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February 7, 2012 at 8:22 am Quote #3806


Van Halen’s acrobatics aren’t stuck in 1984
By MARK LEPAGE, Freelance February 7, 2012

A Different Kind of Truth Interscope Rating 4 out of five

Like America, Van Halen is back, because like America, Van Halen never really goes away, although it should have imploded decades ago. It still surprises you with its odd and unforgivable appeal. Yes, Tattoo (tat-too, tat-too) is odd indeed at first listen, with David Lee Roth’s staccato vocal and lyrics, that plodding bass line, the construction. You can hear DLR’s vocal tendons straining in Tattoo – and yet, it’s the unexpectedly addictive, compelling intro to the VH comeback because, for one thing, there’s no strain in Eddie Van Halen’s tendons. The superlative solo, equal parts virtuosity, arena red meat and compositional savvy, is simply something nobody else would have done any time between 1979 and 2012.

The slash-lurch of You and Your Blues confirms that VH still has hooks. The doubletime floor show in China Town features a remarkable bit of guitar acrobatics, and you’re reminded that this band, for all its gauche sins, remains sui generis (now that the Hagar the Horrible era is over). Never before or since has so much ability been fused to so much carny.

Diamond Dave’s bravura braying may not entirely have the oomph it once did, but his wiles do. Dave has always been more culturally intelligent than any other hard-rock singer, it goes without saying, but more than the barkers in other genres as well. The spoken-word bit in Tattoo about “he fought for the unions / some of us still do” may or may not be a populist shout-out, but it sounds winning. Stay Frosty updates Ice Cream Man with vintage Roth wisdom on Buddhism: “He looked me in the eyes and said / ‘Don’t make me say this twice / you wanna be a monk, you gotta cook a lotta rice.’ ” Although the album’s best line is unquestionably “God is love / but get it in writing.”

Eddie? Edward? The metal blogs – always the most hilariously savaging – will be filled with the usual “he’s lost it!”/”he’s finished!” zaniness. That he’s lost a fret-step. But here are the EVH “horse,” the “elephant,” and a full spectrum of Technicolor hammer-on whammy creativity. Bullethead races and squeals, Honeybabysweetiedoll is rippingly weird, and the other Van Halen remains the meatiest drummer in hard rock.

The question that needs asking, or answering, is simple: 35+ years in, with the fifth singer change (Dave-Sammy-Dave-Gary-Sammy-Dave), is A Different Kind of Truth a better Van Halen album than MDNA will be a Madonna album, or No Line on the Horizon was a U2 album? And the answer is yes. We’re not necessarily talking about soul here – rather, a different kind of inner/outer expression. Think of neon. Eddie doesn’t have as many lightning bolts as he once did? As DLR might ask: How many you got?

Podworthy: Stay Frosty

February 7, 2012 at 8:26 am Quote #3809


Disc picks
Rounding up some recent releases

Calgary Herald February 7, 2012 2:23 AM

Van Halen A Different Kind of Truth Rating 3 out of 5

ROCK . Going back to move forward is rarely a good idea. It can prove lucrative, but rarely does it produce anything of artistic note or merit (see George Lucas). So it’s little surprise that Van Halen’s double-dipping of its past – reteaming with frontman David Lee Roth and raiding its tombs for leftovers to reheat – should deliver an album that, while not without some highlights and standouts, doesn’t make a compelling statement about its vibrancy as a band today. Take first single, Tattoo, a structural clunker that sounds as dated as the idea behind it (why not Rat Tail or Parachute Pants?), and which certainly doesn’t make a case that this reunion was required. Nor do the bulk of the songs, which range from the cloying, near embarrassing Honey baby sweetie doll to the merely forgettable Big River. But, again, that’s not to say Truth is without its merits, the greatest of which is Eddie, who’s on fire, driving the songs with some masterful soloing and riffing. China Town and Bullethead sound like Anthrax tunes, with brother Alex adding nitro-fuel via some pretty excellent flailing. As for Diamond Dave, his contributions are slightly less exceptional. While always more dynamic than a great vocalist, age has robbed him of much of that spark, with him often sounding as if he’s struggling to keep up rather than being an integral part of the proceedings. Granted, for fans all of this is probably moot, as, like the album itself, it’s merely an exercise in going back, not an opportunity to move forward.

- Mike Bell

February 7, 2012 at 8:33 am Quote #3813


Van Halen’s first record with David Lee Roth in 27 years, ‘A Different Kind of Truth’
Van Halen, ‘A Different Kind of Truth’
Tuesday, February 7, 2012, 6:00 AM

The last word on Van Halen’s huge reunion album goes to Eddie himself.

“A Different Kind of Truth,” the first album to feature original singer David Lee Roth in 27 years, ends with a magnificent cadenza from Eddie, a glory-seeking flame-out of smoke and energy that calls to mind nothing so much as a fighter pilot circling the sky with nihilistic glee, before going down to his orgasmic doom.

It’s a telling moment but, by that point, a redundant one.

Eddie Van Halen’s final solo drives home a point most of the music before it already made clear: It’s Eddie’s show, folks, with the rhythm section acting as a necessary support for his fancy fingerings, and the singer (Roth) something of an afterthought.

Nearly all the music on “Truth” focuses on pummeling riffs (some of which rank among the most muscular of their career), and wild-eyed solos (including ones sure to make a budding shredder shed genuine tears of joy).

When it comes to melody and song-structure… not so much.

The album’s lead single, “Tattoo,” proved prophetic. It’s got guts and punch but did anybody sing along?

Little of what follows will make you want to, either. The most obvious exception? “Blood and Fire,” which has an actual hook. Most of the rest of the material comes closer to the “deep album tracks” of the band’s earliest disks (the kinds only staunch fans play) rather than any of their zingier hits. In fact, the new CD’s source material came from kibbles and bits left over from the band’s initial run (1978-’84). It doesn’t sound like they found a way to fully flesh them out this time, either. Instead, it seems as if Eddie — along with son (Wolfgang, in his studio debut) and brother (Alex) — had themselves a grand old time bashing through crazy beats and keen improvs.

