Tag Archives: Classic

1984

This album, for many was the peak of the David Lee Roth era Van Halen, in terms of sales and commercial output.

What made 1984 so successful was the music included in the album. There were hits galore, from the uplifting U.S. #1 “Jump” to others like the hilarious “Hot For Teacher”, the creepy “I’ll Wait” and scores of other great songs. It’s no wonder that sales of this album reached over 10 million in the U.S. alone at a time where LPs were being superseded by CDs.

Van Halen had officially broken into the mainstream, and were gathering more and more attention.

Picture courtesy http://i.ytimg.com/vi/0qyA5nnZW_w/hqdefault.jpg

There is absolutely no filler here. The first track, “1984” is a synth led pastiche that introduces the newer, more keyboard oriented style of Van Halen. One can image Ted Templeman pulling his hair out over such “non-pop” music, but as a short intro piece, it does justice.

The group’s biggest hit, “Jump” follows. The song itself is a keyboard driven, super catchy piece about life and lust, with plenty of references in the chorus to jumping. It has become the piece that everybody knows of by Van Halen. And yes, that is Eddie playing keyboard on it.

“Panama” is a show stopping tune about driving a fast car with plenty of sexual references. Indeed, it is so catchy that when the chorus hits you, you are banging your head along with the rest of the band. There are samples of Eddie Van Halen’s Lamborghini in it as well. Nice work.

AC/DC’s Back in Black was cited as a key influence by Eddie Van Halen around the time of 1984.

Picture courtesy http://germanamur.blogspot.com.au/2015/05/acdc.html

What follows is, “Top Jimmy” recorded with a Gibson Flying V for the majority of the guitar parts in the intro. “Top Jimmy” is a hilarious tale about a rock star (Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page, somebody else?) that has the crowd loving it “when he rolls his eyes”. Clever.

“Drop Dead Legs” is about sexy looking legs. Eddie Van Halen used mostly his Kramer 5150 guitar on this album and it does sound different to the previous Van Halen recordings as a result. Still, a song that sounds effortless.

The hilarious “Hot For Teacher” proves that the band were not afraid of humour, but they could not have done it without David Lee Roth. Indeed, “Hot For Teacher” may be the shining moment of David Lee Roth with his macho, politically incorrect swagger. Still, a great, interesting tune nonetheless.

Alex Van Halen sounds really alive on this recording, particularly on “Hot For Teacher”.

Picture courtesy http://consequenceofsound.net/2008/10/icons-of-rock-alex-van-halen/

“I’ll Wait” sounds like a love song. Sort of. It is, in fact about a celebrity stalker. But the song is catchy, memorable and sing-along in its approach. Eddie drives the keyboard heavy sound here.

Proof of Eddie’s musical ability comes next: “Girl Gone Bad”. It twists and turns with an awesome ending. But even though this song was not a single, it is in no way like any of the songs on this recording, throwaway. It is listenable and awesome simultaneously.

Eddie discontinued using the original Frankenstrat after the recording of this album.

Picture courtesy http://guitarism.ru/notes/4277

The closing track, the reworked, “House Of Pain” is the last song off the David Lee Roth Van Halen albums. It is just pleasurably listenable, and another great piece.

But what makes 1984 so special, apart from it being era-defining, is that it is so consistent all the way through. Few bands, let alone records make it into the books of history. Without Eddie’s vision, Dave’s performance, Michael Anthony’s solid basslines and Alex Van Halen’s interesting drum work, with the help of others, this recording would be nothing. Sadly, it was the last of the original incarnation of Van Halen. They would never be this good again.

Van Halen would create their last main recording with frontman David Lee Roth for nearly thirty years afterwards.

