The Old Is Not The New, It’s Just Good
Van Halen came out with a new album about three weeks ago. I rushed out and got it at Utopia records in town. May as well do these things the old way. I know people are downloading these things but being a fetishist (as Rob Gordon would have it) I need to own plastic. I don’t know, if I ever wanted Lady Gaga, I might download that, but a new Van Halen album deserves my full purchasing commitment. The point is to not give into the ravages of time; not surrender to the seduction of the new. If you truly love rock music, there’s no way you’re not going to fork out the money for the CD. Mine even came with a free poster, so suck on that iTunes!
What’s Good About it
The word out there is that these aren’t even new-new songs but re-arranged and re-written old songs, some of which were on that legendary demo tape to Warner Brothers. From the first note to the last, the Van Halen you hear sounds as bristling and energetic as any and all of the early Van Halen records that featured David Lee Roth. And really, that’s what we expect, and that’s what they deliver.
The playing is superb, the engineering is great, the mix is lively, and it just plain rocks. At the heart of it is Eddie Van Halen, still doing his remarkable guitar playing that changed the landscape for guitarists for a generation. The whole package might not sound fresh to music critics, but it sounds real, and lived in. You know, being ‘good’ is fresh enough for me.
What’s Bad About It
Are you kidding me? Uh… It’s not a double album?.
What’s Interesting About It
Well, that’s an interesting title for a start, that poses some epistemological questions. I don’t know how philosophical a bent David Lee Roth has developed – judging from his solo works, maybe not much – but the line evokes two discussions about knowledge. One is whether we can ascertain truth and one is whether truth is multiple and that there can be conflicting, contradictory but simultaneous truth. The song ‘Bullethead’ suggests that reality might be a bit more vague than any definition we give it.
I’m sure the guys in the band aren’t thinking about this sort of thing to much, and yet you get the feeling from the record that fame and success actually wore on them a lot more than they admitted. truth, as they found out was a socially determined construct, so they want to throw it back on us saying absolutes are questionable.
The long absence between ‘1984’ and this album for David Lee Roth is the stuff of rock legends so I won’t go into it here, but it has to be said, he’s slipped right back into the soundscape like he had never left. It makes you think, if it’s so damn easy, what took you guys so long to get back? The answer to that might be the GFC wherein a lot of bands have hit the road again in order to scare up some cash after investments were burnt in the GFC.
At least this is the silver lining on that very black cloud – and it shines too.
Going Black And White
I’ve noticed over the years that when bands want to hit the reset button, they come out with black and white video clips. ‘Tattoo’ and the other bits of video that’s been released are all in black and white. Unfortunately it reminds me of the time The Who took on Kenny Jones to replace the deceased Keith Moon and came out with ‘You Better You Bet’; The time the Police came out with ‘Every Breath You Take’; and the time U2 went all bluesy and did ‘Rattle ad Hum’, half in black and white. I don’t know if it really means anything but the black and white thing always seems like a statement, but ends up being something else.
The band is resetting in the sense that they haven’t had an album out since 1998, and they’re doing this one with David Lee Roth so it stands to reason. The problem is that the Who only really had one more album in them and then stopped putting out material for along time, and the Police really only had the 1986 remix of ‘Don’t Stand So Close To Me’ left in them. It’s really not a good sign. Speaking for myself, I haven’t done anything since I worked in black and white, so… I’m just saying.
“Can He Still Do The Splits?”
I’ve had a few people ask this question of David Lee Roth. Because the question never crossed my mind, it kind of took me by surprise that quite a number of people are asking this question. I don’t understand how this comes to the forefront of people’s minds when it comes to David Lee Roth rejoining the band, seeing that my own consciousness of the band totally revolves around Eddie’ guitar playing. I mean, it’s like asking if Dennis Rodman still has weird hair when the subject of the Michael Jordan era Chicago Bulls comes up. I mean, yeah, no, maybe, but were you watching what that team did at all? David Lee Roth’s splits? Come on, this is Eddie’s band. 🙂