Then they left it up to frontman Roth to find some way to sing, or more often yell, around them to create something akin to a song. It might have helped if they had original bassist Michael Anthony’s flair for harmonies to smooth things out.

Small wonder, in the song “As Is,” when we hear Roth mutter a wry aside — “this next part should confuse things, let’s stay focused” — it’s as if he’s talking not to the audience, but to himself. Later, in the same cut he says, “a little more volume in the headphones, please,” as if acknowledging he’s being drowned out.

Often the sheer pace of the music daunts him. The songs come in three speeds — fast, faster, and face-meltingly fast. If such velocity isn’t conducive to singing anything catchy, it does guarantee a wealth of metallic thrills. “The Trouble With Never” has a Hendrix Experience-style wah-wah power, delivered with a garage band’s excitement. “Outta Space” is all spit and sinew.

Likewise, Eddie’s solos compete with his best for both chew and dexterity. They’re full of dentist drill thrills, delivered with the evil skill of the Zell character in “Marathon Man.”

Inevitably, this renders “Truth” more a metal genre exercise than the rock-pop nexus of the band’s best. It presents a group, long fractured by ego and argument, not quite fully re-integrated. Eddie, most of all, seems to operate a world of his own — one that comes with an implicit threat to both band and audience: Play along, or eat my dust.

February 7, 2012 at 8:50 am Quote #3815


4 out of 5 stars
by Stephen Thomas Erlewine

Reinventing Van Halen proved to be a tricky task, so Eddie Van Halen proceeded to reunite the band…a move so obvious it should have come as no surprise that it was easier said than done. Sammy Hagar was brought in for a 2004 hits album and an accompanying tour, a project that collapsed in acrimony so noxious that founding bassist Michael Anthony left with the Red Rocker. Eddie brought in his son Wolfgang as Anthony’s replacement and began a prolonged courtship of David Lee Roth that first led to a tour, and then to this, A Different Kind of Truth, the band’s first album in 14 years and their first with Roth in twice that long. That’s a long time, but the roots of A Different Kind of Truth stretch back even further, with several songs originating from demo tapes Van Halen made before their debut, and the rest consciously written in that style. No synths are to be found anywhere on the record, they’ve been swept aside along with Michael Anthony’s bedrock eighth-note thump and Sammy Hagar’s radio-ready pop polish, stripping Van Halen down to their core: a duel for attention between David Lee Roth and Eddie Van Halen. Where Sammy enabled Eddie’s ambitions, Diamond Dave unleashes the guitarist’s id, taunting him to play faster, harder, tougher, then fighting for space between unwieldy riffs. Certainly, there are hooks here, even some with pop propulsion, but the unexpected signature of A Different Kind of Truth is its heaviness, its 13 songs of loud, unrelenting rock. The only time it comes up for air is on “Stay Frosty,” with its acoustic intro deliberately evoking memories of “Ice Cream Man.” Of course, the entirety of this comeback is designed to revive the spirit of the first five or six Van Halen records, and building the album upon those old demos turns out to be a savvy move, as they not only saved promising songs, but re-oriented the band, pushing them toward their essence. It’s akin to the Rolling Stones digging up unfinished songs and completing them for an expanded reissue of Some Girls but in reverse: instead of trying to fit into the past, Van Halen are using their history to revive their present and they succeed surprisingly well on A Different Kind of Truth.

Stay Frosty

February 7, 2012 at 10:30 am Quote #3838


Van Halen song by song review for ‘A Different Kind of Truth’
By Joe Vallee at 1:02 am on Tuesday February 7, 2012

A Different Kind of Truth’ is Van Halen’s long-awaited reunion album with David Lee Roth and it doesn’t disappoint. Although it’s only February, ‘Truth’ might actually be one of the year’s best releases. And while you can read the album review in our Entertainment section, here is a song by song review of the album on Philly Buzz.


Tattoo- By now, everyone has heard the band’s long awaited single which kicks off the album. ‘Tattoo’ is a reworking of ‘Down in Flames,’ which was played occasionally on the band’s first world tour in 1978. In a move similar to U2, the first single Van Halen released off their album wasn’t really indicative of what was to come. Though it was met with generally mixed reviews, ‘Tattoo’ ventured into some new territory of sorts for the band. The late era Led Zeppelin-esque synthesizer on the verses combined with Eddie and Alex Van Halen’s slower than usual but strong and steady groove nicely compliments Roth’s tribute to permanent pigments. And as always, Eddie absolutely shreds on the solo. As you’ll hear on the original, Eddie often repeats the beginning of ‘You’re No Good,’ Van Halen II’s opening track, which is heard at the end of ‘Tattoo.’ If the guy’s at Interscope planned to temper expectations of the new album by releasing perhaps the weakest track as it’s first song, they succeeded beyond their wildest dreams.

She’s the Woman- A song very familiar with hard core Van Halen fans, ‘She’s the Woman’ was a staple during the band’s club days on the Sunset Strip. It was even included in the band’s Warner Brothers demos from 1977. However, it was never officially released by the band until now. If you click on the link above, you’ll notice the breakdown in the middle and near the end of the track turned into ‘Mean Street’ from “Fair Warning.” The band played the song at their ‘Cafe Wha?’ gig in early January, where Wolfgang layed down a smoking groove that’s identical to the album. Unfortunately, the drum solo Alex often performed during the live versions of the song was not included on ‘Truth.’

You and Your Blues- To be honest, I’m trying to compare this to another Van Halen song and I actually can’t, and I mean this in a good way. ‘You and Your Blues’ has all the elements of a classic Van Halen song: a catchy chorus combined with flashy work from Eddie and the band. I wouldn’t be surprised if this was a future single. Here is a preview.