Picture courtesy http://www.rockpaperphoto.com/van-halen-usa-1984

References:

  1. Gill, Chris. 2014. Eddie Van Halen Looks Back on Van Halen’s Landmark ‘1984’ Album and the Creation of 5150 Studios http://www.vhnd.com/2015/01/09/happy-birthday-1984-eddie-van-halen-looks-back-on-van-halens-landmark-album/

Women and Children First

Van Halen recorded at a rapid rate early in their career. The first two albums were impressive, yet had little variety apart from heavy hard rock. Although the band had made themselves a big name on the rock circuit, they desired to branch out a little further than before.

Van Halen were becoming superstars by the time of Women and Children First.

Picture courtesy http://www.vhnd.com/2008/06/26/tora-tora-played-backwards/

Recorded in late 1979 and early 1980, and released in the latter year, Women and Children First is a thorough demonstration of what Van Halen could achieve with a slightly more experimental edge. It differs from later efforts by Van Halen as they retained their musical quality in doing so.

The first track on this album is “…And The Cradle Will Rock”. It features the first song driven by a keyboard, although it is not entirely noticeable. Eddie at the time was experimenting with new sounds and decided to plug in a Wurlitzer into his Marshall Amplifier. After spending some time jamming on it with Alex, they completed the song, a masterpiece in sonic experimentation and having a heavy distorted sound to make the traditional Van Halen fan approve of the song.

Eddie the innovator was certainly moving forward more and more so musically.

Picture courtesy https://www.flickr.com/photos/43908441@N00/5296953405/?rb=1

The next song is an ode to sexual desire, “Everybody Wants Some!!” The track itself begins with the hilarious, “You can’t be romantic on a subway line, conductor don’t like it, says you are wasting your time”.

David Lee Roth is in full swing on this album.

Picture courtesy http://www.vhnd.com/2013/08/31/vhnds-all-access-photo-favorite-group-of-1980/

The next song, “Fools” begins with a blues style break and enters a jam style piece. Admittedly this song is not as strong as others, yet it still has the trademark Van Halen sound that fans had got to know by now. It took a while for the band to get this song right for the recorded version.

Coming after that is an interesting piece “Romeo Delight”. This song is one of the most underrated and memorable works of early Van Halen. With its centrepiece line, “Taking the Whiskey to the party tonight and I’m looking for somebody to squeeze” followed by an interesting midsection, before returning to the main part of the song, is thrilling and interesting all the same.

A quick instrumental named “Tora! Tora!” leading into “Loss of Control” leads a more unusual direction for Van Halen. Indeed, Eddie is quoted as comparing Women and Children First to the next album, Fair Warning, commenting he thinks that, contrary to popular opinion, that Women and Children First is the “weird” album, as opposed to Fair Warning. These two tracks give powerful reasoning for the defence of Eddie Van Halen.

Live and in the studio at this point, Van Halen sounded as though they were on an unbeatable mission.

Picture courtesy http://www.tampabay.com/photo-gallery/our-favorite-tampa-bay-concert-photos/2106685

The next three songs, “Take Your Whiskey Home”, “Could This Be Magic?” and “In A Simple Rhyme” indicate a more mellow, acoustic direction for Van Halen. Understandably this was not going to happen live on stage, All three are amusing, rough and ready tales of lust that don’t fail to disappoint.

Van Halen were seriously noticeable on the rock circuit by this album, a reputation that they still hold to this day.

Picture courtesy http://pixgood.com/van-halen-live-1980.html

The last hidden track, nicknamed “Growth” was intended to be a pastiche leading into the next album, the idea never fully realised over time.

All in all, Women and Children First stands tall. It is an interesting, consistent album that does not disappoint. After the release of this album, all four members of Van Halen were confirmed as rock stars for the new generation, and the light shined on Eddie to create more new and wonderful music. A good effort overall.

Van Halen had arrived in the 1980s and were not looking back.


Picture courtesy http://i.ytimg.com/vi/_LMvTfiw8_8/maxresdefault.jpg

References:

1. Van Halen News Desk. 2013. Women and Children First. http://www.vhnd.com/women-and-children-first/