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Van Halen A Different Kind of Truth

February 10, 2012

After reading Sammy Hagar’s autobiography excerpts in Rolling Stone last year I did not have much hope for this album.  I figured that Eddie Van Halen was a lost cause.  Then when there was more hype about the coming tour of a reconstituted version of Van Halen with Diamond Dave then about the new album I figured that was not a good sign.   It looked like Van Halen were going to be an oldies touring band collecting funds for their retirement. Then I read a few reviews of the leading single “Tattoo” that were very bleak (I never heard it until now).  So when release Tuesday came this album was not on my list.

Then I started to read some reviews of the full LP that were pretty positive so I headed over to iTunes to sample the album.  Surprise!  It was pretty damn good.  Not VH1 or 1984 good, but a very respectable late career offering.

This is not a pop top-40 album like 1984, but rather muscular pop-metal. Van Halen’s sound has evolved from their late 70s and early 80s heyday.  They are not milking that, nor are they distancing themselves.  I feel like there is some recognition of how metal has evolved as a genre over the last 30 years – mainly speed and intensity.

Diamond Dave’s voice is solid (it always kind of sucked – his strength is attitude not pipes).  Lyrically Dave is still devilish and sophomoric (that is a complement). He has taken on an additional voice – a deep almost Leonard Cohen-ish sing/talk (that is the sound is similar – none of the lyrical sophistication of Cohen).

Eddie is absolutely brilliant.  For a guy who was reportedly shuffling around in his slippers, drooling and absent-mindedly looking for his heaters a couple of years ago, he clearly must have gotten his shit together.  He plays fast, melodic and distinctively Van Halen.  Honestly he is on top of his game.  I find this a bit shocking. Better yet he lost the keys to the ivories. Simple put, he rocks.

This is not a classic, but for the Van Halen fan this is a fun reboot.  Frankly classic Van Halen and Van Hager has been so played to death on classic radio that I can’t really listen to it. Chickenfoot was a nice fix, but this is better. By the way “Tattoo” does not suck.

PS – Check out how much this album cover cops an old Commodores album:


Wonderfully phallic.

And weirdest opening act of all time:  Kool and the Gang will be opening for Van Halen on their coming tour.  Beyond having hits in the same time period what on earth do these two have in common?


From → Music Reviews

  1. What do they have in common? A love for money. 😉

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