Tag Archives: Michael Anthony

Runnin With The Devil/Noel Monk (Book Review)2017

 

So here we finally get 32 years after former Van Halen manager Noel Monk gets the heave-ho from our favourite two twisted dutch brothers Eddie & Alex Van Halen the book(Runnin With The Devil) which chronicles  Noel’s first hand account of trying to harness in Van Halen during the years of Monk’s  managing tenure of the band.(1978-85).

Now if your asking why now  32 years later after being fired would a book come out now. Well as Noel himself writes a final settlement back in 85 meant no publishing a book for years…so it’s now time!

Basically it boiled down to this. Noel managed(tried to) while everything else around it seems was a shit show to say the least!

Speaking of shit shows Noel was actually the road manager for the Sex Pistols on there ill-fated 1978 tour of the United States when after two weeks they were sent packing back to England. Noel had to deal with Sid Vicious & Johnny Rotten so I guess that was a good as any training ground for what would become Monk’s gig with Van Halen!(only it lasted longer than 2 weeks managing Halen)

Monk was jobless after the Pistols gig and but in no time was hired as Halens Road Manager once the debut self titled Halen album hit the streets in 1978. Halen at the time was manged by Marshall Berle who was canned once the band started selling albums and at the end of the tour everyone  realised they were $1.2 Million in debt.  VH also learned quickly that all the dressing rooms that you destroy and all the limo rides/paying the road crew etc comes out  of your pocket at the end of the day. The fact that Berle had Halen sign a crappy record deal also didn’t help his cause. Berle got tossed and hooked up with another L.A act and that would be RATT.

Cool to read that there first ever tour was playing third on a bill with Journey and Montrose. Van Halen and Monk figured it out pretty quick that they were selling a ton of tickets yet playing third on the bill which meant for Halen small dressing room/small stage space/hardly any soundchecks yet the debut Halen went Gold in 3 months so Monk and Crew would throw huge backstage parties while Journey and Montrose would be playing their show much to the chagrin of Journeys management.

Basically Halen didn’t give a Fuck about anything back than. Noel writes that the camaraderie between the band members was the best as it was the “Us against everyone” philosophy. Over time he writes to no one’s  surprise  that evaporated!

If anyone out there ever meets Steve Perry ask him if he likes guacamole!

So Monk begins his tenure as the Captain of the S.S Halen. It’s amazing he didn’t totally lose his own marbles keeping this boat afloat but at the end of the day Ed and Alex made Noel walk the plank.

Course the book is filled with ton of stories and that’s  what we want right?!

Drugs and Alcohol  which to no ones surprise is featured predominately throughout. It’s all here Weed/Coke/Booze these dudes were wired tighter than a top but they all had one goal in common and that was World Domination.

Everything is over the top back than especially when Lead Singer David Lee Roth was taking over (back in the early 80’s ) as the best front-man in Rock. Not vocally perse but with the acrobatics that was part of his stage routine. Offstage though was a whole other story. One of the interesting reads  of the book is in regards to how they travelled early on. Halen would fly commercial flights from city to city and it was Monk’s job to get the troops down to the lobby to catch their flights. The last one always to show up was Dave. Monk for a while thought Roth was being an ass as he wouldn’t pack, his hotel room would be a disaster and Monk would have to get Dave to the lobby where the rest of Halen would be continuously pissed at Dave for taking his time.

After a few flights this way Monk realised that Roth was afraid of flying as a Monk points out Roth always wanted to be in charge of everything. Sitting on an air plane Roth had no control.

Everyone knows that by 1981’s Fair Warning album there was tensions between Roth and the Brothers. Monk points out it started back in 1980  during the recording of Woman & Children First.

Monk writes that indeed a “Musical Rift” was starting to happen between Ed and Dave(SHOCKER!) back in 1980 when  problems started…

Monk goes into detail about the music business as well. When VH was about to release  VH 2 in 1979 he was called into the Billboard offices and was told by a high-ranking official where they would like the soon to be released album debut on the charts. Monk states he was stunned as he was told they could come in the Top 10 if they chose to. Monk was quick to say how about the mid forties so it would look like the album was rising instead of debuting high and sliding down the charts. Payback for the chart debut would be made by VH in Billboard….