Chinatown- With an opening intro from Eddie that could almost pass for a death metal track, “Chinatown” is arguably the hardest song the band has ever recorded. Perhaps the most impressive aspect of the song is the work of Alex and Wolfgang. I know it’s an overused cliche, but the rhythm section here is absolutely bone crunching, with Alex pushing his double bass to the max. This is something I would have liked to see more when Michael Anthony was in the band.

Blood and Fire- A catchy track from the word go, the basic music for ‘Blood and Fire’ had been used by Eddie Van Halen on the soundtrack for 1984′s “The Wild Life.” The track could easily have fit on 1982′s Diver Down, relying more on melody than sheer power (although it offers a little of both). Just think “Little Guitars” combined with “In a Simple Rhyme.” The song’s chorus combined with the song’s scorching bridge leading up to the final chorus is pretty intense. Just prior to Eddie’s solo, Roth deadpans “Told ‘ya I was coming back,” just as Eddie tears into a riff reminiscent of ‘Romeo Delight.’ Definitely a strong track.

Bullethead- Another smoking song from the band’s club days that was dug up for ‘Truth.’ Not much has changed here as far as the musical arrangement from 1977, and the background vocals are solid too! One noticeable addition is the title of the new album in the lyrics. Simply put, this is straight ahead, balls to the wall rock. There are some moments on truth which the band pushed their sound to the brink of thrash metal, and ‘Bullethead’ is one of those moments. The most amusing lyric of the song I keep going back to? “Do you really really drive this way, just to piss me off.” Gotta love Dave.

As Is- You usually get some kind of speaking role in one form or another from Alex on a Van Halen album. And after counting off the intro and arguably laying down his most thunderous opening since ‘Everybody Wants Some,’ ‘As Is’ turns into a blistering rocker, continuing with the theme of the album’s heaviness. Think of a faster version of “Sinners Swing!’ combined with ‘Hot For Teacher.’ It’s a little bit of a stretch to call this a previous demo, but Eddie’s riff was taken from his cameo appearance on ‘Two and a Half Men.’

Honeybabysweetiedoll- To be honest, this is kind of where the album hits a lull, although it’s extremely brief. What saves this song are some of its sonic nuances, which make it sound like an outtake from Woman and Children First. Not a bad song, but not necessarily the first one I would pick off the album as a standout.

The Trouble With Never- Eddie, Alex, and Wolfie waste no time getting into this one right from the start. It’s opening groove is something you could actually find on a Red Hot Chili Peppers album, complete with Dave’s spoken/sung verses followed by a poppy chorus featuring background vocals in the vein of Anthony. The bookends to this song give off a hard rock/funk feel, while the slower breakdown in the middle gives off a ‘System of a Down’ type of vibe. It’s a welcome change, and Roth’s ode to ‘Dance the Night Away’ is a nice touch as well.

Outta Space- This was formerly ‘Let’s Get Rockin,’ another one of the Warner Brothers 1977 demos. Some of the later breakdowns featuring Eddie are exceptional, as he, Alex and Wolfgang play in syncopated rhythms. And although Roth is singing in somewhat of a falsetto voice for the majority of the verses, he pulls it off well enough to hold down the fort.

Stay Frosty- If ‘Ice Cream Man’ had a sister, it would be ‘Stay Frosty.’ From the acoustic guitar at the beginning to Alex’s drums on the verses, the similarities are impossible to ignore. Whether Roth played the acoustic guitar on this track as well is unknown, but chances are this was not something Eddie and Alex had worked on in previous years because DLR has his name written all over this. If you listen closely, the opening guitar seems very similar to ‘Friends’ from Led Zeppelin III, and you can also find some traces of ‘Bottoms Up!” from Van Halen II in there as well. The track was first heard on an episode of CSI in a strip club, and I must admit, the song fit the scene perfectly (or vice versa). ‘Truth’ needed a track like this. Vintage Dave.

Big River- The more you play this song, the more you like it. You first get the impression that the song is a ballad with Eddie’s soft intro. But have no fear: the band kicks into high gear soon after, with Eddie ripping into a Metallica-like solo during the bridge while the band grooves on the chorus as opposed to the verses. Trust me, you’ll be singing the catchy chorus to yourself after the first half dozen listens or so. “Big River, ROLLIN!” An album highlight.

Beats Workin- If Van Halen were making hit records in 1974, it would probably sound like this. Funny I should say that. In news that will shock nobody by now, “Beats Workin’ was resurrected from Put Out the Lights, which was featured on the Gene Simmons 1976 demos. The album’s closer sounds like something straight out of AC/DC during the first half minute or so, as Eddie lays down some power chords that are simple but effective before turning into. This is not Roth’s strongest song vocally, but he holds it together as Eddie plays to his strengths. Despite the ode to 70′s rock, the song doesn’t sound dated. Think summertime at a backyard BBQ in the middle of the afternoon when you’re on your third or fourth beer. That’s ‘Beats Workin. And on top of that, Alex uses the cowbell!

February 7, 2012 at 11:01 am Quote #3840


Dom Lawson reviews the long-awaited new album from Van Halen, A Different Kind Of Truth, out now!

February 7, 2012 at 1:58 pm Quote #3853


The Beatles of beach-ball arena rock breathe heavily, defy eye-rolling
By Steve Kandell
7 out of 10

I was 13 in 1984. More to the point, I was 13 during 1984. It’s hard to overstate the impact of Van Halen being the biggest band on the planet at that critical moment of an impressionable suburban adolescent’s cognitive and social development. They were my Beatles: four distinct outsize personalities with skill sets to match, adding up to more than the sum of their considerable parts, a lab-tested calibration of chops, hooks, showmanship, and humor. Their logo was made to be scrawled on the front of an algebra notebook. They became the embodiment of what the term “rock band” even meant, and each band I’ve encountered since has been refracted through that image and attendant mythology, measured against that formula. Fifteen seconds into any song and you knew it was them; my mom knew it was them. When this platonic ideal fantastically imploded a year later, the tragedy of the subsequent lineup (no need to name names) wasn’t that their records were limp (they were) or whether they sold (they did), but that the band was ordinary, and, worse, seemed relieved by that fact, unburdened from the need to be a spectacle, too disengaged to properly navigate the fabled thin line between stupid and clever.

