Van Halen - 1984 1984

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ARTIST: Van Halen
ALBUM: 1984
LABEL: Warner Bros
SERIAL: 9 23985-1 (vinyl), 9 23985-2 (CD)
YEAR: 1984
CD REISSUE: 2000, Warner Bros, 9 47741-2 (remastered)

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: image

LINEUP: David Lee Roth - vocals * Eddie Van Halen - guitars, keyboards * Michael Anthony - bass * Alex Van Halen - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 1984 * 02 Jump * 03 Panama * 04 Top Jimmy * 05 Drop Dead Legs * 06 Hot For Teacher * 07 I'll Wait * 08 Girl Gone Bad * 09 House Of Pain

Background

Regardless of the messy circumstances surrounding Roth's departure from Van Halen, Roth claiming to have walked away while the Van Halen's claimed they fired him, the loss of Roth could not have been more untimely.

'1984' finally saw the band back to their best after the ill conceived 'Diver Down' fiasco of 1982, which although contained several excellent original compositions such as 'Little Guitars', The Full Bug', 'Secrets' and 'Hang 'Em High' was marred by the plethora of covers that masked the bands talent.

Many feared the band was treading dangerous ground, and as one of the premier hard rock acts of the day the concern was palpable! '1984' returned Van Halen back to the top of the heap, with hit singles released at will and ending up selling ten million copies and counting.

It ranks as one of the 80's most enduring classic albums and indicated the band was only just beginning. In retrospect Roth's eventual self or forceful removal is one of rock's greatest tragedies.

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The Songs

In the past some interesting conflicting ideas have surfaced about the making of this album, some claiming Roth was displeased with the continual adding of keyboards in the mix which he feared would lead to a lighter sound, while others suggest Roth wasn't happy with the bands heavier direction.

It's easier to believe the former based on '5150' but for those who are familiar with '1984' it would be superfluous to say that the keyboard use is always constant, when in reality it shines through on only several tracks.

Those include the experimental opening synth lead in '1984' which recalls the likes of 'Sunday Afternoon In The Park', and the immortal 'Jump' which contains enough keyboard and synth work to warrant AOR comparisons, but when really scrutinised is heavier than that, witness Eddie's much loved solo and the chorus which has surely earned this one of the most overplayed rock anthems of all time, with good reason.

'I'll Wait' is the other contender, and another hit for the band, proving Eddie's worth as a keyboard magician that equalled his guitar prowess to some degree. The interplay is genius like, never had the band sounded this polished and well produced.

Aside from this it's some of the bands most impressive hard rock and near metal of their career and completely removed from Van Hagar and the sound that lineup adopted.

'Panama' and 'Hot For Teacher' are guaranteed radio listens daily, both with huge Eddie riffs, 'Hot For Teacher' perhaps the fastest the band had played to that point, with Eddie continuing to redefine guitar flash and Roth's ever present offbeat humour and delivery at its peak.

'Drop Dead Legs' has a giant swagger with the classic backing harmonies making an impact. 'Top Jimmy' is a three minute exercise in how to pack as much melody and instrumental stylings into a song in such a short space.

'Girl Gone Bad' and 'House Of Pain' (a relic from VH's demo days) are often ignored, but capture Van Halen at their most genuine hard rock guise, particularly the latter with its blistering guitar solo at pace halfway in, the evidence of why Roth era could not be surpassed, totally uncontrived and honest rock of true legends.

In Summary

A perfect album, known by all perhaps, but one that hasn't aged or become redundant despite years of over abuse by US radio.

Following an extensive tour Roth recorded an ep 'Crazy From The Heat' that contained several hits, but according to Roth was recorded as the rest of Van Halen was inactive and in no position to record, which did not sit well with hyperactive Diamond Dave.

This is what led to Roth leaving and seems to be thoroughly acceptable. It's hard to believe Van Halen could have ever recorded '5150' with Roth and with the bare bones of that album that were presented to Roth as he has stated, then one could agree with him leaving as it was not suited to his style.

Therefore classic Van Halen went out on top with a legendary album that Van Hagar never came close to emulating, ending the chapter of one of rock's greatest acts.


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