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Beat of the Day

While we’re in the Eighties, here goes one of my favorites from those fun-lovin’ sombitches, Van Halen:

I was never a huge Van Halen head like some of my friends but their David Lee Roth records bring me back to middle school, and dag, a lot of those records really kicked ass. Still do, though Eddie’s guitar playing style sounds dated to me now. Can’t believe anyone would prefer Van Hagar to the original. Once they parted ways with Diamond Dave, they didn’t have the same magic.

Aw, hell, here’s another one that always makes me smile:

Categories:  Beat of the Day  Bronx Banter

Tags:  hot for teacher  unchained  van halen

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1 Cliff Corcoran   ~  Aug 20, 2010 10:11 am

Oh hells yeah. The DLR records tended to be too short and still contain filler, but they were still good for about five flat-out kick-ass, riff-tastic, rockers each and they put out a record every year from '78-'83, the first and last of which are must-have classics.

Van Hagar was a different band, but they had crazy pop hooks and still had those Eddie solos. I enjoy most of the Hagar records in their own way, but more in the way I still enjoy some of Phil Collins' hits or other such '80s music based on a combination of hooks, nostalgia, and some solid studio/session work than in the way I borderline-worship the best of the Roth material, which was exciting and electric and now, to me, seems timeless.

2 Alex Belth   ~  Aug 20, 2010 10:23 am

I remember when 1984 came out, my friends I and bought dry ice for our 7th grade dance. The experiment failed and we spent most of the night jumping off the bleachers in the gym pretending to be DLR.

3 bp1   ~  Aug 20, 2010 10:29 am

Gotta agree w/ you on this one, Cliff. VH post DLR was a different band and, to me, not nearly as good. The edge was gone. Diver Down was the last of the great VH records, imho.

4 Diane Firstman   ~  Aug 20, 2010 10:38 am

My tribute to the solo career DLR was to pen a parody of Just a Gigolo titled "Just Rob Picciolo"

He's just Rob Picciolo
and everywhere he goes
people wonder why he's playing
bobbles every ball, running ... often falls
ooh, what they're saying

there will come a day ..
when Rob will pass away
what will they say about him
with his B.A. so low,
they had to let him go
life goes on without him ... cause

he ... ain't got no talent ...

(etc etc etc)

5 Toxic   ~  Aug 20, 2010 10:38 am

Mmmm drop-D and flanger, Unchained is a classic and Fair Warning now that's a top notch album, though of course not as great as the début.

6 Jon DeRosa   ~  Aug 20, 2010 10:40 am

i saw "hot tub time machine" last night - so this is a welcome continuation of the theme...

end credits, w/ rob corddry inserting himself into the "motley lue" video was inspired.

7 The Hawk   ~  Aug 20, 2010 11:38 am

Both these songs are so ****ing good. Though I am still wrestling with the "spoken word" passage in "Unchained"/

Completely different band with Hagar. I think the record company advised them to change the name and they should have. Roth is a tool, but also the magic sauce.

[1] Really spot-on assessment of the Roth years. I'm actually a relatively new fan of Van Halen in the sense of getting their albums - I think it has a lot to do with the availability of cheap (and by cheap I mean not much money and crappy quality) vinyl. It's crazy how short the albums are and the filler quotient is high. But it's spirited filler, which I'll usually prefer over the workman-like dullness that makes up much of the Hagar era.

8 Alex Belth   ~  Aug 20, 2010 11:42 am

Hey, they covered Emmet Miller how bad can they be? And their version of Big Bad Bill is so much fun!

9 Cliff Corcoran   ~  Aug 20, 2010 12:21 pm

[3] Diver Down? That was the worst of the Roth records, in my opinion, too many covers and instrumentals. 1984, however, remains my favorite, even over the debut. That might be a product of my age, but '84 is no worse than the second-best DLR record. The only "filler" track on it is the synth-based intro and the rest is all the band at its best.

10 Shaun P.   ~  Aug 20, 2010 1:53 pm

Someone has to stick up for the Van Hagar years!

The old VH that gets played on the radio is fine stuff, and Jump might be my favorite VH song (my son asks me to sing a verse to him everynight before he goes to sleep; not exactly Braham's Lullabye, but it works). But some of the other stuff . . . ugh. Filler indeed. There was better quantity and quality, I think, on the Van Hagar records.

Better songwriting, more melodic stuff, and still plenty of hard riffs once you get away from the more pop-sounding 5150 and OU812, and into (the IMHO far superior) For Unlawful Carnel Knowledge, Right Here Right Now Live, and Balance.

Of course, this might all be influenced by my own experience with the bad, which was the opposite of Cliff's [1] - I didn't really get in to VH until just before 5150 came out, so I view the Hagar years album as the "wow". I didn't really "discover" the DLR stuff until later, and the only explosive stuff to me was Eddie's original guitar work. Its possible, if it had happened the other way around, I might feel differently.