All of which is to say that for 28 (*sigh* doesn’t even begin to cover it) years, I’ve been thinking entirely too much about this moment. Four years after an unlikely and, at least as far as the public is concerned, melodrama-free tour with David Lee Roth, there is now an actual new album, A Different Kind of Truth, that is technically the 12th Van Halen album, but really it’s their seventh. Red flags abound, though: For something that would have been the biggest event in pop at nearly any other point in the past two decades, there’s a weird hush surrounding this release. Could be that the fairly execrable leadoff track and first single, “Tattoo,” lowered expectations. Or maybe Van Halen are now a high-end novelty act, multi-platinum fringe-dwellers who don’t just want to appeal to your easy sense of nostalgia, but don’t really have a peer group they’re striving to outshine. They’ll be playing arenas all year… but with Kool and the Gang opening. The six Van Halen albums between 1977 and 1984 comprise one of rock’s most unassailable hot streaks ̬ how do they make something that doesn’t feel like a wan postscript to that? Better yet: why?

A Different Kind of Truth doesn’t duck either question. It’s not perfect — it’s too long by a third, David Lee Roth often sounds like a 2 A.M. drunk doing David Lee Roth at karaoke, and a Kinks cover wouldn’t have killed them. But the album clearly aspires to both be part of the canon, and, if need be, serve as an entry point. Advance buzz noted that the tracklist was plundering the band’s much-bootlegged 1976 Gene Simmons-produced “Van Halen Zero” demo, as if that spoke to some lack of ambition, but this is actually the mission statement: To redeem the band, and brand, after decades of neglect and bad hoodoo, pitting themselves against their younger, hungrier selves seems far more inspired than lazy. Besides, Van Halen were still dipping back into that well as late as 1984′s “House of Pain,” while Diver Down didn’t suffer any from having just four original non-instrumentals on it.

So skip “Tattoo” — maybe just delete the track from your iTunes as a time-saver — and newly appointed opening track “She’s the Woman,” one of four songs here originally from “Van Halen Zero,” sets the pace: lean and snarling and running circles around the amateurish versions recorded 36 years ago (or 16 years before bassist and genetic-lottery-winner Wolfgang Van Halen’s birth). Ditto “Bullethead” and the album-closing duo “Big River” and “Beats Workin’,” previously known as “Big Trouble” and “Put Out the Lights,” respectively. No synths, no hits, no dubstep experiments. There’s your how.

Even the songs that aren’t directly reworked versions of Paleolithic demos are designed to sound familiar. “Stay Frosty” is damn near undignified in its wink to their debut album’s beloved “Ice Cream Man”; roll your eyes at the idea of men in their mid-50s rehashing their best ideas for fun and/or profit, and many will, or marvel at the fact that it’s 2012 and you’re listening to a new Van Halen song that sounds like “Ice Cream Man.” Bands have been ripping them off for years; they’ve earned their turn. If ever there was an album that demanded we think a little less, this is it. A week after the mass vivisection of Lana Del Rey, that should be the ultimate compliment and ultimate gift.

Best to let go of Diamond Dave — that smirking, leather-chapped, high-kicking slab of testosterone — and accept Roth as hammy, mildly embarrassing Uncle David. He doesn’t attempt any of those trademark dog-whistle shrieks (save for a great one on “As Is” ), nor does he embrace the Heart Attack and Vine-era Tom Waits boze-de-boze-de-bopper we imagined he’d age into; what’s left is a middle ground of amiable, Borscht-Belted come-ons over some ferociously performed music that people used to call heavy metal. If you were banking on more than that out of this record, I don’t know what to tell you. The euphoric “Blood and Fire” (Dave’s purring aside, “Told ya I was coming back!” is this album’s “You’re gonna get some leg tonight fo’ sho’!”).The frantic, haute-for-teacher “As Is” and the mid-tempo shoulda-been-the-single “You and Your Blues” can hang with any heavy-breathing romp they made in their heyday. And if there was still such a thing as AOR radio, these songs would be all over it, spiking convertible rentals all summer long. But there isn’t. So what now?

Anyone looking for chances to wince will find them — “Outta Space” answers the musical question, “What if, instead of Sammy Hagar or Gary Cherone, Fred Schneider?” — but they’re too innocuous to inflict any damage. If you’re gonna gripe about crooned bumper-sticker lyrics like, “When you turn your stereo on / Does it return the favor?,” it’s a real short trip to realizing that a car named after a Central American country is a silly metaphor for fucking, and that trip sounds like no fun at all.

Meanwhile, despite Eddie Van Halen’s various recent physical maladies — he’s probably one-eighth bionic by now — he’s still every bit the freak of nature that launched a million clumsily finger-tapped “Eruption” renditions. The double-time “China Town” is most likely to strike fear in the hearts of the nation’s tablature-writers. And while the absent Michael Anthony is the elephant (not) in the room, this must be said: When it comes to navigating the space between his father’s and uncle’s signature flailings, Wolfie’s combination of nature and nurture comes in pretty handy. Anthony’s trademark background vocals, to say nothing of his just-happy-to-be-here demeanor, are sorely missed, but the kid knows what he’s doing. And Eddie and Alex know what they’re doing placing him there: The band’s publishing is credited to two entities, The Three Twins, LLC and Diamond Dave Enterprises, drawing skewed battle lines, lest anyone consider getting crazy from the heat all over again. (And come to think of it, the few seemingly botched vocal takes left on the record may be how the brothers Van Halen exact their revenge these days.)

