SONIC WAVES….David Lee Roth/ Eat Em & Smile


March 1986 and VH lands the first punch with 5150 and of course myself ,TBone and millions others have been served some new material by the Halen camp. And after a few spins the logical question is asked ‘wonder what Diamond Dave has up his sleeve?”


So four months after 5150’s release in July here comes the Roth Army with Eat Em And Smile!  Dave has gone full throttle with a hot-shot line up of musical cats as in Steve Vai,Billy Sheehan  and Gregg Bissonette. This band put together could stand toe to toe with Camp Halen and there 5150 album.

Of course we all know the story after the 99 Ton’s Of Fun tour ended for Dave and company. Dave went a little left with Skyscraper and lost the bass virtuoso (Sheehan) as well…..

But that’s getting ahead of ourselves here. Let’s check on the Fabalous Picasso Brothers and see their response to Van Hagar!

YANKEE ROSE-here comes some drums,bass and Vai goes with his guitar a wha,wha, with Dave going ‘What!!!’ …and were off and Dave kicks in the lead single with the lead song off of the album and we can all breathe a sigh of relief Dave is gonna rock and for me that’s good as I sat out and did not purchase the Crazy From The Heat Ep but TBone did and I figured one copy was enough between the two of us. But yep Dave tells us all about the Yankee Rose. Thanks Dave….

SHYBOY- boom….comes Gregg,Steve and Billy all ripping and soloing off the top and for me it’s like Holy Shit these guys are destroying everything in sight and wow it’s a rocker played at hyper speed. So I guess this is Sheehan’s tune from his old band Talas and two tracks in Dave is telling me ,Tbone and the world that he has the band to take on what he considers the evil empire!(Halen)

I’M EASY- Vai lays down some pretty cool guitar and Dave takes what sounds to me a swing tune and blasts it thru the Marshall amps in the studio. So this is cover number 1 on Eat Em but that’s ok cause it’s like it’s Dave’s own tune like if he wrote it in the back of a cab on the way to the studio.

LADIES NIGHT IN BUFFALO- guess Dave ain’t going to sleep and it’s in Buffalo of all places and what a cool laid back tune. Bissonette lays done some cool chill drumming  and the boys decide to all lay low in this one as Dave is creeping the streets of Buffalo!

GOIN CRAZY- cool tune and funny vid but yeah man this is Dave and the fellas bringing the party to your house via your turntable or cassette deck! Vai and Sheehan after chilling in Buffalo decide to rock it up in the solo section of the song! Funny thing is there some keyboard action buried in the mix and that’s courtesy of Jesse Harms! Who you ask,well Mr Harms was Hagars keyboardist in Sams solo band for many a year and well when ol Hags bolted to The 5150 studios I guess Harms has gotta work right! Goin Crazy indeed!

TOBACCO ROAD- cover number 2 and well whose counting? Ha ,yeah I am but back in 86 I was still listening to Vai doing weird shit with his wang bar and man he’s cool  and like I said back with I’m Easy. Dave can take a cover and Rothize it too make sound like his own! That’s a pretty cool talent to have and by golly back than he did!

ELEPHANT GUN- is basically the show tune extravaganza for all the musical chops provided in this unit. You want soloing this is a one stop shop for some serious ass kicking and hey don’t forget about Dave protecting all the ladies with the Elephant Gun!

BIG TROUBLE- I think one night Dave and Steve went down to the 7-11 to get a juiced up slurpee and  came across some Big Trouble. Dave is in full storyteller mode here and when he gets going on his story telling he can’t be beat man especially back than! Cool song and riffin and soloing and well it’s just a classic track. 8 songs in and it’s all good man!

BUMP AND GRIND- The Roth Army heads to the strip club and Dave tells us that yes his name is cash an carry and he’s a dead ringer for the big first prize! Ha seriously friends, his lyric prowess is all over this tune! So let’s get this straight. The night begins with rolling tobacco with Dave and then he’s chasing women with an Elephant Gun which leads to some Big Trouble by the 7-11 and to cap it of a little ol Bump and Grind at a local watering hole at 3 am! Whoosh call 9-11 I’m coding and can’t keep up but I can hear  TBone yelling in the background at Dave to not make the 911 call!

