David Lee Roth - Eat Em And Smile

edited August 2 in year-1986

ARTIST: David Lee Roth
ALBUM: Eat 'Em And Smile
LABEL: Warner Bros
SERIAL: 7599 25470 2
YEAR: 1986
CD REISSUE: Reissue list..

LINEUP: David Lee Roth - lead vocals * Steve Vai - guitars * Billy Sheehan - bass * Gregg Bissonette - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Yankee Rose * 02 Shyboy * 03 I'm Easy * 04 Ladies Night In Buffalo? * 05 Goin' Crazy * 06 Tobacco Road * 07 Elephant Gun * 08 Big Trouble * 09 Bump And Grind * 10 That's Life


There might not have been a bigger rock band in the world than Van Halen in 1984. Their album '1984' sold millions and millions, they had a number 1 hit in the U.S. and two other Top 20's, and their tour that year was huge.

But all was not well in the band. Roth took advantage of some downtime for the band and released an EP in 1985, 'Crazy From The Heat', that was a radical departure from the Van Halen sound. He officially left VH in 1985, and this was pretty major news. After all, this was Van-Freakin'-Halen we're talking about here.

VH snapped up Sammy Hagar in what many thought was a pretty good move. All eyes and ears were curious as to what Diamond Dave would do. Well, he assembled a top-notch band, largely in an attempt to out-Van-Halen Van Halen, it seemed.

The Songs

When you're a new artist (or breaking out of a certain context) and releasing a new album, the lead single and the lead track of the album go a long way towards setting the proper tone of what you're trying to accomplish.

'Yankee Rose' was both. The start indicates that there may just be a hard rocker here, with the call and response between Roth's voice and Vai's guitar. Sure enough, all fears that Roth had forgotten how to rock are dispelled. Vai has a different style than Eddie Van Halen, but the dude can shred. The song is missing a proper scorching solo, but it is good to hear Roth in fine form.

The album has some other tracks that don't deviate too far from earlier VH, namely 'Shyboy', 'Elephant Gun', and 'Bump And Grind'. I find that 'Goin' Crazy' is akin to the style of 'Diver Down', although I hear some similarities to what Genesis was doing at this time, odd as that sounds - there are some vocal inflections that remind me of Phil Collins.

Songs like 'Ladies Night In Buffalo?' and 'Big Trouble' have a nice groove. 'Tobacco Road' is a nice blues exercise. And of course, he had to include a couple in the same vein as the aforementioned EP in 'I'm Easy' and 'That's Life'.

In Summary

Roth succeeded in proving that he was an integral part of the Van Halen sound with some songs that sound more like early VH than anything VH did with Hagar. And he proved he had more tricks in his bag with the other songs. The musicianship on this album is pretty amazing in places, as you'd expect with the class of the guys involved.

The album was a big success, although not quite at the level of Van Halen (Van Hagar) with '5150'. He kept this lineup intact for 1988's 'Skyscraper', which was another success for him.

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    DaveTDaveT Buenos Aires, Argentina
    edited August 26

    What a fantastic album I hadn't listened in its entirety for years until today. The songs, performances and production are top notch. I cannot choose between this and Van Halen's '5150', both albums are superb in my book.

    I didn't know a cover of Kim Mitchell's 'Kids In Action' (off his 1982 self-titled EP) had been recorded and dropped off the tracklist in the last minute, in favor of Tobacco Road. Nor did I know that Billy Sheehan was in Max Webster for a few weeks. Part of the story can be read in this extensive Guitar World article from 2016.

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    Yeah, this is a great album and was such a statement to Dave's many detractors who expected him to fail outside Van Halen.

    That said I rate Skyscraper even higher, even if it was received less favourably by the press.

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    PatrickHemmingPatrickHemming Tampa Florida

    Love this album. We got two great albums out of the Van Halen camp in 1986.

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    Dave’s first three solo albums were classics and stronger in many areas than the Van Halen albums during the same years. He totally lost it with that crap album in 94 however.

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