But the prospect of soap-opera antics seems unlikely. Toward the end of Van Halen’s surreal warm-up show at a tiny Greenwich Village jazz club last month, a beaming Roth turned to the two brothers who’ve spent the better part of the past three decades as his archenemies and said, “This has to be one of the best gigs ever, right?” Had the microphone been anywhere near his mouth, this would have just sounded like the latest in a long, glorious career of Barnumesque stage blather. But the mic was at his side, and both Alex and Eddie nodded emphatically, more shocked than anyone. Having already proven they can still mint money playing the hits without killing one another, the opportunity to be relevant rather than merely present has to be its own reward. And to do so when their days of dutifully molding teenage consciences by the millions are a distant memory, and when bands half their age show no inclination or ability to pick up the mantle, has to be the closest that faded multimillionaire demigods can get to the feeling they had when they were playing to land a record deal. There’s your why.

February 7, 2012 at 4:49 pm Quote #3887


Album review: The ‘real’ Van Halen returns with ‘A Different Kind of Truth’
Published: Tuesday, February 07, 2012, 5:00 AM
By Kevin O’Hare, The Republican

Van Halen, “A Different Kind of Truth,” (Interscope).
3 ½ stars

As reunions go, this one fits in the A-category, though Van Halen almost let the years spin too far and get away from them.

It’s their first full album since 1984 to feature the band with its best known lead singer, David Lee Roth. Presidents have come and gone, world crises have changed from one to another and even the major medium of the day, CDs, are struggling to stay relevant.

This may help do it.

With “Diamond Dave” out front and his partner Eddie Van Halen spinning enough dials and playing enough dazzling fretboard work to make jaws open, not that much has changed since 1984. The sound is still there, it’s just a tad faster.

Van Halen kicked off this alum with “Tattoo,” kind of a lame choice since there are definitely better songs on the album. “A Different Kind of Truth” is not all consistent. There are moments during “She’s the Woman,” and “Honeybabysweetiedoll” when one wonders why they even bothered with this nostalgia trip.

Then you get into the meat of the album and all the answers come rushing forward.

There are several songs here that are must-haves whether you’re a Van Halen fan or not. Roth turns in one of his finest vocals (How old is this guy?) on “You and Your Blues” while “China Town” features some classic Eddie guitar shredding that will raise the tattoos on your back. Guitar aficionados should also love “Bullethead” where Eddie’s completely locked in, and the acoustic guitar break provides the right diversion at the right time in “As Is.”

Along with the anthem-like potential and the big muscular guitars on “Stay Frosty,” the album has one more essential element: “Big River,” a western for the 2010s with a staggering amount of guitar wonder, it finds Van Halen sounding surprisingly relevant long after most of these reunions have faded away.

Now, can they keep each other from killing each other while their touring? That’s the next big question. Here’s hoping they can, if only so a new generation can hear Van Halen — the real Van Halen.

Songs to download: “You and Your Blues,” “Big River”

Rating Scale: One Star (poor) to Five Stars (a classic).

February 7, 2012 at 7:54 pm Quote #3911


UNCHAINED: One of Van Halen’s most dedicated and knowledgeable fans dishes on new album
Published: Tuesday, February 07, 2012, 6:45 PM
Updated: Tuesday, February 07, 2012, 6:47 PM
By Zeke Jennings

Dave Clark is a respected journalist who is currently the editor in chief of the Pioneer in Big Rapids and is the former editor of the Daily Telegram in Adrian.

He’s also the biggest Van Halen fan I’ve ever met. His knowledge of the band never ceases to amaze me.

So, when it came time to ask someone about Van Halen’s new album, “A Different Kind of Truth,” which was released on Tuesday, I didn’t even need to think about who to call.

The band’s new album is its first original material since the forgettable “Van Halen III” in 1998, and the first full album with original frontman David Lee Roth since “1984.”

Van Halen is slated to perform at the Palace of Auburn Hills on Feb. 20.

Q: What do you think of “A Different Kind of Truth”?

Clark: They have figured out a way to get back to the business of being Van Halen. This is the band at its core. Edward Van Halen: Guitar virtuoso. David Lee Roth: Court jester. They sound tremendous.

What they’ve done, I think you’d be hard-pressed to find another example like it in music history. You see these reunions from time to time. Soundgarden’s comes to mind, and Rage Against the Machine is another one.

After all these years, they’ve (Van Halen) figured out how to go back to the beginning and recreate the essence of the band. What is Van Halen? A great American rock band, but essentially a souped-up bar band. … That’s what these guys loved doing. They could go out and do a Led Zeppelin or Deep Purple cover and then a James Brown song. I mean, they used to do KC and the Sunshine Band, because that’s what bar bands do — they want you to be able to get up and party. There are a lot of different influences there.

This record would fit very neatly between “Van Halen II” and “Women and Children First.”

Q: Early reviews say the new music sounds like early Van Halen. What’s your take?

Clark: I’d say that’s very accurate. Hardcore fans know about this, but there is something out there called the Gene Simmons demo, where Gene Simmons recorded them in L.A. and then flew them to New York to record at Electric Ladyland studios. Van Halen’s first album is called “Van Halen I” by fans. Well, this demo is called “Van Halen Zero.” There are about six or seven songs they’ve taken and kind of reinvented. It’s really quite interesting.

I would say Wolfgang (Eddie Van Halen’s 20-year-old son and the band’s bassist) probably had a lot to do with them going back to the basics. He’s very much a fan of his father’s pre-Hagar music.

Q: How does Eddie sound?

Clark: This is the guy who blew you away the first time you heard “Eruption.” The tone has changed a little bit, but the energy and the playing is like the old Eddie.

Q: What about Wolfgang? A lot of fans are still loyal to Michael Anthony.

Clark: There was a time I wasn’t sure about Wolfgang, but he’s earned that spot. The fact is he sounds incredible and he’s proven why he’s got that job.

Michael Anthony is an interesting cat. He was always the guy in Van Halen no one could ever remember his name, at least until he got that Jack Daniels bass. There was David Lee Roth, the Van Halen brothers and then the other guy. … He does have the voice that meshed with David Lee Roth on some of those great choruses, like “Jamie’s Cryin’” and “Dance the Night Away.” The absence of those vocals does change the sound a bit.

