Archive for David Lee Roth

Great Metal Albums of 1984: Van Halen- 1984

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on March 12, 2017 by 80smetalman

History is the reason why I am beginning the journey through 1984 with Van Halen’s sixth album, which is also named after this same year. Going back to in time, minutes after the bells rang in 1984 as the new year, MTV started the year by playing the first single from the album, “Jump.” Like many a metalhead at the time, I wasn’t too sure about the large amount of keyboards used in the song. However, I didn’t think the song was bad and Eddie proved he knew his way around a keyboards almost as well as he does his guitar. That’s how the year started for me. I then proceeded to get rather sloppy drunk as you do on the new year.

After “Jump,” things go back to more traditional Van Halen territory, with one exception, which I’ll get to. “Panama” was also released as a single and I definitely like it more than “Jump.” Eddie works his magic with the guitar and David Lee Roth uses his mouth in the only way he knows. I’m not just talking about his singing either. I’ve always liked his talking bit in the middle of “Panama.” “I reached down and put the seat back.” It doesn’t translate well here in print but if you listen to the song, you’ll see what I mean.

“Top Jimmy” and “Drop Dead Legs” are both good songs and I like the little guitar bits done on both songs. However, whenever I hear “Drop Dead Legs,” my mind immediately goes to when I heard the song used in an episode of “Family Guy.” For those who don’t know, it’s the episode where Brian and Stewie travel to a parallel universe and find a world where Meg is hot.

Drop Dead Legs played to this scene

Another good thing about both of those songs is that they lead beautifully to my favourite song on the album, “Hot for Teacher.” Every thing you loved about Van Halen is found on this song. Roth’s little quips between the verses and don’t forget, he can sing some too. Eddie plays the longest solo of all the songs on the album and very well too and of course we can never forget the rhythm section of Michael Anthony and Alex Van Halen. While these two remain tight on the whole album, they seem especially so on “Hot forTeacher.”

After my favourite song comes the other exception. “I’ll Wait” is another keyboard dominated song but I never disliked it. If Van Halen had been making albums in the 1970s, many people would have used this song to label them a progressive rock band. Still, Eddie plays a decent solo on it. “I’ll Wait” leads the way for the album to go out on the good foot. I do like the intro on “Girl Gone Bad” and “House of Pain” is a suitable closer. For me, though I hadn’t listened to “Diver Down” at the time, I still drew the conclusion that “1984” was three steps up from it. Now that I have listened to that album, I will stay say that this one is the better album.

Track Listing:

  1. 1984
  2. Jump
  3. Panama
  4. Top Jimmy
  5. Drop Dead Legs
  6. Hot for Teacher
  7. I’ll Wait
  8. Girl Gone Bad
  9. House of Pain

Van Halen

David Lee Roth- lead vocals

Eddie Van Halen- guitar, keyboards, backing vocals

Michael Anthony- bass, backing vocals

Alex Van Halen- drums, backing vocals

This was how my 1984 began. There aren’t too many better ways to ring in a new year but what I do know now is that Van Halen’s “1984” opened the port hole to all the great music that would come our way in this year.

Next post: U2- Under a Blood Red Sky

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Great Metal Albums of 1982: Van Halen- Diver Down

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on September 16, 2015 by 80smetalman

Van_Halen_-_Diver_Down.svg

It was while on liberty in Toulon, France that I saw Van Halen’s fifth album in a record store there. I made a mental note about buying it then one of my marine buddies actually did. After giving “Diver Down” a listen, he proclaimed that the album sucked and had another person corroborate his feelings on it. That was enough to put me off buying it. Furthermore, when returning to the US two months later, hearing the first single, “Pretty Woman” didn’t inspire me with confidence and neither did the follow up single, “Dancing in the Street.” In fact, those songs gave me the impression that Van Halen had given up song writing and were simply getting by covering other’s songs. Then about a year later, I heard “Happy Trails” on a bar’s juke box and thought, “Now I’m definitely not going to buy this.” So, last Sunday night was the first time ever, that I listened to the full album.

