Van Halen

V A N.. H A L E N
Van Halen burst onto the metal/hard rock scene in the late 70's after Gene Simmons (Kiss) "discovered" them playing in a club. In 1978 they released the groundbreaking self titled album and became on of the biggest arena bands in the world. After releasing six hugely successful studio records, vocalist and front man David Lee Roth split from the band to pursue a solo career. Sammy Hagar became their second vocalist and stayed with the band for many commercially successful years as well. Gary Cherone, formerly of Extreme, became the band's third vocalist but only recorded one CD with them as his style clashed with the band.

Van Halen Van Halen (Warner Bros.) 1978

1. Runnin' with the Devil (3:32)
2. Eruption [instrumental] (1:42)
3. You Really Got Me (2:37)
4. Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love (3:47)
5. I'm the One (3:44)
6. Jamie's Cryin' (3:30)
7. Atomic Punk (3:00)
8. Feel Your Love Tonight (3:40)
9. Little Dreamer (3:22)
10. Ice Cream Man (3:18)
11. On Fire (3:01)

Does anyone really need to read a review of this CD? I mean, it was only one of the most influential albums in the history of rock and heavy metal. Guitar playing, and heavy metal in general, would never be the same after this one. "Eruption" left jaws dropping all over the world in '78. Van Halen was a winning combination from the get go. The voice, charisma and character of David Lee Roth, the guitar antics of Eddie Van Halen, and the tight rhythm section of drummer Alex Van Halen and bassist Michael Anthony. Van Halen's debut takes listeners through a tour of the many spectrums of heavy rock n roll; from scorching metal tracks like "Atomic Punk","Ain't Talkin' 'bout Love", "I'm the One" and "On Fire" to rhythmic party rockers like "Running With the Devil" and "Jamie's Cryin'". On top of this we get Diamond Dave's first lounge rocker "Ice Cream Man", Eddie's smokin' guitar instrumental "Eruption" and the first of a long line of killer covers in the Kinks "You Really Got Me". Mix it all up with some of the best production and heaviest guitar tones to come out of the 70's, thanks to Ted Templeman, and you have yourself one of the greatest albums ever released. Gene Simmons sure picked a winner when he spotted Van Halen.

Stryper and Six Feet Under have covered "On Fire".

David Lee Roth
David Lee Roth

Van Halen II
Van Halen - II
(Warner Bros.) 1979

1. You're No Good (3:12)
2. Dance the Night Away (3:04)
3. Somebody Get Me a Doctor (2:51)
4. Bottoms Up! (3:04)
5. Outta Love Again (2:49)
6. Light Up the Sky (3:09)
7. Spanish Fly [instrumental] (:58)
8. D.O.A. (4:07)
9. Women in Love... (4:05)
10. Beautiful Girls (3:55)

Dance 7"
Dance the Night Away 7" single

Michael Anthony, Alex Van Halen, David Lee Roth Eddie Van Halen

Other than the annoying opening track, which happens to be a cover of a song that was a hit for Linda Ronstadt, the rest of this CD is prime Van Halen. "Dance the Night Away" became a huge hit for the band. From there on the album just rocks hard! I know that is cliché as can get, but it really is the best way to describe songs like "Somebody Get Me a Doctor," "Bottoms Up!," "Outta Love Again," "Light Up the Sky," and "D.O.A." David Lee Roth was the man in '79! Nobody could touch him for sheer, testosterone charged front man abilities and masculine vocals. (Actually, Ted Nugent was already doing most of his antics in the early 70's.) Eddie Van Halen blew the world away with his tap-on abilities on Van Halen's debut. On this follow-up we get the equally jaw dropping "Spanish Fly", an acoustic solo that is outstanding! He also lets loose on the opening to "Women In Love." It's also worth mentioning that this disc, as well as most of the Roth-era VH catalogue is only about 30 minutes long. While this may seem short, it also is a solid listen from beginning to end. No such thing as a filler on this album. VH would not learn the use of filler material until "Diver Down." Van Halen II didn't top the debut, but it came damn close!