I think if it was 1985 and you’re putting the band back together, it would be inexcusable not to include the guy. But it’s not. It’s 2012. I think most fans who are fans of the original lineup will not let Michael’s absence keep them away. Then again, there is no issue Van Halen fans don’t take sides on — we argue about everything. Essentially, Michael Anthony has chosen a side. He’s in a band now with Sammy Hagar. Fans of the Hagar years will go see Chickenfoot, not Van Halen. And I’ll tell you something else, they’re going to hate this album.

Q: You mean there are fans of the Hagar years?

Clark: I thought their strongest record with Hagar was the first one, “5150,” which is one I like very much. I think that was the last time we’ve heard the kind of fire from Ed on guitar that is on the new record. Really, I think a lot of that was stuff left over from the David Lee Roth years. This record erases the stain of Sammy Hagar from Van Halen’s legacy in 13 tracks.

Q: So, does the new record make you even more excited for the Feb. 20 show?

Clark: I really hope they play some of the new songs. I think we all have to remember that these guys are almost 60 years old. This is not going to be David Lee Roth from the “Jump” video. When they did the reunion tour in 2007 and 2008, there was a novelty there, but in some of the tracks there wasn’t the energy. Judging by this record, I think there’s more energy and more cohesiveness among the band and it will probably show in the performance. Hey, if you’re a 60-year-old guy and you’re going to play “Hot For Teacher,” which is a little creepy to think about, well then you’d better be all in for it.

With what I’m hearing on this record, I would be surprised if this is the last new music we hear from these guys.

February 7, 2012 at 9:53 pm Quote #3927


Just finished listening to it and it is beyond my expectations. Felt like I was 18 again and playing this in my 76 Gremlin. A real trip through the past!

February 10, 2012 at 12:06 pm Quote #4211


Medium Awesome: The Return of Van Halen
Sifting through the confusion about the rock legends’ new album
By Chuck Klosterman on February 10, 2012

When I saw Van Halen at Café Wha? in January, I was operating from a position of accidental enthusiasm. I didn’t think I was even going to a concert, to be honest; I halfway expected to show up at the venue and find myself sitting through a press conference punctuated by an acoustic rendition of “Me Wise Magic” (or something of that order). But then I realized the band was going to play for real, with actual amps and electricity, in a claustrophobic basement. I got excited. And then they played, and then I got really excited. And then I went home and immediately wrote a 2,000-word review, and then I woke up the next day and realized the review I’d written made absolutely no linear sense, so then I immediately wrote another one, this time with my corpus callosum intact. And then (AND THEN) I kind of stopped thinking about the show entirely. I stopped thinking about the future of the band, or the fact that they were releasing a new album in February. Instead, I spent two weeks listening to old Van Halen albums and returned to my life. I started to wonder if maybe I’d spent more time worrying about Van Halen than any reasonable man should, and if maybe I’d written more sentences about Van Halen than any member of society could possibly need. I thought to myself, Maybe I should just quietly enjoy this music. Maybe this should become an interior process. But then it occurred to me that it doesn’t make a lot of sense to spend my life writing about things I don’t understand when there are things I actually do know about, which obviously includes Van Halen albums.

So … A Different Kind of Truth.

It’s a record, man.

Let me open by saying that this is not a good name for an album. (It’s not a terrible name, but worse than a simple number or a series of numbers and not much better than a combination of numbers and capital letters.) I should also add that I’ve read many reviews of this album and I agree with most of them; in other words, I think this album is better than I expected (and certainly better than most reunion efforts), but not as strong as any of the old Van Halen records I traditionally adore. A Different Kind of Truth is really two EPs: Five (or maybe 5 ½) songs reworked from 1976, and eight (or maybe 7 ½) songs that are new creations. The conventional wisdom suggests the ’76 songs are awesome and the new songs are adequate, and this (of course) is roughly true. What’s most surprising about the fresh songs is how reminiscent they are of David Lee Roth’s solo career: “Blood and Fire” and (the excellent) “You and Your Blues” really belong on 1988′s Skyscraper. “As Is” has an Eat’em and Smile vibe (even the guitar playing). “Tattoo” feels like the third single off A Little Ain’t Enough, and “Stay Frosty” is uncomfortably close to 1998′s DLR Band. I’m not sure how this happened; it’s entirely possible that Roth has more musical ideas (and more force of personality) than most people give him credit for.

I realize everyone wants to compare and contrast A Different Kind of Truth to the rest of VH’s catalog,1 but that’s the wrong prism to employ. The two better metrics are literal (i.e., how the old songs compare to their original incarnations) and hypothetical (i.e., how the new songs compare with whatever one imagined they had the potential to be). First, the old stuff: The tracks sound good, but not as good as the ’76 demos. This is not because the band got worse; in most ways, they got better. But modern albums don’t sound the way they did in 1976, and particularly not recordings that were produced as cheaply as that 10-track demo. The most crucial aspect of Van Halen — more than the virtuosity or the attitude or the cocaine — is Eddie Van Halen’s guitar tone. It’s the most jarringly singular guitar tone anyone has ever produced (EVH calls this the “brown sound,” which never seemed accurate to me … but it’s his sound to name). The finest Eddie Van Halen tones are found on 1978′s Van Halen, 1979′s Van Halen II, and those ’76 demos (now referred to as “Van Halen Zero” in bootleg circles). The fact that he can still shred is secondary. Rolling Stone critic and Grantland contributor Jon Dolan once told me that the core problem with Eddie Van Halen was that his solos were “way too Astroturf,” and I begrudgingly understand what he means — at times, there is an inflexible, synthetic aftertaste to all the finger-tapping and pinballing. Either by accident or on purpose, Eddie galvanized the universal belief in metal circles that playing fast was the only way to prove you were playing well (a collective assumption that lasted from the summer of ’79 until the advent of Slash). Sometimes his competence is repetitive. But his leads are almost always propulsive, and you can’t really criticize his tone; the only thing you can say is that sometimes that tone is better and sometimes that tone is worse. And it was better in ’76 (at least to me). It was better when it was analog. I also find the group’s decision to change the lyrics on those old songs a little ridiculous. Why turn a song called “Big Trouble” into “Big River”? What is the purpose of twisting the phrase “Put Out the Lights” into “Beats Workin’”? Such adjustments aren’t a crime (obviously), and the band can do whatever they want (obviously). But it’s clearly not fooling anyone, and it raises a lot of unnecessary questions. For example, they did not change the title of “She’s the Woman”. Is this because that particular message is somehow more meaningful, or is it because the phrase “She’s the Phantom” never occurred to anyone in the studio?

