohl shows that red-faced, teary-eyed shrieks are not the only way to deliver a nice melody.
"Ozone" – "Big
The band tackles a little-known Ace Frehley cut and leaves the original in the dust. While Grohl sounds just like Frehley on the vocals, it’s Smear’s retro Jimmy Page-like guitar that lands this one on the list.
"Hey, Johnny Park!" – The
Colour and the Shape
If you’ve got anything left after the greatest three minutes and 50 seconds of the Foo Fighters career ("Monkey Wrench"), The Colour and the Shape packs this gem amidst a slug of radio hits and fan favorites. "Johnny Park" still comes out to play many a nights on the road, almost a decade later.
"Up in Arms" – The Colour and the Shape
When it begins, you’ll think it’s spinning at half speed on an old record player. Then "Up in Arms" kicks a minute in and provides a rollicking free ride across huge guitar hooks. At least here you can make out the words to a pretty effective love song.
"New Way Home" – The Colour and the Shape
The album closer on Colour and Shape, "New Way Home" has a bubbly, almost Beach Boys feel to it. Of course, Brian Wilson never knew such a rib cage-pounding rhythm section as Nate Mendel and Taylor Hawkins.
"Gimme Stitches" – There
Is Nothing Left to Lose
Nothing Left to Lose gave the Foos their biggest chart hit in "Learn to Fly" (not to mention one of the funniest videos of the past ten years), as well as the unexpectedly successful soundtrack cut "Breakout" (Me, Myself & Irene). But it’s the lesser-known tracks like "Gimme Stitches" that really make this 1999 release. That, and…
"M.I.A." – There Is Nothing Left to Lose
"You won’t find me, I’m going MIA / Tonight I’m leaving, going MIA / Getting lost in you again is better than being numb." Dave Grohl is such a tender badass!
"Ain’t It the Life" – There Is Nothing Left to Lose
Not to get all wimpy, but the final two tracks on Nothing Left to Lose are pretty soft, though every bit as potent as the hair-raising riff-happy stuff in the first nine songs. I love the ‘70s slide guitar here, a la America.
"Low" – One
The guitars and drums at the beginning of this song sound like machine gun fire. "Screws inside, turned so tight, turn it on you, I’ll hang it on you," Grohl offers, recalling one of Johnny Cash’s best concert speeches (South by Southwest festival, 1994).
"Halo" – One by One
"Halo" is the kind of deep album track that made One By One the career-defining record many consider it to be for the Foos. Within an album of standout radio songs like "All My Life" and "Times Like These", this lick will stand as one of the great yet underrated entries in their vast catalog.
"Burn Away" – One by One
Every bit as loud, but played at a more measured pace than most predecessors, "Burn Away" works on the same level as the early hit "My Hero".
"Life of Illusion" – "Times
Like These" single
Just a brilliant cover of the Joe Walsh classic, appearing on the 2003 CD single for "Times Like These". It’s a Japanese import, though, so good luck tracking it down!
"The Last Song" – In
Taylor Hawkins’ gonzo drum part sets this cut apart from the body of 2005’s In Your Honor. It goes to show that these guys really did wanna rock on this record. So why the pansy-assed second disc of acoustic crap?
"Cold Day in the Sun" – In Your Honor
Okay, there are a couple of redeeming moments on Honor’s second disc. "Cold Day" features Taylor Hawkins on vocals, and if you’ve heard his ill-advised solo outing with the Tailcoat Riders, then you’ll appreciate it that much more.
"I Feel Free" – "DOA" single
They flat nail the hand claps and barber shop quartet "Bah, bah, bah". As such, the Foo’s cover of the Cream classic is a worthy inclusion tacked onto the single for last year’s "DOA."