THATS LIFE- cover number 3 and it’s a Sinatra tune to boot and  the vid is super cool with live shots of the show which Dave never released which for me is one of rocks biggest blunders! Dave nails down a horn section and it’s all good fun. You know Dave ain’t gonna end his album on a downer but rather an upper!

IN CONCLUSION-Dave fired back across the lake to Camp Halen and tells the world that he can still rock with a super star band of dudes with some serious rock chops. For me though I was bummed Roth was out of Halen but I was glad that back in the year of 1986 I got two rock solid releases in 5150 and Eat Em and Smile!

Also of note it  must be said that Roth did a Spanish version of Eat em album called Sonrisa Salvaje in which he sang all the songs in Spanish! That funny Dave always thinking back than with his wallet!


20 thoughts on “SONIC WAVES….David Lee Roth/ Eat Em & Smile”

  1. Wierd, I just listened to this this morning! It must be Rothtober! This is such a jaw-dropping album, Big Trouble is one of my favourite all-time songs. Good point about how he Rothizes the covers, I would always guess these songs were Roth originals from the way they do them. And cool fact about Jesse Harms! I did not know that.


  2. Well done Deke. I haven’t reviewed this yet per se, but I did review the Spanish version:

    What you wrote here plays into the discussion yesterday. What would have happened if Van Halen stayed together?

    Well, we’d have no Eat ‘Em and Smile, and Steve Vai would be far less famous. I’ll take history as it ACTUALLY played out!

    And playing into a review that I finished on the weekend, there’s one tune that they supposedly worked on but didn’t put on the album — a cover of Kim Mitchell’s Kids in Action (thanks to Sheehan’s Buffalo connection).


      1. Cool,hope he reads my Eat em And DEKEs Babble review !
        I’m gonna have to wrap my noggin around Skyscraper and A Little Ain’t Enough and jot down some stuff…


  3. Great write-up, Deke! I appreciate the perspective on the two bands – I never was as conversant in the histories there, so you’re teaching me! Sounds like a great album to me, but I must confess I’ve never heard all of it – probably would know the singles to hear them, though.


  4. Thanks man….back in the day when Halen hit the skids in 85 the print press magazines had a field day with the break up of Halen so I was continuously buying Circus,Hit Parader,Creem,Kerrang anything to read about the dirt that went down!
    Those magazines hosed me out from doing my homework! But I was well schooled in Rock!


  5. Another classic Deke! Nice one! And for readers who may not know, tomorrow (Oct 8) is big Deke’s birthday! Let me be the first to wish my dear friend Happy Birthday… A couple hours early 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks Aaron ! Yep I know,Sloan is here but I’m taking a pass I got the family digs to go to as my parents just came back from being away for a while and it’s hard to get together with my parents with my daughters working etc. If it was the weekend I would be in and so would TBone !
        Maybe next time ….thanks again for the well wishes!


    1. Thanks T,appreciate it and hey man I noticed Darr finally climbed aboard the blog express!
      Figures it took Eat Em review to get him to join, now get Rugg! Ha…
      Glad to have Darr checking in!


    2. Here’s a plan: Take yer family to Sloan! Hell, pile in the car and just all go together! It’s a good time!

      Haha I know, I know. But I’d take my family to Sloan, sure. My Dad would think it was cool enough (though too loud), my Mom would probably go sit in the car after about half a song – not for the music so much as the volume. But they’re big Beatles fans. They’d hear enough to like in all of that.


  6. The heaviest my dad got was into Buddy Holly! My mom as well. They actually went to the spot last summer where Hollys plane went down. So I think Sloan would blow out there eardrums!


    1. Fair enough. We’ve taken my parents to see B.B. King twice (once at Lulu’s in Kitchener, once at Centennial in Saskatoon), and while that’s a pretty different style of music, it was by no means a quiet show. Full band and all that amplification still made for a decent volume! They loved both those times, so I guess I wouldn’t know til I tried….


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