Still, it must be said: These are competitive songs. They’re loose, effortlessly heavy, and better than anything the band has made since “Cabo Wabo.” I suppose some will argue it’s cheating to rely on old stuff, but that makes no sense. Is there anyone on the planet who feels Eddie Van Halen isn’t inventive enough? This is not something that needs validation.

Which brings us to the new stuff.

It’s not great. That doesn’t mean it’s awful or humiliating or anything to get upset about — it just means that none of this new material is within the airspace of “Panama.” It’s not MJ with the White Sox, but it’s MJ with the Wizards at the end of a six-game road trip. The playing is tight, because Van Halen would never release an album that wasn’t hyper-professional. But a song like “Honeybabysweetiedoll” is just overstuffed with notes. It’s more impressive than enjoyable. This is my theory: When Sammy Hagar wrote his autobiography and described Eddie and Alex Van Halen as broken, booze-filled corpses (he compared EVH’s home with Valerie Bertinelli to the mansion from Grey Gardens), it motivated Eddie to get clean and re-crush society. The power of spite fueled his desire to prove he was still Godzilla. And — to his credit — he does seem totally recovered. The intro on “China Town” is like a condensed, economical version of the opening to “Mean Streets.” So why don’t I like it more than I do? Probably because it actually is what it sounds like — a condensed, economical, conscious replication of something that used to be an organic extension of his genius. It’s no one’s fault. Eventually, everyone becomes who they always were.

As for the rest of the group: Wolfie Van Halen gets an “A” and Alex Van Halen gets an “A-,” but only because we’re grading on a curve and AVH has never performed poorly on any song I’ve ever heard. Roth’s effort is tougher to quantify. Whenever you write about Dave, there’s always an unspoken responsibility to note his “limitations as a vocalist,” but that misses the point. That’s an issue for American Idol. Gary Cherone had very few “vocal limitations,” and nobody in North America likes Van Halen III. Nobody likes John Corabi more than Vince Neil or Steelheart more than Hole or Stick It To Ya more than Powerage. Roth sounds the way the singer from Van Halen is supposed to sound, so he only competes with himself. He is, as we’re all well aware, exceptionally adroit at talking over the breakdown. Sometimes he can be self-indulgent, although that’s kind of like accusing Newt Gingrich of being too political. To a degree, Dave gets a lifetime pass just for proving that humans like himself can exist in reality. The only way he could ruin a Van Halen album would be by not participating.

I’ll be as straightforward as I possibly can: I don’t know what I’m trying to express here. My feelings are mixed to the point of being meshed. Going into A Different Kind of Truth, I unconsciously suspected my takeaway would be, “This is a bad album, but I love it nonetheless.” My actual sentiment is closer to, “This is a good album, but I just don’t like it, no matter how much I try.” And I’m disappointed in myself for feeling that way, somehow, which only proves that the things I understand most will always confuse me forever.

February 10, 2012 at 3:59 pm Quote #4226

Van Haggis

I think this was well worth the wait! Well done guys, great to hear Eddie back in top form!!!! See ya in Vegas!

February 11, 2012 at 8:46 am Quote #4300


By Rob Sheffield
February 9, 2012

We’ve earned this, right? When David Lee Roth and Van Halen went down their own separate mean streets in the Eighties, who paid the price? We did. Van Halen fans everywhere have suffered through the years, waiting for this reunion. We don’t need it to be Fair Warning or Van Halen II. We don’t even need it to be Diver Down. We just deserve a break.

Well, as the man used to say: one break, coming up. Van Halen’s “heard you missed us, we’re back” album is not only the most long-awaited reunion joint in the history of reunion joints, it is – against all reasonable expectations – a real Van Halen album. It’s sonically closer to 1984 than to 5150, but it’s closer to 1980′s Women and Children First than to either – no synth glop, no ballads. Eddie always liked to compare the band’s sound to “Godzilla waking up,” but this is the real deal. And the old lizard sounds hungry to chomp some power lines.

A Different Kind of Truth is the first Van Halen album since the Nineties dregs of Balance and Van Halen III, which were just humiliating Styx rips. But Eddie has rediscovered his guitar and unplugged the synths, as if Roth’s presence reminded Eddie who his band is named after. Since there’s never been a single Van Halen fan in history who secretly wished Eddie would put down the guitar and play more keyboards, this is a coup. Especially because Eddie’s solos have the fluency of his early Eighties playing – just listen to him stretch out on “Big River” and “Blood and Fire.”

If the songs are based on 1970s demos, that was a wise move, because wherever these 13 tunes came from, there isn’t a single Waldo on the bus. The tempos are atomic-punk fast, letting Alex Van Halen rock out on the drums for the first time since his flaming-gong days. Original bassist Michael Anthony is missed for his bottom end, and even more for his kicked-in-the-nads harmonies. But Wolfgang Van Halen, Eddie’s son, acquits himself superbly – he definitely doesn’t flunk if anyone asks, “Have you seen Junior’s grades?”

As for Diamond Dave, the gods only made one of him, because they couldn’t take the competition. Now this is a rock star, except no other rock star would try to get away with this many cornball one-liners (“It’s looking like the city towed my other apartment!”). He’s lost a high note or two, but the “stone-cold sister soccer moms” he pursues in “Honeybabysweetiedoll” probably like him better this way.