How about some Payola? Yep, Noel writes in  great detail about when 1981’s Fair Warning went to gold record status and stalled in sales (there were no real “single like” tracks on the guitar heavy Fair Warning record) VH/Monk were freaking out so as Monk got summoned to Warner Brother records, someone told him on the side if they wanted Fair Warning to start selling than VH would have to cough up $200,000 of their own money and pay certain stations across the States $5000 each to get the album played at which VH did, not happily mind you but it worked and Fair Warning went Double Platinum.

Early 1982 Warner Brothers is begging for Halen product. VH has nothing new to offer so they record Pretty Woman and the single takes off which no one thought it would as Pretty Woman was released just to keep the Halen name out in the public. This is why 82’s Diver Down was half covers/half originals as it was recorded in about 3 weeks and rushed out due to the  single shooting up the charts!

These kind of stories actually fascinate me more for as we all know the Party Deal of VH.(  I still like to read about Krell Wars that Roth/Ed would indulge in )

Monk describes throughout the book the chaos that surrounded this band from 1978-85 when Noel’s 30 day contract was not renewed. Yup! You read that right for the 7 years he worked for VH they would only renew his contract every 30 days….

This is a great read into a band that basically was a” Professional Shit Show”. I’m amazed they could record/tour at a clip for that time and not actually kill each other.

1984 the mega album from VH you would think they would be on top of the world with album sales and tickets sold right? Wrong-o! Years of frustration with everyone come to a boil when Roth announces to everyone his cover E.P.

I will leave it at that!

I could go on with a boatload of stories(Roth being forced into a straight jacket being one) but the one common dominator being that we all know is that ex VH Bassist Michael Anthony is indeed the nicest guy in Rock.  Yes he is by all accounts and Monk confirms many a time over how great a guy Mikey is. No smut on him in this book whatsover…

Below is what Roth/Ed and Alex wanted  Anthony to  sign ….. Nice way to treat a bandmate eh?

This a fascinating read. Get This!

Van Halen/For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge(1991)

 

Haven’t smashed out a Van Halen album review in a bit so let’s jump into the Van Hagar fire with there 1991 release For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge album or as every one call’s it F.U.C.K.

Who knew back in June of 1991 when this record hit the streets that there was internal strife in the band. You had Sammy Hagar/Michael Anthony/Eddie and Alex Van Halen still looking like and functioning like a band to me anyway’s but if you read Sam’s Book Red you knew that was further from the truth as the Halen Bros made Anthony who is everyones favourite guy yet to the Halen Bros he was the kicking bag of the band take a percentage cut in songwriting and such which kudos to Mikey who  sucked it up and just kept going about his business…

So with that said ….

I was stoked and why wouldn’t I be. New Halen/New Halen so this was easily a first day purchase as since I was working I sent my younger brother Todd who was 14 at the time(with cash on hand) to pick the CD up for me and as per protocol since he was on a Rock Mission a cassette tape of the same album for him. Paying for my brothers music as well  was the least I could do as he would always deliver as when  I would get home my new release would be ready to unwrap! Bam!

So with this album Halen hire Andy Johns(RIP). Johns had quite the resume in rock as he engineered a bunch of Led Zeppelin/Rolling Stones records as well as produced stuff by Free/Cinderella and wait for it….two albums by HMO Can Con’s Killer Dwarfs!

 So I knew the production end of things would be taken care of or would they? Hmmmm ….Well the drums sound huge and they should right as Alex Van Halen was a massive player and Johns worked with Bonzo from Zep and we all know how those drums sound on the Zeppelin albums right!?

Andy though I dunno too much partying at the 5150 studios or maybe you had the Halen Bros breathing down your neck constantly about how they want to hear things. The production sounds muddy at times as it’s hard to decipher the Bass it sounds like one big wall of thud. Not clear either kinda trembly  weird..dunno what it was but the sound sounded bizarro. Than again this was nothing new as 1988’s O.U.8.1.2 production sounded all over the map at times.

