Friday, October 05, 2007

FDF Volume 1: Issue 70: Van Halen - 1984

Album -1984
Artist - Van Halen
Key Players - David Lee Roth - lead vocals, Michael Anthony- bass, Alex Van Halen - drums, Eddie Van Halen - guitar and keyboards.
Produced By - Ted Templeman

Release Date - January 9, 1984

What caused me to blow off the dust? - With all this talk of reunion shows and touring I went back to this one out of sheer nostalgic value. There are better (and worse) Van Halen records but this one sort of set the tone for me personally with the band.

Overview - Gaining more momentum and larger fan base than they'd ever expected Van Halen released 1984. This, the bands sixth studio album, would also be the last with David Lee Roth as the lead vocalist. The album would peak at #2 on the Billboard charts and go on to sell well over 10 Million copies.

FDF Comments (aka the songs) Opening with the keyboard/instrumental 1984 first time listeners, but long time fans of the band are probably not swayed one way or the other. Its not overly complex or even that interesting for that matter. "Jump" follows. This MTV staple would be a massive single for the band (selling 3 million plus) and the band would have fun spending more money on booze than they did on making the actual video. Guitar loving fans were shocked at this direction, but Eddie was a classically trained pianist so he sounds just fine, but the new sound takes some adjusting for long time fans, they are quickly won over. The hard core Eddie lovers have to wait an agonizing 2 minutes before one of his trademark solos are unleashed. Even after completing that solo there is a keyboard "solo". "Panama" is a welcome return to the Van Halen sound. We are clicking on drums bass and guitar. David Lee Roth is in that classing "speaking the lyrics" rather than singing. If you really listen..he doesn't "sing" that much. Released as a single the video was very popular as it showcased a lot of the band in a live setting (much of which was recorded at the Worcester Centrum in Worcester Ma). Eddie lays down his solo at about the right time per Van Halen songs (2 minutes in) and then there is a breakdown (recall the video with David doing the samurai sword dance?). A short call and response chorus brings the song back together. Michael Anthony is the unsung hero on a lot of the Van Halen tracks over the year with his very high harmonies. In a band of show offs and superstars he was the glue. "Top Jimmy" has some early finger plucks from Eddie and then the band jumps in with a 12 bar blues feel, a very bar room rock, feel to the track. Anthony again can be heard extensively on the second verse as well as the chorus. Alex holds the tempo strong and for a massive drum kit he utilizes it all. "Drop Dead Legs" opens with Eddie doing a few guitar lines with Alex on cowbell before the song kicks in. This song just sounds like a Van Halen song, the band always had a very specific sound. This particular track holds contains the longest guitar solo from Eddie. "Hot for Teacher" the widely popular single, and equally as fun and funny video only kept the wagon rolling for Van Halen. Opening with Alex on electric drums that were somewhat delayed in overdubs he clicks to the ride cymbal before Eddie takes the song off with the monster guitar licks. The song slows some and Dave speaks the lyrics before the band comes in and then they get back to the momentum of the track. Its easy to see and hear why this song was popular then, as well as now. "I'll Wait" showcases mostly Alex using a series of rototoms on his drums kit as well as one of the more heavily keyboard oriented tracks on the album. Eddie still has a guitar solo, but its not as flashy as prior solos, perhaps done to maintain the overall feel of the song. "Girl Gone Bad" opens with Eddie and Alex feeding off one another and at about the 45 second mark Michael jumps in and perfect "jam session" moment feels like it is taking place. The bass and drums just drive as Eddie flashes over the top. Roth comes in and by the chorus Anthony is once more doing the harmonies over the top. "House of Pain" has an older Van Halen feel, which would be accurate since this song was a tune they had written before. There are the more machine gun drums and guitar long time fans had grown to love.

Where are they now? During and after the tour for 1984 the band began to fall apart. David wanted to act and make a solo album. Over the years a lot of the stories have played out as he said/she said. David went on to release a few solo albums and tour. Van Halen would continue on with Sammy Hagar for a few albums (that sales wise were some of the biggest) before severing ties. A single album was released with former Extreme front man Gary Cherone taking over for Hagar. The album and tour did not go well and Van Halen sort of went in to hiding. After a few botched attempts to reform with Roth, and a rehab and cancer scare for Eddie Van Halen the band reformed in 2007 for a tour. Michael Anthony was not asked to be in the band and the bass duties have been rolled to Eddies song Wolfgang. The band is currently on tour.

FDF Personal Comments (aka the Live experience) - Some say "You never saw Van Halen" mostly because I saw them one time, on the 5150 tour with Sammy as the vocalist. It was August 22, 1986 at the Providence Civic Center and it was awesome. I was 16. There was over the top drum and bass solos and then Eddie laid down one of his 15 minute solos..blowing smoke rings and jumping around like a mad man. A+ stuff.

FDF Overall Take - Some 23 years later classic rock radio still plays at least four tracks from this album. When looking at the album once more it was really was a peak and valley for the band. After many successful years the charismatic front man was gone. The band continued on and even though many fans followed with Sammy (and like him) they all longed for the original band to be once more..we are close...real close.


Official Site
Unofficial Site

Curious? Check out some MUSIC!

(heck turn on your local classic rock station and wait five minutes) are three from 1984

***mp3s have been removed Nov 21, 2008 11:28 am ET***
Hot for Teacher
Top Jimmy

Disclaimer - For the most part songs listed you can find on iTunes or your local cd shop. The idea is to give you a little taste of the music. Please support the artist buy purchasing some of their work. Songs are posted for about 1 week but can and will be removed at the request of the artist, band, band management etc. If you are one of those persons contact me via the email link in the profile and they will be removed as soon as we are made aware of the request.


At 8:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Another excellent classic! Panama is one of those tunes I just gotta crank.

Good stuff.

At 6:44 PM, Blogger Ello said...

My most favoritest Van Halen song is I'll Wait. This was cool, am eagerly waiting to see what you pool out next!


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