Saturday, March 31, 2012
"This is such a throwback to the old Van Halen sound. They've still got it!"
If I had a dime for every time I've heard someone say this...
The truth is, it IS quite a throwback for Van Halen. With Diamond Dave back at the helm, the brothers, now joined with Eddie's son Wolfgang Van Halen on Bass, they are now more VAN HALEN than Van Halen ever was.
However, one crucial element is missing from the picture: Michael Anthony. Let's face it: it's not a true reunion without the original band members, but it's the best we could get.
And the tunes are so fresh & such a departure from the Hagar-era, they sound as if they were written back in the bands heyday!
That's because, they were.
The 'new' Van Halen album is chock full of songs that were written back in the mid '70s to early 80's. I remembered "She's The Woman" from the Gene Simmons demos circa 1976, and the rest of the songs were pressed up on vinyl back in their peak with Mr Roth. A friend of mine who is an archivist has all of these songs in one form or another. But, they have morphed into what has been hailed by some as "The Album of 2012!" With new Black Sabbath on the way, amongst other releases, that statement is a bit bold to make in the 1st quarter of the year.
On that note...
"Tattoo" starts off the album with a rather bland, half baked sound. It is also the first single which, whomever made that choice should be sacked! "She's The Woman" follows with more attitude and groove, making it more single-worthy than the aforementioned. "You and Your Blues" combines a bit of the Hagar-era sound with old Van Halen, making it a unique track. It's not until track 4 that the balls start wrecking! "China Town" - another track from the '70s has some classic flashwork from Eddie Van Halen, showing he has his chops back. Wolfie's bass lines are rather tasty as well, but I believe it is what was originally written for the song by Michael Anthony.
Other standout cuts on this album, nearly 30 years overdue are "Bullethead", the hi-energy - groove-laden "The Trouble With Never" and "Outta Space." The only gripe I have with any track on this album is "Big River" sounds too much like a rewrite of "Runnin' With The Devil" with the main line. It does change up throughout the song, but that one section that repeats sounds like it was ripped right from the classic VH hit.
All in all, I would say this is better than all of the Van-Hagar albums.
Rating: 5 out of 7 Headknockers