Friday, November 14, 2008

25. Van Halen - S/T

As far as I'm concerned, there are only six Van Halen albums. Anything after 1984 does not exist in my mind. Because my mind is a place where Van Hagar never happened and where no one ever heard of Gary Cherone. Just wanted to get that out of the way.

I am an unabashed VH fan. I think David Lee Roth was one of the greatest frontmen in rock and roll history. Eddie Van Halen was a god before he became whatever he is now. There are some bands where you just want to go back in time and tell them: Stop here. Stop now, before you become like the baseball player who makes a fool of himself by playing well past retirement age, before you become the sitcom that stayed on one season too long. But, no. Van Halen is like The Simpsons now, where you look at them and think, it all went downhill after Season 5.

This album is near perfection. If we could erase "Feel Your Love" from the track listing it would make my "perfect albums" list. But alas, few things in life are ever perfect. I'll take what I can get and VH really delivers the goods on this one. From the first notes of Runnin' With the Devil, VH had me hooked.

The best thing about this album, is that I bonded with my son through it. He plays a pretty mean guitar and when he started obsessing about guitar playing for real he raided my CD collection for all the classic rock. And thus the hero worship of Eddie Van Halen began.

One day we were in Guitar Center and my son sat down to try out a new guitar. He picked up a Fender, plugged it in and started playing Eruption. There were about six or seven other people in the store all playing (Smoke on the Water, mostly) and they all stopped. Everyone who worked there stopped what they were doing. Everyone shopping stopped what they were doing. My kid played Eruption flawlessly and the place broke out in applause when he was done. Yea, I know, some of you will say it's easier to play than it sounds. But come on, the kid was 10 at the time.

Anyhow, this album is a reminder for me of the days when my son and I got along all the time and listened to music together. Before he turned into a teenager.

Favorite song: Ain't Talkin Bout Love
The Van Halen News Desk

8 comments:

Cullen said...

Ain't Talking 'Bout Love is the shit, but Running With the Devil is probably one of the most understate songs ever.

steelopus said...

Nice.
To me, the most incredible thing about this record is that it's their DEBUT.

Generally, no one had heard a thing from them before, yet they drop this bombshell on the world with virtually no prior experience.

Without DLR's arrogance, this may have come off as sounding like just another band trying desperately to drive a stake into the heart of disco.
Instead, DLR lays it all on the line and his bombastic flamboyance drew a line in the sand that separated him (and the band as a whole) from the mere mortals of Rock.

Nothing is more telling than listening to the solo vocal track from Runnin' With The Devil. Who the fuck did this guy think he was?! Oh that's right, he thought he was God - and he damn well may have been.
Runnin' With The Devil

michele said...

Excellent commentary. Runnin With the Devil is a close second for me - it's the opening of Aint Talkin Bout Love that gets me.

And you are so right about DLR's arrogance. His personality was as much an instrument as EVH'S guitar.

The Silver Fox said...

//As far as I'm concerned, there are only six Van Halen albums. Anything after 1984 does not exist in my mind. Because my mind is a place where Van Hagar never happened and where no one ever heard of Gary Cherone. Just wanted to get that out of the way.//

Word. I don't mind 'Feel Your Love' so much. OTOH, 'On Fire' doesn't do much for me. And I'd like to give a nod to 'Jamie's Cryin.'

ALa said...

tesco told me a while back that you were a fellow VH junkie... I once wrote a story about my heartbreak over their breakup using every single Van Halen (no Van Hagar) song title (really, EVER one! haha). It was so cool and I'd give anything to have it back.
This is such a killer album!
Great new digs BTW.

michele said...

I would give anything to be able to read that, Ala.

Solonor Rasreth said...

In a perfect world, this would have been their first and last album. Why keep messing with perfection?

dwfox said...

Thanks for posting that link, steelopus. The fact that DLR screams his own harmony (like at 0:49, and all through the finale) blows my freakin' MIND!! I've heard that track a million times, but never like that!