Anyways my personal bitchin aside F.U.C.K is still a good album and shall we take a gander at the tracks….


1. “Poundcake” 5:21
2. “Judgement Day” 4:38
3. “Spanked” 4:53
4. “Runaround” 4:20
5. “Pleasure Dome” 6:58
6. “In ‘n’ Out” 6:04
7. “Man on a Mission” 5:03
8. “The Dream Is Over” 3:59
9. “Right Now” 5:21
10. “316” (instrumental) 1:29
11. “Top of the World” 3:54

Poundcake,HA! That ol Horn Dawg Sam starts off with some punchy lyrics about getting some Poundcake and not the kind Granny would cook in the oven if ya catch my drift. The big news was that Eddie was dabbling with a Power Drill with an pic attached to the drill and this begins the album with Al charging forward with the drums. (Correct me if I’m wrong but I think Paul Gilbert did the pick drill bit a year before on the Mr Big “Lean Into It” album but Paul never got his due or maybe I got this all wrong) Pretty cool opening song which also served as the tour opener as well. Gotta love Big Rock Dumbo lyrics and Poundcake serves the purpose but when you have EVH on guitar you know the music chops are gonna be up to snuff and by golly they are. Below I posted a rippin great version of Poundcake when Halen played on the 1991 MTV Awards and man they rock the shit outta those yuppies in the front row! This is soooooooooooo Gooooooood! Kinda funny watching this as they all seem happy but AL and Ed you know are thinking what can we do to the Bass Player after the show…

On Judgement Day Ed flexes his guitar muscle and we all scream in excitement as he still shows us all who the Boss is! Sam ditches the Dumbo lyrics and steps up  on this track and sings it real swell as well! The solo is fantastic and Ed does all that crazy tapping that well no one can do and better yet how the hell does Ed think of this stuff?

Spanked reminds me of 2 things! First of all in the credits of the album Ed was credited as playing some 6 string Bass on this song. (Oh oh..watch yer back Mikey)This song musically is creepy Halen kinda sauntering around in your backyard at 2 am looking for dope n booze. Lyrically well…read this for yourself…

“Three dollars, first minute, gosh, man
After that, cost ya four
And she be up for negotiations, mmm hmm
If you call back for more, oh oh oh ah

Now who ya gonna call
When you need that special (special)
Little somethin’, mmm
You can say what you like
It’s all confidential, whoa

All you bad, bad boys
Call her up on the spank line, huh
All you bad, bad boys
Call her up on the spank line, whoa

Hey, all you bad, bad boys
Make a mind blow
All you bad, bad boys (dial 1-900-spanked)”

So what we got here is Creepy Music Halen with Big Dumbo Rock lyrics but Sam is a clever chap as well the song is catchy in a different kind of way.  The second thing is that when I caught this show in Winnipeg(Nov 1991) the reviewer said that Halen played Spanked. Ummm no they did not as I’m a Diehard and that track was not played which proved to me that some of these critics have no idea what the F.U.C.K there writing about! Oh well Mr Reviewer just dial up 1-900-Spanked!

Runaround gets the band back on track and this is another sure fire winner with a super duper excellent chorus and this Runaround has ton of zip in it’s step. Well done after the chaotic creepiness  of Spanked. Sam Halen know there bread and butter and thats tracks like this one.

Pleasure Dome is pretty much a musical number kinda with some Sammy echoey like mumbling and stumbling as the Brothers and Anthony  keep the train a chugging.

Side 2 begins with Alex kicking In ‘N’ Out  and more silliness from Sam I Am. Now before you Hagar Fans (Trust me I’m one also) get all nutty thinking I’m beating up Sam and his lyrics he’s just comes across as a BeachBum not taking his crap too seriously and just living life so can you really blame him. Sam-innuedo are these lyrics for In ‘N’Out.