Let me say that “Diver Down” doesn’t suck. However, it’s not as good as their previous four albums either. One thing I noticed and I wished I knew back then not to trust a song played on commercial radio, is that the radio version “Dancing in the Street” had much of Eddie’s guitar solo removed and that’s a shame. I think that song has his best solo on the album. While it may not be as good as it’s predecessor’s, there are some glimpses of what made Van Halen great in the early 80s. The first two tracks had me thinking that maybe this album wasn’t going to be as bad as I first imagined. There are three instrumentals on the album, nothing like “Eruption” but “Cathedral” is quite good. “The Full Bug” is a good one towards the end and it could have been the closer but now that I see that “Happy Trails” is at the end, I think that maybe they were trying to go out with a sense of humour so I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt on that one.

As for the band, David Lee Roth’s vocals are just as good and he stamps his personality on the album. Then again, his ego couldn’t be ignored and his limited vocal ability fits in well with the songs. As usual, Eddie has spots where his guitar work shines, it’s just unfortunate that there isn’t a cool solo with every song. Needless to say but the rhythm section of Alex and Michael is as solid as the other albums no faulting that. So, my verdict is that “Diver Down” is not bad. It would be even better if they had not included “Big Bad Bill (Is Sweet William Now.)” A totally unnecessary song in my view.

Track Listing:

  1. Where Have all the Good Times Gone
  2. Hang’ em High
  3.  Cathedral
  4. Secrets
  5. Intruder
  6. Pretty Woman
  7. Dancing in the Street
  8. Little Guitars (instrumental)
  9. Little Guitars
  10. Big Bad Bill (Is Sweet William Now)
  11. The Full Bug
  12. Happy Trails
Van Halen

Van Halen

David Lee Roth- vocals, synthesizer, harmonica, acoustic guitar on The Full Bug

Eddie Van Halen- guitars, backing vocals

Michael Anthony- bass, backing vocals

Alex Van Halen- drums

If I had ignored my buddy thirty three years ago and had bought “Diver Down,” it would have gone into my rotation. I listen to albums in a strict order, don’t ask. I wouldn’t have listened to it once and then forgotten it. However, when I did listen to it, it wouldn’t have been with the same enthusiasm as the first four Van Halen albums.

Next post: Loudness- Devil Soldier

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Great Metal Albums of 1981: Van Halen- Fair Warning

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 15, 2014 by 80smetalman

220px-Van_Halen_-_Fair_Warning

New Wave of British Heavy Metal (NWOBHM) may have reigned supreme in 1981 but it didn’t mean that American metal was muted in that year and that was largely due to Van Halen’s fourth album, “Fair Warning.” For some people at the time, this album was supposed to be a redemption for Van Halen after their supposedly disappointing “Women and Children First” album. (I wasn’t disappointed with that album.) I will also agree with the critic who said that “Fair Warning” was a little better than the previous album but since neither album was as bad as some of these ‘critics’ made them out to be, I will have to say that they are both great albums. However, I will also state that neither quite makes it to the level of their first two, but come on, Van Halen I and II will always be at a level many albums will never attain so let’s give “Fair Warning” credit where it’s due.

From the opening notes in “Mean Street,” it was crystal clear that Eddie Van Halen shows why he was the ultimate guitar master in the early 80s.  The album takes you down a smooth road of great music, especially during the first five tracks reminding you why Van Halen held the flag for American metal. “Dirty Movies” and “Hear About it Later” stick their heads above the rest here with the former showing there is a sense of humour behind the metal. For years, I thought that song was called “Bitches of the Silver Screen.” I saw a video of the latter song played live and that completely blew me away. The acoustic intro quickly followed by the powerful rhythm of guitar, bass and drum, with some interesting guitar riffs thrown in around the vocals before cascading into a well played EVH guitar solo. There is little wonder why it’s my favourite song on the album. “Unchained” is more of a traditional Van Halen single but it still rocks while the rest of the album, while maybe not quite as mind blowing as the first five songs is still powerful enough to leave the listener contented once it has finished.

