1978 a ceremonial changing of the rock gods, American rock behemoths Aerosmith where on a cocaine fueled melt down, and Kiss was about to drop a disco album. British bands like Led Zeppelin and The Rolling Stones seemed like dinosaurs. Enter Van Halen, kings of the Sunset Strip. Discovered by Kiss’ Gene Simmons in 1976, Van Halen produced their first demo later that year and in 1977 got signed to Warner Brothers Records. By 1978 America had Van Halen fever with teenage guitar players trying to copy Edward Van Halen’s signature tapping riffs found on the track ‘Eruption’. Skip ahead six years to ‘1984’ the last year and album with lead singer David Lee Roth.
Twenty eight years later we have the first ‘real’ Van Halen album since ‘1984’ with ‘A Different Kind of Truth’ (Interscope). Upon first listen I was very happy to see that guitarist Eddie Van Halen’s signature licks are scattered all over the record along with David Lee Roth’s signature vocals. Drummer Alex Van Halen, the backbone of the Van Halen sound is also in tip top shape. The most surprising aspect of the new Van Halen record however, is Wolfgang Van Halen. Wolfgang replaced Michael Anthony in Van Halen and shows tremendous skill on the bass throughout the album, but especially on the track ‘She’s the Woman’. But with Eddie Van Halen as a father you knew he’d be good.
The album consists of thirteen tracks including the single ‘Tattoo’ which features very strange lyrics written by Mr. Roth. But hey what else would you expect from DLR. The second track ‘She’s The Woman’ features a great opening guitar and bass solo, followed by exemplary guitar work by EVH throughout the song. The next track ‘You and Yours Blues’ which lyrically alludes to many songs including ‘Red House’ by Jimi Hendrix, ‘19th Nervous Breakdown’ by The Rolling Stones, and ‘Communication Breakdown’ by the almighty Led Zeppelin. One of my favorite Tracks is the sixth track ‘Bullethead’ head which lyrically also alludes lyrically to Bob Dylan’s ‘Blowing in the Wind’ with the line “How Many roads must a man walk down, before he admits he’s lost.” The Most Surprising Track off of the album is ‘HoneybabySweetiedoll’ which is a darker song whose guitar parts sound like they could have come off of a Pantera album. One of the most disappointing tracks however was ‘Stay Frosty’ which sounded as if they were trying to recreate ‘Ice Cream Man’ a John Brim song covered on the bands eponymous debut album.
Overall ‘A Different Kind of Truth’ is a triumphant return of David Lee Roth. The album also shows us something that guitarists have known along. Never doubt Eddie Van Halen.
Check Out the Music Video for Van Halen’s ‘Tattoo’