Friday, December 21, 2012

WORTH IT IN 2012: #19 - Van Halen

Van Halen
A Different Kind of Truth

So sue me, I've always been a Van Hagar partisan, which might make me ineligible to write about music with any authority, sort of like my continuing love for Daughtry's voice. (Seriously, he doesn't sound like everybody else!) I could bore you with the long list of journal entries devoted to '80s VH power ballads, the time I found a discarded OU812 cassette outside the school and painstakingly took it apart and respooled the tape so it'd play and then drew a beautiful album sleeve depicting my jam "Feels So Good" (little stick dude on an island throwing a bottle), or how singles from Balance (BALANCE!) got me through my wisdom teeth exile. 

Um, what were we talking about? Right. I was thinking my Van Hagar partisanship might explain my ongoing love for the creamily misogynistic chorus of "You and Your Blues." This album is not Van Hagar, it's the return of David Lee Roth and some semblance of caring from the rest of the band. Little Wolfgang is on bass, and each of the three components -- Roth, Eddie, and rhythm section -- has more personality than most of the people on this list. The album's not higher because its tunes sort of peter out, but when they coalesce into hooks, the hooks sound like they could only come from these actors. Roth's lost his little grace-note shrieks, but he still swoops into choruses like a freakin' LOCOMOTIVE driving through SOME KIND OF PORTAL FROM ANOTHER WORLD (i don't even know what that is), Eddie busts out singable solos and unsingable freakazoid solos and fills and riffs that comment on whatever Roth is doing, and the really very powerful rhythm trax would be worth hearing by themselves. Just to clarify -- it doesn't sound like the Hagar years, because Roth would never allow that. But the best of this is continuous with the best of the Roth years.

Way better than Torche's Harmonicraft.

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