Woman and Children First Van Halen - Women and Children First (Warner Bros.) 1980

1. And the Cradle Will Rock... (3:31)
2. Everybody Wants Some!! (5:05)
3. Fools (5:55)
4. "Romeo Delight (4:19)
5. Tora! Tora! [instrumental] (:57)
6. Loss of Control (2:36)
7. Take Your Whiskey Home (3:09)
8. Could This Be Magic? (3:08)
9. In a Simple Rhyme (4:33)

In an era when heavy music was being squashed by the newly emerging 'new wave movement' and the remains of disco, Van Halen rocked harder than most, and certainly harder than their contemporaries. In 1980, they stole the crown from bands like Kiss, who were dabbling with disco, Aerosmith who were to busy imploding and Led Zeppelin who were permanently grounded due to the death of John Bonham. Even band's like Judas Priest and the Scorpions were not yet well known in the U.S., which allowed Van Halen to take the heavy metal crown in '80. "Woman and Children First" is probably the most obscure of the David Lee Roth-era albums. However, this does not mean that it is a bad album. Rather, it just means that this album is less worn out from repeated radio play. There are a few radio hits on here, especially "Everybody Wants Some". However, for the most part these songs remain fresh and uncorrupted by FM radio. This one gives us plenty of heavy, meaty rockers like the appropriately titled "Loss of Control" or the melodic, classic "Everybody Wants Some." "Take Your Whiskey Home" manages to successfully mix bluegrass and heavy metal together to create another of Van Halen's classic tracks. I never did understand why this one wasn't a huge radio hit for the band. In any case, Woman and Children First is the third excellent disc in a row from Van Halen.

Annihilator recorded a cover of "Romeo Delight" on their self titled CD.

The First Defiance Van Halen - Fair Warning (Warner Bros.) 1981

1. Mean Street (4:55)
2. Dirty Movies (4:06)
3. Sinner's Swing (3:08)
4. Hear About It Later (4:33)
5. Unchained (3:27)
6. Push Comes to Shove (3:48)
7. So This Is Love? (3:05)
8. Sunday Afternoon In The Park [instrumental] (2:00)
9. One Foot Out The Door (1:56)

The last of Van Halen's 100% pure, smokin' heavy metal albums before their head-long dive into more pop terrains. There is nothing 'pop' about this one though. "Fair Warning" is pure, unadulterated heavy rock 'n roll. Tracks like "Mean Street", "Sinners Swing", "Unchained" and "So This Is Love?" all rock as hard, or harder, than anyone in 1981. I am also partial to the noisy instrumental "Sunday Afternoon in the Park". "Fair Warning" was Van Halen's fourth consecutive platinum album and it certainly wasn't their last either. It is still one of my favorites from the VH catalog three decades later.

Micheal Anthony & Eddie VanHalen
Michael Anthony & Eddie Van Halen

VH live!
David Lee Roth, Michael Anthony & Eddie Van Halen

Dive Down Van Halen - Diver Down (Warner Bros.) 1982

1. Where Have All the Good Times Gone? (3:04)
2. Hang 'Em High (3:28)
3. Cathedral (1:22)
4. Secrets (3:25)
5. Intruder (1:39)
6. Oh, Pretty Woman (2:55)
7. Dancing in the Street (3:45)
8. Little Guitars (Intro) (:42)
9. Little Guitars (3:48)
10. Big Bad Bill (2:45)
11. The Full Bug (3:21)
12. Happy Trails (1:05)
Pretty Woman
Pretty Woman b/w Happy Trails, 7" single

