RCA - 2002 - 55 minutes

Three albums of 2002 with one thing in common: Dave Grohl. His work behind the drums on Queens of the Stone Age's 'Songs for the Deaf' saw him get down and dirty with the best of them, the upcoming Nirvana compilation showcases his past and just how far he's come from it and 'One by One' finds his present leading to the brightest future imaginable.

Grohl's talent as a tunesmith since the release of the first Foo Fighters album seven years ago has been a revelation. Over three albums he and his bandmates created some of the most memorable US rock songs of the 90s with no other outfit having a salvo like 'This is a Call', 'I'll Stick Around', 'Monkey Wrench', 'Everlong' and 'Learning to Fly' to throw at an audience. Now comes 'One by One' and another bunch of tracks that can be added to the list.

It may be three years since the last Foo's album, but the songs here were all nailed down in three weeks after months of recording sessions were scrapped. And yet it all sounds so easy. On the likes of 'All My Life', 'Low' 'Times Like These' and 'Burn Away', Grohl and co find the middle ground between polish and power over and over again with the sense of urgency and uplift running through the whole record.

But while Grohl's ability to strum and bang has always been the focus (and the playing from everyone here is superb) his lyrics also deserve to be brought to the fore. This is an album which literally wears its heart on thesleeve, as he plots the right ways and runarounds of relationships. Grohl says he hates writing lyrics but few can sound like a realist who's convinced that best is just around the corner. The only letdown is 'Tired of You', a broody song for a far darker album - but perhaps the frontman will want to make when he walks away from the smiling sweaty hordes he'll play to with this one.

In the meantime, and after all the hassles Grohl has dealt with over the past 15 months, 'One By One' is a triumph - and then some. It seems inevitable that it will be forced to step sidestage with the imminent release of the Nirvana album, but the more you listen the more you'll feel that nothing, no matter how stellar, should get in the way of what has been achieved here.

Harry Guerin

Tracklisting: All My Life - Low - Have it All - Times Likes These -Disenchanted Lullaby - Tired - Halo - Lonely As You - Overdrive - Burn Away - Come Back