Great Metal Albums of 1986: David Lee Roth- Eat’Em and Smile


David Lee Roth’s “Eat’em and Smile” gets the 80smetalman award for the funnest album of 1986. This was an album that kick-started many a party and was just a great listen when driving in the car. Not the manic power chords I was normally getting my ears pounded by but all the ingredients of a good metal album are all there. Plus, the best thing about it was that, for me, it was a very uncomplicated album. Just listen and enjoy.

The smartest move Dave made when making this album was to get a magnificent band behind him, especially the strings section comprising of Billy Sheehan on bass and Steve Vai on guitar. Both of these men brought their impressive reputations and talents with them. I was already familiar with Vai’s guitar work with Frank Zappa and he produces the same great work for Dave. He does belt out more than a couple of great guitar solos. However, he  also provides guitar hooks galore on all the songs, which in themselves, make the album so brilliant. As for Billy, I had seen him plastered over many a rock magazine in the year leading up to this album and when I first listened to it, I did so with the idea of determining if his talents lived up to the hype. They most certainly do. Additionally, he and drummer Greg Bissonette make a formidable rhythm section.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a David Lee Roth album without Diamond Dave. His charisma and vocal talents are all over the album. Dave is the main reason why “Eat’em and Smile” is such a fine album. It’s almost as if he was taking full advantage of the freedom of being on his own.

As for the songs, normally, I tend not to pick the big single from any album as my favorite track but “Yankee Rose” is just too good to be anything else in my eyes. The zany video on MTV which first introduced me to the song had a lot to do with it. Furthermore, another track released as a single, “Goin’ Crazy” is another track which stands out. Maybe Dave or the record company was thinking of me when they released them as singles. But don’t worry, there is a hidden gem and for me, that is “Elephant Gun” with “Big Trouble” coming a close second. No matter what song you pick, there is not one here I would call filler on this fantastic album.

Track Listing:

  1. Yankee Rose
  2. Shy Boy
  3. I’m Easy
  4. Ladies Night in Buffalo
  5. Goin’ Crazy
  6. Tobacco Road
  7. Elephant Gun
  8. Big Trouble
  9. Bump and Grind
  10. That’s Life

David Lee Roth

dlr band

David Lee Roth and band

David Lee Roth- vocals

Steve Vai- guitar, horn arrangement on track 3

Billy Sheehan- bass, backing vocals

Greg Bissonett- drums, backing vocals on track 3

Additional Musicians

Jeff Bova- keyboards, track 1

Jesse Harms- keyboards, track 5

Sammy Figueroa- percussion, track 5

The Walters Family- backing vocals track 10

The Sydney Sharp Strings- strings on track 10

Jimmie Haskell- horn and strings arrangement, track 10

 Tempted to make another Steve Lukather joke here.

The biggest effect Dave’s “Eat’em and Smile” album had on the music world was to fan the flames of the Roth v Van Halen debate. Debates would take place all over the world in 1986 and beyond as to which was the better album between this one and Van Halen’s “5105.” From my perspective, it was advantage Roth.

Next post: King Kobra- Thrill of a Lifetime

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17 Responses to “Great Metal Albums of 1986: David Lee Roth- Eat’Em and Smile”

  1. Yes! This is one of my favourite albums… a blast from start to finish. I’ve suggested before elsewhere that not only did DLR have someone to rival Van Halen’s guitar chops, but this album is more consistent than any Van Halen album (DLR or Sammy era). Ladies Night in Buffalo is my favourite, but I don’t think there’s a bad song here.

    Liked by 3 people

    • There isn’t a bad song on the album. Back in the day,there were lots of arguments over who was the better guitarist between Vai and Van Halen. There were even debates on who was better on bass between Michael Anthony and Billy Sheehan.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Superb album! I do like 5150 but this blows it away. Advantage Roth for me too.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. This was a huge album back in the day. I found it to be better than 5150 hands down. It also brings back a high school memory where in Beta club we had new recruits and during initiation week, I made my pledge dress up as the cannibal from the album cover. He did a great job and it was pretty spot on.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Amazing album from start to finish with a good vibe throughout. Still have it on vinyl and played it to death in the car on cassette.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I don’ t know him

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Wow! I definitely remember the song, “Yankee Rose”! It was one of my favorites!

    Liked by 1 person

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