80’s Music: Van Halen

When I was 16, I wanted to be David Lee Roth. He was funny, charismatic, and was slapping more ass than Willie Shoemaker. (the jockey line is from my buddy, Todd Link) I’ve never been one to label Van Halen a Metal band, as Roth wasn’t your classic screamer and Eddie played used more melody in his solos.  What you can’t deny is they were as successful as any band during the decade.  After the first 2 records, the 80’s saw them come out with Women and Children First, which is right behind their debut for quality.  If you want to see a classic lip-synched version of And the Cradle Will Rock, check out this early 80’s TV appearance.

If you do want to state that Van Halen was a Metal band, use Fair Warning as your argument. Darker, with the focus on the music, more than the vocals, Fair Warning has an edge to it that other records by the band do not have.  Researching this record, Wikipedia mentions that at this time, Eddie auditioned to replace Ace Frehley in Kiss, which is hard to believe, since his own band was so much better.  This should tell you how hard it is to work with Diamond Dave.  Unchained was a staple of early MTV and it begins with a great Roth fly off the drum stand into a leg split.  I used to try to emulate this when I was a teenager.  Maybe I wasn’t as mature as I thought I was.

Diver Down is one of the laziest records ever recorded, as the whole thing comes in at about 30 minutes and features 5 cover songs.  Damn if the thing doesn’t work well, though.  The unique components of the band make it such a good record. Below is a clip of Eddie doing Cathedral and then the bands great video for Pretty Woman, which features one of Alex Van Halen’s best efforts.

1984 was the biggest year for music during the decade and Van Halen took the Orwell name and had great success.  The 1984 record was their last with Roth and the only reason it didn’t go number 1 was Thriller owned that spot, with Eddie playing guitar on Beat It.  I could put up some obscure live performance from one of the songs, but Hot for Teacher is one of the greatest videos of all-time…Oh Waldo.

I was initially excited about Sammy Hagar joining the band, as I was a big fan of the red rockers solo work.  What I didn’t realize was the magic that Diamond Dave brought to the band.  5150 would be a pretty great debut from most bands, but it doesn’t match the records Roth did.  Here is a live version of Hagar’s biggest Van Halen song, Why Can’t this be Love.

I don’t just blame Hagar for the bands downward descent, as Eddie’s keyboard antics started taking away from the group from the Jump.  OU812 has a few interesting songs, but it is weaker than anything the band had done to this point.  Finish What you Started is a really cool turn for the band, though, as it shows how Eddie can do almost anything with his axe. Below is a sexy photo shoot video version.

Here’s a cool version of Jump by 80’s alternative band, Aztec Camera.

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2 thoughts on “80’s Music: Van Halen

  1. Well…your known to me now. Good luck and great article on VH. I agree that when Roth left, so did the attitude. I’ll be sure and read your other work.

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