The Sex Pistol's put out their "Great Rock N Roll Swindle" album but to be quite honest, this album is the great rock 'n roll swindle. First of all this "album" is more like an EP. The entire album is only 30 minutes in length, which is only a little less than average for Roth-era VH albums. However, a song by song examination reveals that only about 1/3 of this CD is actual Van Halen songs, 1/3 are covers, and the other 1/3 is silly fluff consisting of jokes and guitar instrumentals. Of the original material, "Hang "Em High" is perhaps the best track with it heavy, rhythmic pulse and Diamond Dave's signature croon. Of the silly stuff, " Happy Trails" is an amusing way to end the album. Of the covers, Roy Orbison's "Oh, Pretty Woman" and the infectious "Dancing in the Street" are the most obvious choices. These songs actually helped propel this album and gave Van Halen several radio hits that are still played on rock radio today. The other notable thing about this disc is the band started to go in a more 'pop-rock' direction here, which was to be a forecast of what was to come. Overall, "Diver Down" is a weak CD in comparison to anything the band had written prior. The funny thing is, it sold like gangbusters! Go figure!

1984 Van Halen - 1984 (Warner Bros.) 1984

1. 1984 (1:07)
2 .Jump (4:04)
3. Panama (3:32)
4. Top Jimmy (3:02)
5. Drop Dead Legs (4:15)
6. Hot for Teacher (4:44)
7. I'll Wait (4:45)
8. Girl Gone Bad (4:35)
9. House of Pain (3:19)

Hot for Teacher
Van Halen "Hot for Teacher" promo 7" single

This was a HUGE album for Van Halen. AMG calls it "the best and most defining rock release of the '80s." Hmmm, I wouldn't go that far. It did, however, break Van Halen into new areas of pop with songs like "Jump" and the new-wavish "I'll Wait" which are more saturated in keyboards than Eddie's signature guitar crunch. "Panama", a slightly harder rocking number, was also a hit and is still a rock radio staple decades later. While their exploration into pop paid off for the band, it alienated me for a time. I just didn't care for it in a time when I was searching for heavier music and bands like Priest and Maiden were ruling the heavy metal scene. Despite this, there are still plenty of meaty rockers on this one in "Hot for Teacher," "Top Jimmy," "Drop Dead Legs," "Girl Gone Bad," and "House of Pain." Unfortunately, the album would be the last Van Halen recording to feature David Lee Roth, who left in 1985 at the height of the band's popularity to do his hugely successful solo album "Eat 'Em and Smile." Unfortunately for Dave, despite being hugely popular with his first couple solo records, his popularity would diminish over the years while Van Halen continued to reap popularity with Sammy Hagar behind the mic. Personally, I think that Van Halen ended with the loss of Roth. It just wasn't the same band anymore in my opinion.

Van Halen - 5150 (Warner Bros.) 1986

   1. Good Enough (4:00)
   2. Why Can't This Be Love (3:45)
   3. Get Up (4:35)
   4. Dreams (4:54)
   5. Summer Nights (5:04)
   6. Best of Both Worlds (4:49)
   7. Love Walks In (5:09)
   8. '5150' (5:44)
   9. Inside (5:02)

Exit David Lee Roth. With Dave gone, the wry sense of humor is also gone. Enter former Montrose vocalist Sammy Hagar, who has a very different approach and style than Roth. I can remember when this came out and people argued for countless hours whether Van Hagar could be successful. Well, indeed it was very successful. “5150” continued in the pop terrain that begun with “1984”, though the humor has been dropped for a slightly more serious formula. Eddie Van Halen had just recently been married and also became a father, which I am sure accounts for the change in direction, if not directly, at least indirectly. Also, Eddie fancied himself a keyboard player, which played into the more pop direction the band was continuing in. As such, Sammy Hagar seemed to be just the man for the job. Old school fans like myself were already disgruntled with the direction the band had taken, while the pop loving masses ate this stuff up. As such, I hated this album when it was released. Over time, I have come to loath this record less than when it was first released. There are some good hard rockers on this album, including "Get Up", "Summer Nights" and album opener "Good Enough". "Best of Both Worlds"  is a good pop rock song as well. Then there are the overplayed, keyboard saturated pop hits such as "Why Can't This Be Love", "Love Walks In" and the sugary-sweet ballad "Dreams".