Toward the end, Roth reaches down between his legs, eases the seat back and shifts into “Stay Frosty.” It’s not just the show-stopper – it’s a four-minute anthology of everything that rules about Van Halen. It begins as an acoustic country-blues goof, then switches into metal bombast, as Eddie’s fingers and Roth’s lips take turns showing off. “Stay Frosty” ends with the trick Van Halen did better than any band ever: the crashing power-chord-and-drumroll finale, which goes on for 30 insane seconds. It’s ridiculous. It’s obnoxious. It’s awesome. This moment alone sums up why the album needed to happen. We’ve earned it. And so have they.

February 12, 2012 at 11:33 am Quote #4407


Van Halen — A Different Kind of Truth: A Review
February 11, 2012
By Kenneth E. Oquist

David Lee Roth is back in the line up on Van Halen’s new release A Different Kind of Truth, and this rocks! Some people don’t know what to think about the song “Tattoo”. It sounds like Van Halen to me. It will sneak up on you. “She’s the Woman” is a great rockin’ tune — a solid tune on a solid release. “You and Your Blues” is up there toward the top of the list on this release. I like this one a lot. “China Town”, although not frenetic, has a quick pace to and will pump you up. The whole release will. “Blood and Fire” is one of my favorites — instantly infectious and a great song.

“Bullethead” is a short, fast paced rocker and a fairly good song. “As Is” — I will take it as such since it is classic Van Halen as only David Lee Roth can bring. “Honeybabysweetiedoll” doesn’t fool around, it just delivers. It features a quirky but charming lyrical delivery. Although not the best, “The Trouble With Never” fits here with the rest of these songs and features an interesting guitar. “Outta Space” moves along quite swiftly and rocks quite well, as they all do.

“Stay Frosty” has an unusual acoustic beginning and becomes a nice, nonsensical, no nonsense rocker. Can I say that? If that doesn’t make sense, it doesn’t have to. It just has to rock and it does. “Big River” has some nice percussion alongside excellent drumming — another solid song. “Beats Workin” features more solid drumming and it’s indeed key to the reason why this rocks. This finishes an excellent return by Van Hallen to the now music scene with a four and a third star effort.

February 21, 2012 at 3:17 pm Quote #5616


The Curious Case Of Van Halen
The Lefsetz Letter

The Curious Case Of Van Halen

The album is FANTASTIC!

At least that’s the buzz. I may have been the only person who liked “Tattoo”, but all the fanboys love the album.

But nobody’s buying it. It sold only 187,494 copies in its debut week. And it’s not lighting up the Mediabase charts either, “Tattoo” is number 26 at Active Rock and “She’s The Woman” is number 40.

But people love the album. On Amazon it’s got a four and a half star rating, which is extremely rare, even the most popular albums settle in at three and a half.

Now if you grade on a scale, “A Different Kind Of Truth” entered the chart at number two, beaten only by Adele. So, if you’re someone who enjoys rankings, you can take pleasure in this.

But the sales number is piss-poor.

In other words, the old paradigm is dead.

You know, the one that began in the SoundScan era, twenty years ago. Where your project was front-loaded, where you amped up the publicity to get a good first week number, to get retailers to stock the CD. And if you got a high number, you were on your way, if not, and you were an established act, you were dead.

But now recording income is no longer the primary revenue stream. It’s just a piece of the pie. Albums are advertisements for the tour. And based on reaction to “A Different Kind Of Truth”, Van Halen will be able to tour for years to come.

In other words, if you weren’t going to go to the show, if you’re not a Van Halen fan, you can completely ignore “A Different Kind Of Truth”. But amongst those who care, who’ll lay down a hundred bucks for a ticket, word is spreading, Van Halen is back.

In other words, if you’re playing to everybody, you’re wasting your time. Don’t worry about either pleasing or offending everybody, just think about satiating your core.

All the criticism has gone out the window. That the band recycled old riffs, that “Tattoo” was a disappointment. Now that everybody can hear something, opinion can change instantly.

And where you listen is Spotify.

Which is why you want to be on Spotify.

Because you want to have a chance for your music to be discovered. Word would not be spreading if everybody had to lay down in excess of ten bucks to hear “A Different Kind Of Truth”. Look at that sales number, most people aren’t. But fans are ECSTATIC!

1. Focus on the music.

People thought “Tattoo” sucked, but they think the whole album is great. “Tattoo” is forgotten and now Van Halen is riding a high.

2. Don’t front-load your publicity.

It’ll only be a matter of time before you read about an established act’s momentum deep into their album cycle. Music is not movies, here for a weekend. Music is forever if done right. Think about making it that way, like you want it to last.

3. The recordings are an advertisement for what else you have to sell.

Used to be the recording was the end all and be all. Hell, labels only garnered this revenue. Now the music is only the beginning. I don’t think music should be free, but given the choice between selling an album for ten bucks plus or giving it away I’d say to go the latter route. You can’t sell tickets, you can’t sell merch if people don’t hear the music.

4. Short term thinking is dead.

Don’t think about this tour, but the two or three after it. By putting out a great album, Van Halen cemented its future business. There may not be stories in the mainstream press, but the fans know.

5. Ignore the news cycle.

It’s brief and your career is long.

6. America likes to forgive.

Well, not Chris Brown. But assuming your only offense is lousy music, great stuff can change people’s impression instantly. We’re all looking for great stuff, and there’s very little of it out there.

It’s a new game. Although Van Halen got a big check from Interscope, I don’t think the label was necessary. Larry Solters could get them publicity on his own. Dave loves to talk, news outlets love to listen. And with physical retail on its last legs, anybody can get on iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, et al.

As for radio… Van Halen’s never going to cross over to Top Forty, and that’s the only format that sells music in vast amounts.

And the band is not lighting up the Active Rock chart, which wants younger bands.

In other words, everything the label can provide, other than cash, Van Halen doesn’t need.


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