Track Listing:

1. Mean Street

2. Dirty Movies

3. Sinner’s Swing

4. Hear About it Later

5. Unchained

6. Push Comes to Shove

7. So This is Love

8. Sunday Afternoon in the Park

9. One Foot Out the Door

Van Halen

Van Halen

David Lee Roth- vocals

Eddie Van Halen- guitar, backing vocals

Michael Anthony- bass, backing vocals

Alex Van Halen- drums

In a year when Britannia ruled the heavy metal waves, it was good to see that the guns of American metal didn’t remain silent. I have always said that both countries have always benefited from exchange of heavy metal. Van Halen showed they were still a major player in the game with “Fair Warning.”

Next post: The Plasmatics- Valley of the 1984

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Great Rock Albums of 1981: The Pretenders II

Posted in 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on May 25, 2014 by 80smetalman

220px-Tppii

Maybe they thought that because it worked for Van Halen, it would work for them. That is having their first album self-titled and then calling their second one “II.” Whatever the motivation, that is exactly what The Pretenders did. Now my weird imagination has me speculating the result of David Lee Roth and Chrissie Hynde having a child together. Strange yes, but he or she would probably have a great singing voice and know how to work an audience. Anyway, let’s put my imagination back in the closet and focus on the album at hand. One thing I can say about this second album from The Pretenders is like Van Halen and even Boston, the second album follows on nicely from the first and like the other two bands, if the first two albums were available as a single pack, I would buy it.

Like I said, Pretenders II follows on very nicely from Pretenders I. That first album breathed a fresh air of new wave music into the scene in 1980 and it seems that since that worked so well for them a year earlier, they would follow suit with this one. I have to say that it works very well. Hynde’s vocals are in fine form on each song on the album and the rest of the band gives their full support. There are a few well timed guitar solos from James Honeyman-Scott although I’m not going to add him with some of the greats. What surprised me when I explored the background to the album was although the song I am most familiar with, “Talk of the Town,” was released as a single, it doesn’t seemed to have charted. The one single that did was “The Adultress,” which made it to number 12. Another reason I never paid too much attention to the Top 40 charts, I suppose, although I wouldn’t take anything away from “The Adultress” because it is a fine song. Other tracks that really stand out for me are “Day After Day” and “Birds of Paradise.” Another amusing point is I, like many other people, thought the final track, “Louie Louie” was going to be a cover of the sixties classic. Now normally when I a song doesn’t sound like I expect it to, I dislike it out of sheer disappointment but that closing track doesn’t disappoint, it’s a decent closer.

Track Listing:

1. The Adultress

2. Bad Boys Get Spanked

3. Message of Love

4. I Go to Sleep

5. Birds of Paradise

6. Talk of the Town

7. Pack It Up

8. Waste Not, Want Not

9. Day After Day

10. Jealous Dogs

11. The English Roses

12. Louie Louie

The Pretenders

The Pretenders

Chrissie Hynde- lead vocals, guitar

James Honeyman-Scott- lead guitar, keyboards, backing vocals

Pete Farndon- bass, backing vocals

Martin Chambers- drums, backing vocals

In 1980, The Pretenders brought a fresh sound to music and in 1981, followed it up with a good second album. It has been argued back then that part of the success of this album was down to disco finally being laid to rest in 1981. There may be some truth in that but it only proves to me that while some genres come and go, rock and roll will never die. The Pretenders spear headed the influx of new wave that would come to light in the early 80s.

Next post: Stevie Nicks- Belladonna

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Great Metal Albums of 1980: Van Halen- Women and Children First

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on November 17, 2013 by 80smetalman

220px-Van_Halen_-_Women_and_Children_First

Another offering from the American side of heavy metal came in the form of the third album from Van Halen. (Although you could say that this was a Dutch-American collaboration since the Van Halen brothers were originally from the Netherlands.) Still what we got in 1980 was “Women and Children First.” Now, my alternate mindset is hearing some collective scoffs and sighs from some of you and I know why. In comparison to Van Halen’s first two albums, this one doesn’t compare. However, if you can divorce yourself from those iconic first two albums and look at “Women and Children First” on its own, you may find that it’s really not that bad of an album.