Twenty some years later and Van Halen fans are still debating which is better, the Roth-era or the Hagar-era. Many fans claim that "5150" is the best album the band ever made. I completely disagree with this opinion and feel that the band never touched the greatness of those first four albums with Roth. Those albums helped transform heavy metal and hard rock in the late 70’s. With "5150", Van Halen just sort of blended in with all the other glammy, pop rock bands, even if they were at the top of that heap.

OU812 Van Halen - OU812 (Warner Bros.) 1988

1. Mine All Mine (5:11) 
2. When It's Love (5:36)
3. A.F.U. (Naturally Wired) (4:28)
4. Cabo Wabo (7:03)
5. Source of Infection (3:58)
6. Feels so Good (4:27)
7. Finish What Ya Started (4:20)
8. Black and Blue (5:24)
9. Sucker in a 3 Piece (5:52)
10. A Apolitical Blues (3:50)

"OU812" was suppose to be Van Halen's return to serious, guitar based, heavy rock and roll, after dabbling in keyboard laced, 80's pop with the last two albums. However, despite a slight return to a more axe-heavy emphasis, the album as a whole is still woefully overproduced, glossy and lacking the charisma that made those first four Van Halen albums so earth shattering. I suppose my big problem with Van Hagar is Sammy Hagar. While Hagar is a great vocalist in his own right, his voice is so distinct as the Red Rocker, that he robs Van Halen of their identity. Frankly, I just don't find him to be the frontman that David Lee Roth was, even if he is technically a better singer. There is a lot to be said for personality and distinction. Of course, Hagar isn't the only fault I find with Van Halen circa 1988. After all, he does have a fine set of pipes. The songs just don't have that grab you by the jugular viciousness that the band had in the past. Whereas Van Halen helped resurrect heavy metal and hard rock in the late 70's, with "OU812", they seem more content to make happy radio singles, such as the massive ballad "When It's Love". Of course this is the type of song that left rockers running for the hills, while the teenage girls just gushed with joy. However, "Mine All Mine" ain't half bad, and the Zep-ish rocker "A.F.U. (Naturally Wired)" and "Source of Infection" are actually pretty darned good. "Cabo Wabo" is a fan favorite as well, though the song sound more like a Sammy Hagar solo track than a Van Halen song. I also like the bluesy "Black & Blue". Bascially, I like this album, but I don't love it like I do those first four classics. I know it is just my opinion, but Van Halen sans David Lee Roth lost their warmth, soul and identity. Van Halen became just another corporate rock band in search of identity. It's unfortunate that Roth himself had a ton of warmth and identity, but without this band to back him, was just an identity in search of a band. (see review of "Skyscraper" also from '88.) (Thanks Vexer6)

For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge Van Halen - For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge (Warner Bros.) 1991

   1. Poundcake (5:22)
   2. Judgement Day (4:41)
   3. Spanked (4:53)
   4. Runaround (4:21)
   5. Pleasure Dome (6:57)
   6. In 'N' Out (6:05)
   7. Man on a Mission (5:04)
   8. The Dream is Over (4:00)
   9. Right Now (5:21)
  10. 316 [instrumental] (1:29)
  11. Top of the World (3:55)

I suppose it was just a matter of time before I added some Hagar-era Van Halen to my collection. Why did I start with "F.U.C.K." instead of "5150" or "OU812"? (By the way, the title was derived from the band's disgust with the whole Tipor Gore/PMRC censorship issue.) I actually thought that because it had less hits I might find more meat and potatoes hard rock, than on those more commercially sucessful albums. I've always been of the opinion that Van Halen started their downward spiral with "Diver Down" that continued on into horrific pop with "1984" and after that they never really recovered. Van Halen were one of the most awe-inspiring hard rock bands on the late 1970’s. The band turned the heavy metal world upside down with their first four albums. For some reason, the 80's saw Van Halen move into more radio-friendly terrain. Their edge was nearly lost with "1984", save for a handful of songs. When David Lee Roth split from the band, I felt yet another key ingredient was missing in the band's sound. Now they didn't have an edge, nor did they have their signature personality behind the mic. Dave's replacement Sammy Hagar was great with Montrose and had released some good solo material as well, so I totally understood why he was enlisted. However, with Van Halen, it was my opinion that Hagar just never quite fit in.

