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Van Halen

A Different Kind Of Truth

This reunion needed to happen. Van Halen is better with Dave. Dave is better with Van Halen. They proved they could both survive without the other, but they just aren't as good separately. Van Halen wrote some catchy songs with Hagar and made a lot of money, but so did New Kids on the Block, and I don't care about them either. And Dave's solo material maintained his manic musical personality, but he lacked borders. VH reigns Dave in a bit. Once he was on his own and calling all the shots himself, his charisma was still there, but all of his eclectic influences bubbled to the top and changed the core of the sound. I like his lyrical ideas and his unique blend of stuff, but when he went solo, he could just go completely out of the box and lose the rock part all together. I love the rock tinted by old blues; old blues by itself ... Not so much. So this gives me the best of both worlds — Weird Dave in the confines of rock music. It seems impossible to believe that it's been over 25 years since the last (REAL) Van Halen album, but that's how long it took. It would have been asking a lot to expect them to sound like they did back in 1984 and it would have been outright unrealistic to think they could recapture the more energetic, raw, guitar-oriented sound that made them famous before that, but that is just what they did. A lot has been made of the reports that they used demos from the 70s to make these songs. Sammy Hagar made jokes about them not being able to write new material, and initially I might have agreed that it was some kind of a lazy shortcut, but in hindsight, I think it was kind of brilliant. Let's face it, this whole reunion was kind of a damned if they do, damned if they don't thing. People have been screaming for it, but those same people would rip it apart if it didn't work. There was no way anything they made wasn't going to get compared to what they did together 30 years ago, and as anyone who has ever written music can tell you, it is not easy to get yourself back creatively to where you were at another time. But this worked. This actually sounds more like Women and Children First than 1984 did ... They did a better job of recapturing that sound in 2011 than they did in the early 80s and (hopefully) that will give them a good base to build on to move forward on the next one. On the downside, Dave has definitely lost the upper register of his vocal range. I would prefer he just stop trying to hit those notes and rework the melodies to something more in his comfort zone, but that is what it is. Time stands still for no (or at least very few) men. For his part, Wolfie was never going to get out of his dad's shadow as a guitarist, but he has a real chance to make a name for himself as a bass player. As for the missing Michael Anthony, like I said, I don't think the bass playing has declined as a result of his absence, but his back-up vocals are definitely missed. It's a shame, because they did everything else right, and I think that would have really put the cherry on the sundae, but I think when he sort of publicly sided with Sammy on the VanHalen/Sammy split, he was pretty much banished by the brothers VanHalen and now that he's been replaced by the offspring (thus keeping it in the family and effectively creating a 3-to-1 “VH block” to cancel out any DLR ideas that stray too far from the reservation) I don't think that we'll ever see him in the band again. So while it's not perfect, I think this was better than anyone could have hoped for, and I for one, really hope we can get at least one more album out of this group before they implode again. -- Scott

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Track Listing

  1. Tattoo
  2. She's the Woman
  3. You and Your Blues
  4. China Town
  5. Blood and Fire
  6. Bullethead
  7. As Is
  8. HoneyBabySweetieDoll
  9. The Trouble With Never
  10. Outta Space
  11. Stay Frosty
  12. Big River
  13. Beat's Workin'

BAND MEMBERS & GUests

VOCALS: David Lee Roth
GUITAR: Eddie Van Halen
BASS: Wolfgang Van Halen
DRUMS: Alex Van Halen

RECORDING INFORMATION

LABEL: Interscope
PRODUCED BY: John Shanks
Ross Hogarth
Van Halen
RELEASE YEAR: 2012
“Nobody gonna take my car, I'm gonna race it to the ground. Nobody gonna beat my car, it's gonna break the speed of sound. ”