For me, the two best tracks are the first two songs on the album: “And the Cradle Will Rock” and “Everybody Wants Some,” the latter being a concert favourite for several albums after. The former song was the one stuck in my mind for most of my first tour of sea duty and it helped get me through it. The spoken David Lee Roth part of the latter: “I like the way the line runs up the back of your stocking” amuses me to this day. While they may be the two strongest tracks, the album doesn’t end there. The next song, “Fools” begins with the traditional guitar work that made Eddie Van Halen the principal guitarist back then. The next track “Romeo’s Delight” reminds of some of the classic rockers that we got from the first two albums and continues through the next two tracks. While “Take Your Whiskey Home” seems to be an attempt to re-create my all time favourite Van Halen song, “Ice Cream Man,” it’s still a good jam. However, and this is where things fall down, in my view. The acoustic track “Could This Be Magic?” where the only female singer ever let on a Van Halen album, Nicolette Larson, provides backing vocals. I love a good acoustic jam but this song had me asking myself: “Are they taking the p*ss here?” Still one questionable track does not make a bad album and it redeems itself with the closing song.

In short, except for that one possible track, there is nothing for me to dislike on “Women and Children First.” David Lee Roth sings to his capabilities, Eddie shows the world that he still has a trick or two up his sleeve on the guitar, and Alex Van Halen and Michael Anthony still prove why many people back then considered them to be the best rhythm section around at the time.

Track Listing:

1. And The Cradle Will Rock

2. Everybody Wants Some

3. Fools

4. Romeo’s Delight

5. Tora Tora!

6. Loss of Control

7. Take Your Whiskey Home

8. Could This Be Magic?

9. In a Simple Rhyme

10. Growth (Hidden track)

Van Halen

Van Halen

   David Lee Roth- lead vocals

Eddie Van Halen- guitars, backing vocals

Michael Anthony- bass, backing vocals

Alex Van Halen- drums

It is tough for any act to follow up on a great album so imagine how difficult it is two follow up on two. With “Women and Children First,” Van Halen make a valiant effort and while it may night reach the dizzy heights of the first two, it is still a good album and should be seen as such.

Next post: Saxon- Wheels of Steel

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Great Rock Albums of 1979: Gillian- Mr Universe

Posted in 1979, Heavy Metal, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on November 1, 2012 by 80smetalman

For me, after he left Deep Purple, Ian Gillian kind of dropped off my radar throughout the rest of the 1970’s. This is mainly owing to the fact that none of Gillian’s songs ever got played on that old AM clock radio of mine. Therefore, this is yet another album that I listened to after the fact. What I know now that I didn’t know back then was that Gillian continued to rock on with his own band for the rest of the decade and was very successful in the UK.

Listening to “Mr Universe,” I get the feeling there’s a similar sound to the Deep Purple reunion album “Perfect Strangers.” The sound is more keyboard oriented but there is nothing wrong with that on this album. However, I do like the more rockier tracks “Vengeance” and “Puget Sound” as they have more harder sound. Furthermore, the guitar work of Bernie Torme, someone I would eventually come across when I got to London in 1986, is more present on those tracks. The other tracks are in no ways weak and all together this is a fine album.

Track Listing:

1. Second Sight

2. Secret of the Dance

3. She Tears Me Down

4. Roller

5. Mr Universe

6. Vengeance

7. Puget Sound

8. Dead of the Night

9. Message in a Bottle

10. Fighting Man

Gillian

Ian Gillian- vocals, harmonica

Bernie Torme- guitar

Colin Towns- keyboards, flute

John McCoy- bass

Mick Underwood- drums

Ian Gillian has always been one of my favourite vocalists and I will forever be blown away when I heard him sing “A Child in Time” live. His vocals are no less formidable on “Mr Universe.” One thing that has been said of singers who surround themselves with good musicians is that they do so to compensate for their limited vocal ability. Yeah, that’s certainly true with Jedward and some say it about David Lee Roth. However, Ian Gillian is not the case and his vocals and band has me wondering why I never heard of them in the US back then.

Next post: Pat Benatar- In the Heat of the Night

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