Van Halen is one of those bands that I can remember as far back as when I started listening to music. Like the Police or The Beatles or Journey or Taco or Run DMC, or the Boss, Van Halen was one of those bands I remember vividly listening to, starting in 1983. I was 6, and being shuffled back and forth between home, in Gaithersburg, and the woods (for summer day camp,) which then wasn’t too far… Luckily the counselors did the transportation and they had decent taste in music.
My rebirth (the 2nd wave of VH, for me) was in high school when my sister started listening to good music. She happened to get in to Van Hagar and it was a rebirth for me.
The final wave (3rd wave) happened on a bus in the middle of Portugal between Lisbon and The Algarve. I was on the verge of losing my shit (literally) and probably was dehydrated. Luckily there was a clean toilet on the bus and Diamond Dave took me where I needed to go, most notably with 1984. Thank goodness that was the only time I got “sick.” And it was probably simply motion sickness.
- Dance The Night Away (II) – If Diamond Dave was good for something, it was the incredibly smart pop-sense he had. This song is a perfect example. It has a hook that was made for radio airplay and multi-platinum status. The chorus is great and horribly catchy. You’d have to be lifeless and dead to not single along. Not to mention a killer Eddie and Alex (guitar and drums, respectively) breakdown in the middle which I guess could be called a bridge. I love me some bridges.
- You Really Got Me (Van Halen) – Normally covers, I feel, are cop-outs. Especially sprinkled on records as filler. But this record and single really gave a rebirth to recording techniques. Not to mention guitar playing.
- Runnin’ With The Devil (Van Halen) – Devils and rock & roll seem to go hand in hand. It’s cool like that.
- Jump (1984) – I vividly remember hearing this album for the first time. This song came in and I was listening so hard for the guitars (sans the guitar solo) that I honestly believed Eddie was so good that he could “tune” this guitar to sound like a synth.
- Dreams (5150) – While not a wildly huge fan of Van Hagar, I feel that Sammy gave VH a few classics.
- Love Walks In (5150) – If only for the synth patch and the “finger drifting scratch” – whatever they call that. This song is really glides and we all know I love gliders.
- Everybody Wants Some! (Women and Children First) – Hey, if it’s in a John Cusack (Better Off Dead) movie, it’s gotta be good. Sadly Women and Children First didn’t introduce to us anything we hadn’t heard on their debut or II. But it was still a solid single.
- Dancing In The Streets (Diver Down) – Again, I am not a fan of covers, but the Halen always seemed to do them effortlessly. And the synth/guitar line that Eddie lays down is incredible. How he comes up with this stuff is beyond me.
- Unchained (Fair Warning) – Quite possibly their worst selling record of the Diamond Dave era. I base it solely on Richard Seireeni’s horrid album cover art. What was WB thinking?!
- Jamie’s Cryin’ (Van Halen) – No (or few) overdubs. Just a rock band, Ted Templeman and a few 2nd engineers. The way it’s supposed to be. Unadulterated.
A footnote: In retrospect, Alex’s drums are the most strange sounding drums ever recorded in a rock band. Take a listen to his bass drum in the mid to late 80s. It sounds like a high-pitched roto-tom. I know he used roto-toms, but this is just weird. I know it was the 80s, but come on! However, it does lead me to believe that Alex, by knowing or not, invented the bass drum sound for all the future neu-metal/rap bands to come. Alex might have been the innovator of the “click” bass drum that dominated so many records in the 90s. It’s hard to tell, but it seems clear to me.