Wednesday, April 22, 2015

bus vibes #2 - van halen (proper version of band)

hi there

yep, still listening too, or if you like, getting down to some vibes on the bus this week rather than reading, look you see. so far so good, really, although today i was at a bit of a loss as to what to select to listen to. no such issues, quarrel or wrestle yesterday, however, as i tuned in to the magic of the proper version of Van Halen.

as the music of proper Van Halen comes from a time when quality, not quantity, was paramount to an album. we didn't have all this digital stuff to tell us how long an album or song was. we didn't care. what this means today is that i was able, in the duration of my travels, to listen to two Van Halen albums with considerable comfort.

i started off with the last album that proper Van Halen recorded, 1984. weirdly, and like totes this never happens, that Wikipedia thing has its facts wrong. they state that it was released on Jan 9 1984. it was in fact released on Dec 31 1983, to satisfy the strange wish of Eddie Van Halen that the band release an album every year. 

proper Van Halen, as you have no doubt worked out from the above, means the band with David Lee Roth on vocals. and my, was he on vocals on this album.

is this album any good, then? oh hell yes. it's one of the greatest rock albums ever made; the personification, if you like, of "all killer no filler". every damned track on this album, even the minute long, Vangelis / Moroder influenced 1984 opening track is boss. people at the time, i recall, got upset about the amount of synthesisers used on the record, but time has proved that this was the right thing to do. quite a strange thing, this album - very much sounding of its day, yet today still sounds so very fresh and exciting. but is it relevant? who cares, it's rock, it's just meant to be rock.

the album is best known, perhaps, for Jump, a song that the royalties off of alone has probably seen the band collect insane levels of coins of money every day. depending on the deal signed.but there's more to the album, much much more. well, with the album being about 40mins, according to the ipod, that much more.

the highlight for me, and for a great many other people in this world, is Panama. how great is this song? it perhaps says it all that 31, or 32, years later, people are still deliberating whether or not the title of the song refers to the country or a car. my view? who cares? the way that Roth sings/screams Panama is one of the most amazing things ever, and reason enough for the song to exist alone. it took an awful lot of self consciousness and will power not to singalong with Dave as i listened on the bus.

want a taste of the sound of Panama? of course you do. here you go, although i would encourage you to go and seek out a better quality recording than this.

awesome, is it not? Panama is the kind of song you want to put in the CD player, press the "repeat track" on the deck for, turn up the stereo and just let it play all day, man. with no easy access to a CD player at this point in time, i might well just do the equivalent of that with the ipod tomorrow.

other highlights? it has a song called Hot For Teacher on it. yes, that's how awesome the album is. beyond the fact that you probably couldn't get away with calling a song that these days, it has the most amazing drums this side of Keith Moon on it.

i don't kind of, i very much do wish that there was a new band like Van Halen around. talented musician, great vocals, awesome sound. i suppose the closest we have now is Kasabian, who are brilliant, but their vocalist just isn't in the David Lee Roth league. no vocalist, i suppose, is in the David Lee Roth league. Sammy Hagar certainly wasn't; and to this day the fact that Eddie "Edward" Van Halen considered him to be a perfect replacement for David Lee Roth causes distress for me and many other fans. was it that Eddie didn't notice what made his own band so awesome?

the era of Hagar in Van Halen saw many, many bad songs recorded in the name of the group. also, some incredibly stupid decisions. like, for instance, calling one album For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge. the idea, presumably amusing for a moment, was that the fans make an acronym of that name. in reality, however, why would you (a) want to call your own album F*** or, more worryingly, (b) by default end up calling your album either Rape or Underage Sex? the Hagar era of a once great band is, then, best left well alone. 

on the way home, then, i went all the way back in time to their debut, simply titled Van Halen but every now and then called Eruption on the basis of that being the instrumental on the record and Eddie Van Halen's proclivity to name the albums after the instrumental track on them.

any good? yep. it has Runnin' With The Devil on it, pretty much the song that every rock band ever wished they had done. there's also an amazing cover of You Really Got Me on it, as well as gems such as Jamie's Crying, Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love and, and, well, everything on it.

this album wasn't really all that big a success on release, coming as it did in the midst of the disco revolution. it barely scraped into the top twenty. however, one has to remember that at this time you had to sell a couple of hundred thousand copies just to do that. how does that compare to sales figures today? put it this way - if Noel Gallagher, who really likes coins of money, had managed to sell just 10% of the amount this one does every couple of years, he would not all of a sudden consider an Oasis reunion financially attractive from an artistic point of view.

despite their never being any fancy special edition, "remaster" or anything like that, it is estimated that this record clocks up about 100,000 sales every year. good. i hope it inspires some rock and roll dreams in doing so and, somewhere, a band comes along that has the same effect that Van Halen did on the fans. maybe it already has, and i simply wasn't the target market.

so, that as the vibes as they were on Tuesday. today? nothing came to mind, so i put some Marillion on. tomorrow? not sure, perhaps some Nilsson. i will find out tomorrow; you will no doubt find out not long after.

hopefully any Van Halen (proper) fan reading this feels that i have covered the sheer excellence of the band and given them due praise appropriately.

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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