Old Diamond Dave was quite the showman, but make mine Sammy, please.

11 Shaun P.   ~  Aug 20, 2010 1:54 pm

And to complete the discussion: I also hold a bit of fondness for the Gary Cherone year(s) and the all-but-forgotten VH3 album. It has its moments. I recommend it if you've never heard it.

12 bp1   ~  Aug 20, 2010 2:07 pm

[9] Geez, I dunno. Cathedral and Secrets is pretty cool. Little Guitars is awesome. Where Have All the Good Times Gone. Pretty Woman was a killer cover. I dunno. I always liked the vibe of that album, but that could be related to the fact it was the first album I ever heard on a real killer stereo, and also the tour I saw VH at the Carrier Down.

It sounded good - very well made I thought.

Anyway ....

I wasn't a 1984 fan. I thought they "jumped the shark" at that point and it was all downhill.

13 Alex Belth   ~  Aug 20, 2010 2:36 pm

I like a few songs on 1984 but I think that was the jump the shark moment. My wife, on the other hand, LOVES that record. What the hell do I know?

14 Cliff Corcoran   ~  Aug 20, 2010 2:49 pm

Man, what about 1984 was a jump the shark thing? The synths? Like "Jump" and "I'll Wait" aren't freaking awesome tunes anyway? And Eddie started doing synth stuff on Fair Warning.

Wow, I just don't get that. And the less said about Shaun's comments, the better. I can appreciate the Sammy records in their own way (though even there, I think 5150 is the best of that lot, and the live album I cannot defend), but the Gary Cherone record?! Dude . . .

[12] There's some high-quality stuff on Diver Down to be sure, but it always felt like a long EP to me rather than a proper album. There are 12 tracks on that album and only four are proper new songs by the group. The others are five covers and three instrumentals/transitions.

15 Shaun P.   ~  Aug 20, 2010 3:10 pm

[14] So I shouldn't mention that, in 1998, I paid actual U.S legal tender to see the Cherone-singing version of Van Halen, from the second row? ;)

Cherone and the boys were fine - I've heard much worse - but to hear him singing "Jump" is among the 5 strangest and most uncomfortable moments of my life.

16 Shaun P.   ~  Aug 20, 2010 3:11 pm

Where is thelarmis? He's going to be upset that he missed a good VH discussion.

17 The Hawk   ~  Aug 20, 2010 3:40 pm

Van Hagar is mainly boring. That is the problem. The whole endeavor became very dull. I remember some people were glad because Hagar could "sing better" ... This isn't opera for chrissakes.

"Classic" Van Halen, for all the hokey covers, ill-advised instrumentals and at times paper-thin originals, at their best maintained a sense of rock n roll danger, or at the very least, fun.

18 thelarmis   ~  Aug 20, 2010 4:11 pm

[16] i'm here! late, per usual. hope i didn't miss everything... i've been dealing with other music topics today, with my 2 old trios - bluegrass with one, new/old soundgarden with the other...

we've had the VH discussions here before. i mostly agree w/ Cliff on the DLR era stuff. and a lot of Shaun on the Hagar stuff...

i LOVE Halen. always have. that said, there is a lot of filler and too many covers on the early stuff. (esp Diver Down). Eddie is a god, but sometimes he is even sloppy and noisy. i love DLR. sooo much fun!

"unchained" is easily one of my fave halen tunes ever. the debut is definitely the bomb. i understand cliff liking 1984 a bit better. to me, these are certainly their 2 best. let's call 'em 1 & 1A. 1984 does have too much synth and electronic drums for my tastes, but it's still a terrific record. the debut is it for me...

diver down does have "hang 'em high", which is pretty cool. i'm w/ alex belth in digging the 'big bad bill' cover. the brothers' dad Jan joins them on clarinet here!

i'm sorta tired of defending it, but Van Hagar is fucking EXCELLENT!!! period, end. people shouldn't just dismiss this. first of all, Sammy - The Red Rocker - was kicking major ass years before VH even existed. he was great in Montrose and his solo career. he's also a tremendous guitarist, let alone singer/songwriter/frontman. there was a really good vibe in Van Hagar, lotsa melody, well written songs and very little filler.

5150, OU812 & F.U.C.K. were all *amazing* records. anything beyond that and the ill-advised Gary Cherone era, were brutal. (and i dig Cherone with Extreme - great band, excellent musicians and a few good albums - but he didn't belong in VH...)

DLR solo era - also fucking GREAT!!! that 4-song, cover ep, was just to get him out there. Eat 'Em Smile, is one of the BEST rock albums of all-time. that band was INSANE. Steve Vai, Billy Sheehan, Gregg Bissonette. my god. one of the greatest bands - any genre - ever "assembled".