Overall, “For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge” is a fairly tame, hard rock album. There are a few radio hits here including "Right Now" and "Poundcake". Both songs have been beat into the psyche of any classic rock fan. There is no denying that "Right Now" is a catchy pop rock song with it's infectious piano opening and hooky shout-along chorus. "Poundcake" has a slight Led Zeppelin quality. As well, "In 'N' Out" is a catchy cut that has Eddie cranking out some sweet guitar solos. As the song title suggests, the lyrics are rather inane, but does anyone really look to Van Halen for thought provoking lyrics? Actually, that's where Dave came in. Though the lyrics were usually trite, Dave's personality and sense of humor made the songs come alive. That is not really the case here. "316" is the obligatory Van Halen instrumental, which in this case is a short, acoustic guitar piece. No one can deny that Eddie Van Halen is an incredible talent. The rest of the album isn't bad but doesn’t really do much to change my mind about Hagar-era Van Halen. "F.U.C.K" is a decent effort from Van Halen and probably their best from the Hagar era, however, it still doesn't hold a candle to the band's first four. Of course millions of fans completely disagree with me and this album sold incredibly well for the band.

Balance Van Halen - Balance (Warner Brothers) 1995

1. The Seventh Seal (5:18)
2. Can't Stop Loving You (4:08)
3. Don't Tell Me (What Love Can Do) (5:56)
4. Amsterdam (4:45)
5. Big Fat Money (3:57)
6. Strung Out [instrumental] (1:29)
7. Aftershock (5:13)
8. Not Enough (5:29)
9. Doin' Time [instrumental] (1:42)
10. Baluchitherium [instrumental] (4:05)
11. Take Me Back (Deja Vu) (4:43)
12. Feelin' (6:35)

"Balance" was Van Halen's tenth studio recording and would be the last studio album of all-new material to feature longtime vocalist Sammy Hagar. The album was originally slated to have been called "Seventh Seal". Van Halen fans will argue about this release until their blue in the face. Many fans feel it is one of the band's best with Sammy Hagar, while other feel it was a bit sluggish due to the lack of hit singles. Since hit singles don't mean jack squat to me, I actually find the album to be more enjoyable because it hasn't been played to death on the radio. Despite the lack of singles, the album still sold sell and landed a number one spot for a short spell on the Billboard charts in February of 1995.

Van Halen in the 90's abandons the keyboardy pop feel and overly slick production for the most part. With "Balance" the band attempts to show that they can still rock with songs like "Seventh Seal", "Amserdam" and "Big Fat Money". The later almost has a classic Van Halen feel to it. I found some of the more mid-paced tracks like "Don't Tell Me (What Love Can Do)" to be enjoyable as well. The song features a bluesy guitar solo from Eddie towards the end of the song. "Big Fat Money" even has a slightly jazzy jam going on. "Not Enough" is one of the ballads from this album, and once again, I find this to be much more enjoyable than some of the sugary ballads of the past like ""Dreams".

"Doin' Time" is an instrumental track, but instead of being an Eddie Van Halen guitar solo, it is instead an Alex Van Halen drum solo that acts as an introduction to the melodic, full band instrumental "Baluchitherium". Frankly, this song sounds like it should have vocals and sounds a bit unfinished, though not completely unenjoyable. From what I remember, the song was named after an extinct animal and was named as such by Eddie's then wife, Valerie Bertinelli. The other instrumental on the album, "Strung Out" is nothing more than a filler track, that is nothing more than recorded noises. Apparently, from what I have read on some Van Halen fan sites, the "song" was created by Eddie tapping various objects like forks, batteries and ping pong balls on an expensive piano that Eddie destroyed. He was forced to pay $15,000 for the damages to the piano and producer Bruce Fairbairn sad that it was too expensive of a recording to not include it on the album.