Skyscraper & A Little Ain't Enough, were also fantastic records. not much beyond that, though the later stuff didn't suck as bad as Balance, Cherone era VH or current Sammy Hagar solo material.

19 thelarmis   ~  Aug 20, 2010 4:17 pm

when i was a little kid, still living in queens, my mom took my brother and me to visit my grandparents on LI. (this was actually all the time...) anyway, a new clothes store had opened in town and were giving away gifts if you bought stuff. the place was callled... The Gap. huh. it was cool back then!

so, we went and the gift we got was a brand new ep - VH II. my brother, who was already playing guitar at the time, flipped out! it was cool stuff and none of us have ever forgotten that...

20 Alex Belth   ~  Aug 20, 2010 4:31 pm

I think it's mostly the synths. For me, anyhow.

21 Alex Belth   ~  Aug 20, 2010 4:38 pm

I love PANAMA too though, so maybe they didn't jump the shark. I just never dug JUMP too much.

22 thelarmis   ~  Aug 20, 2010 5:20 pm

[21] panama is an *amazing* song. also, the birthplace of god in human form! : )

23 Shaun P.   ~  Aug 20, 2010 5:24 pm

[21] AB, is it possible that all the air time the Jump video got on MTV is maybe what had you thinking they'd jumped the shark? That's how I stumbled on to VH, in late 1985/early 1986, it seemed like Jump was on MTV many hours a day, every day . . .

[18] Still down on Balance, my friend? If I ever get to Atlanta, we'll have to see about changing your mind!

VH3 was fine, for what it was. Sadly, it remains the last VH album (greatest hits don't count), and probably always will be. For that alone, to me, VH3 deserves a listen every now and again.

I always thought Cherone should have joined Sammy and DLR on their duo tour. It would have been really funny to see VH's 3 lead singers, all performing together, without Eddie, Alex, and Michael.

24 Cliff Corcoran   ~  Aug 20, 2010 5:40 pm

I'm gonna back Shaun up on Balance a little bit. Not a terrible record, holds its own among the Van Hagar stuff.

I'm not going to put my eyeballs back in after reading thelarmis's over-the-top praise for DLR's solo albums. "Eat ‘Em Smile, is one of the BEST rock albums of all-time." Goes into the hyperbole hall of fame.

In fact, after reading Shaun praise VHIII and thelarmis praise DLR's solo stuff, I'm feeling a little queasy. I'm going to sit down and drink some ginger ale.

25 Cliff Corcoran   ~  Aug 20, 2010 5:42 pm

[23] Yeah, Cherone wasn't on that tour because VHIII never happened, like Rocky V, the Star Wars prequels, the Clash's Cut The Crap, and that one Velvet Underground record Doug Yule made without Lou Reed never happened.

26 thelarmis   ~  Aug 20, 2010 10:32 pm

shaun - ok, i'm in. i never really gave Balance or the Cherone records much of a chance. i'm still not really interested in 'em, but i'll check 'em out with open ears. i'm sure my brother has 'em both...

cliff - wow, dude. definitely NOT hyperbole! i know a TON of musicians who pray to eat 'em and smile and adore the other DLR records, too. for players with chops, those albums are heavenly. bissonette is one of my early idols and major inspirations. and not just the DLR stuff, but his work with Maynard Ferguson's Big Band and other Fusion stuff. i got to meet him a lot, had dinner with his family, and even did part of a clinic with him! : )

everyone i knew and played with, growing up on long island, was completely awed by Eat 'Em and that band. same with the older kids, my brothers' age. i learned a lot about double bass from trying to play along with Shyboy. my bass player learned Sheehan licks in his lessons and all the musicians i knew were blown away by that band. hell, the guitarist/bassist in my jazz trio still pray to Eat 'em...!

it was the same thing going on in LA, which inspired the *amazing* Paul Gilbert to put Racer X together.

there's some serious playing and chops going on within those records. Two Fools Born A Minute, Elephant Gun, Knucklebones and a ton others. the band was smokin' live, also.

those cats cannot be denied. highly influential material going on there!

27 thelarmis   ~  Aug 20, 2010 10:48 pm

whenever i go back and listen to Eat 'Em..., it totally stands the test of time for me. the unison lines that Vai/Sheehan pull off, are undeniably unreal. they rip my face off every time! absolutely burnin'!!!

28 The Hawk   ~  Aug 21, 2010 9:46 am

I can't claim to have heard the Roth solo albums, or at least remember hearing them, but the singles were garbage. "Living In Paradise" is godawful, in particular. It might have been played by rock scientists of the highest order but it is crap. Funny how that works but all the chops in the world can't save a cheesy, lame song.

29 thelarmis   ~  Aug 21, 2010 2:32 pm

[28] yeah, that song in particular is pretty damn cheesy. no chops were on display on that one! not every song was a burner, but there's an awful lot of very excellent material there.

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