"Feelin'" finishes the album on a positive note. It is a minor-key, melodic and epic rock song with a string section and one of Hagar's finest vocal performances.

Of the Sammy Hagar era albums, I am one that actually finds "Balance" to be one of the more enjoyable. It is a bit uneven due to a couple of obvious filler tracks. Also, I still don't think "Balance" has the personality and charisma of those early David Lee Roth-era albums, but it's enjoyable nonetheless.

III Van Halen - III (Warner Bros.) 1998

1. New World [instrumental] (1:46)
2. Without You (6:30)
3. One I Want (5:31)
4. From Afar (5:24)
5. Dirty Water Dog (5:27)
6. Once (7:43)
7. Fire In The Hole (5:32)
8. Josephina (5:42)
9. Year To The Day (8:35)
10. Primary [instrumental] (1:27)
11. Ballot Or The Bullet (5:42)
12. How Many Say I (6:04)

I basically avoided listening to this CD for years. I was never a huge fan of Van Halen after Roth left to begin with, so Van Halen Mach 3 wasn't exactly on the top of my must buy list. Finally, over a decade after it's release I finally got around to seriously listening to it. Without all the hype surrounding the record, I listened with an open mind, hoping it would not be nearly as bad as fans and reviewers made it out to be. On the first spin, I immediately thought the short instrumental was an odd way to open the record, even if the song itself is somewhat innovative. Track two, however, peaked my interest. It actually gave me some hope that this album wouldn't be half bad. "Without You" is a guitar heavy track with a bit of groove and some nice wah-wah solo work from Eddie.

New vocalist Gary Charone (ex-Extreme) sounds as good as he ever has, in my opinion. He has a unique voice that is instantly reconizable, even if he does sound a bit like Sammy Hagar at times on this record. It's just unfortunate that the song writing just isn't up to snuff. There are a couple of songs I though weren't bad, including "Fire in the Hole" and the aforementioned "Without You". As well, the lengthy "Year to the Day" is a somewhat interesting track that builds and swells from mellow balladry to bluesy hard rock. "Ballet of the Bullet" sounds like it could have been an interesting track as well, but somehow doesn't quite measure up. I tried imagining David Lee Roth singing this track and wondered if perhaps it's just the pairing of Cherone and Van Halen that doesn't work. There may be some truth to that. Cherone's lyrical style is far and away different from the party lyrics that Van Halen are know for. Cherone brought mature lyrics of grace and of a positive attitude to the table. That's a big difference from the "reach down, between my legs and...." type lyrics the band is known for. However, I really don't think that Cherone is completely to blame for this album's failure. Overall, despite the more mature, slightly darker sound, the songs just aren't there. Other than the few songs I mentioned, the rest of the album smacks of filler and fluff. Frankly, I'd say it was just as much a problem of songwriting as it is the pairing of the new vocalist with the band.

After forcing myself to listen to this album a few times to see if it would be a grower or not, I think I tend to agree with the masses on this one. Van Halen III is only a shadow of what Van Halen use to be. There is neither the fire, energy or charisma of early Roth-era Van Halen nor is there the pop sensibility of later Hagar-era Van Halen. The whole thing just seems unfocused and missing that killer vibe. While there is something to be said about soldiering on, it's just too bad that pride and ego cannot be put aside so that the fire that was once present could be sparked once again.

A Different Kind of Truth Van Halen - A Different Kind of Truth (Interscope) 2012

1.      Tattoo (4:44)
2.      She's the Woman (2:56)
3.      You and Your Blues (3:43)
4.      China Town (3:14)
5.      Blood and Fire (4:26)
6.      Bullethead (2:30)
7.      As Is (4:47)
8.      Honeybabysweetiedoll (3:46)
9.      The Trouble with Neve (3:59)
10.     Outta Space (2:53)
11.     Stay Frosty (4:07)
12.     Big River (3:50)
13.     Beats Workin' (5:02)

"A Different Kind of Truth" is the album many fans have been screaming for ever since Dave exited the band decades ago. It is also the band's first new studio release in fourteen years.

Van Halen has been the epitome of Spinal Tap-style drama ever since Dave left the band to pursue a solo career in 1985. (or was in 1986?) Sammy Hagar joined the band and Van Halen continued to fill stadiums worldwide and sell records, though the sound changed fairly drastically from the hard rock and heavy metal they had been playing. Hagar stayed with Van Halen until 1996, and then left over creative differences with Eddie Van Halen. After Sammy's exit there was speculation about the band getting back together with David Lee Roth after the band made an appearance on the 1996 MTV Video Music Awards  and recorded a couple of new songs for a best of collection. Of course that turned into more drama and the band instead hired Extreme vocalist Gary Cherone. After the commercial failure of "Van Halen III" with Cherone, the band toured again with Sammy Hagar, which ended in more drama. Sammy took off to do some solo stuff, taking bassist Michael Anthony with him. Eventually the band reunited and tour with David Lee Roth, though Michael Anthony was replaced by Eddie Van Halen's son Wolfgang. The tour was successful, despite Anthony's absence, which brings us to the present and "A Different Kind of Truth".

From what I have read about this release prior to it's release, many of the songs included are reworked demoes that the band had recorded in the 1970's. Some fans were complaining about this and making claims like the band has no new ideas. Frankly, I don't care if the band uses old ideas as long as the music is good and the album is enjoyable. Fortunately, I think the band achieved this. "A Different Kind of Truth" is a guitar-heavy, hard rock album with many memorable songs, some nice guitar work and lyrics that are fairly typical of David Lee Roth.

"A Different King of Truth" is definitely the heaviest album the band has done since those first four classic albums in the late 70's and early 80'. "As Is" is one of the heavier tracks on the album and features one of those 'tap-on' guitar solos that Eddie helped popularize decades ago. There are several fast tempo songs on the album as well, including "China Town" and "Bullethead". Despite a more modern production, both songs sound like they could have been recorded for "Woman & Children First". "She's The Woman" and "Big River" sound like they could've been on VHII. Opening track "Tattoo" is the first single from the album, and probably the weakest track. It has a simple, catchy chorus, but overall isn't a real rocker like many of the other tracks. "Stay Frosty" is one of those fun, novelty tracks that Van Halen use to do on just about every album right up through "Diver Down". This track has a sort of "Ice Cream Man" vibe, though a bit heavier. As much as I railed against the band for doing too many novelty tracks on "Diver Down", it was refreshing to hear one here. Perhaps the track that surprised me the most was "Honeybabysweetiedoll". Despite the silly song title, this song is quite heavy and intriguing and has an experimental opening that sound like Eddie's using some sort of sustainer to get a nasty guitar squeal.

David Lee Roth is a charismatic personality moreso than a singer. With the right band behind him, he's just hard to ignore. Even though he's not nailing a lot of those high pitch vocals and screams this time around, he's still 'the man'. Unfortunately something is missing in some of the vocals without the presence of Micheal Anthony. Anthony's voice is as identifiable to Van Halen's sound as Alex's drums or Eddie's guitar. You hear those big harmonies and, "Ah, that's Van Halen." However, the band does make an attempt to layer the background vocals on songs like "The Trouble With Never", though not to the same success as they did with Anthony in the band. Overall, however, I quite enjoyed this Van Halen album, certainly moreso than any of the Hagar era albums and even more so than the keyboard saturated "1984". "A Different Kind of Truth" is a nice return to form.

Many rock 'n roll artists have specific demands about what food and drinks are placed in their dressing rooms before a show. Everything from liquor to orange juice bottles have been requested by different performers, but Van Halen's idiosyncratic request for no brown M&Ms may be the most famous. While it may be much more difficult to sort out brown M&Ms than to buy juice bottles for a band, years later David Lee Roth admitted the strange request was actually a test of a venue's attention to detail.

Related Collections:
David Lee Roth
Sammy Hagar