Man On A Mission is the track no one ever talks about but it’s a pretty good track that builds off of Ed’s Riff’s. Love the guitaring on this track. Pretty cool vocals especially the backing vocals of Mikey. That should come as no surprise though.

This Dream Is Over may actually be my fav off of this album. Ed soars right out of the gate with this track and he lifts right off until Sam checks in with singing. See,give Sam his due as he when he puts his mind to it can write some crafty words, EVH takes this track to the next level come solo time!

At the 92 MTV Awards show Halen cleaned up on some awards with Right Now which has Ed twinkling the ivories but do not be fooled by the piano as Ed supercharges and ramps up during the solo. Actually this was areal cool video and still is….Liked the clip where they show Mikey wanting to make a solo album….betcha Ed and Alex were chomping at the bit…..Still though this is a great song with great lyrics!

316 is a little Guitar doodle from Edward as in the year of 1991 his son Wolfie was born on the third month/16th day….

Ed begins Top Of The World  and the boys all join in and this is a great rock track and was the tour closer for the tour as well. If you listen closely to the end of the song you can here Ed picking a few bars of Jump. EVH does it the right way..he steals licks from himself!

F.U.C.K is a good Sam Halen album. At time the lyrics are loosey goosey but than again like I had mentioned in my OU812 review if Sammy confronted me about this accusation I would tell him Tbone made me say it!

Seriously though this album if the production had been notched up a bit could have been a great album as the songs are there kinda. You got serious stuff and goofy stuff(in the lyrics) so even though Van Halen was maturing age wise they still wanted you to keep them in mind when the Bong N Booze/ Doritos would come out!

ADDED COMMENT…..

Mikey Ladano reviewed this back in 2014 and gave it a 2.8/5 rating….

Here’s my  2 cents worth of a comment ..

Deke
October 3, 2014 at 5:50 pm
Yeah man the bass on here like Aaron said is aweful. The songs for the most part are good except for fruit cake toons like Spanked and Poundcake the music is good but Sam has always had a thingy for big dumb goofy lyrics but that’s who he is,Sam I Am!
Ha…but yeah in 91… I liked this one immensely but in 2014 I lean towards another Hagar/Halen album but I ain’t saying till my Sonic Wave deal..how’s that for a self plug!
But still I would plunk this a little higher Mikey than what U gave it but fair enuff…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Guest Review:Van Halen Live 2004 By Tbone!

Ladies and Gent’s! A few weeks back at Tbone’s house I asked him to jot down a few words at some point on one of the very few shows we haven’t seen together and that was …..(Top Secret as that review shall come at a later date) This past Saturday I was cruising around You Tube and came across some Halen 2004 shows. Hagar has publicly stated and even in his book that Ed was a mess both personally and professionally! Well what better way than to get a first hand account of a life long Halen Fan writing a review who was at one of the 2004 shows…. So I zipped Tbone a message this past Saturday  and said…..”Jot a few words down” Bam into my inbox on Sunday was this great read!

Halen called this the Best Of Both Worlds Tour. I’m not so sure that’s the case….

Take it away Tbone!

July 22, 2004 Saint Paul, Minnesota….

So back in the summer of 2004 my brothers, Randy (Rugg) & Darren (Darr) along with Darr’s son Ryan, went on a trip to Minneapolis/St Paul. Rugg and I had bought tickets to the Van Halen show and Darr and Ryan were last minute tag alongers who just came for the chance to get away.

The show was to feature Sammy Hagar back at the mic and the most commercially successful version of Van Halen was now seemingly back together. Although I personally was disappointed that the brief reunion with Roth in ’96 didn’t work out, this was at least a close second favorite version and was a lot better than the alternative which would have benn “No” Van Halen.

The band was supporting their recent “Best of Both Worlds” Best-of album which featured three new Van Hagar songs, “It’s About Time”, “Up for Breakfast” and “Learning to See”. The second of these being my favorite, as to be honest I can’t really remember the other 2 tunes off the top of my head as I’m writing this. I do remember noticing that Michael Anthony was not given credit for any of these new songs. Although I don’t recall it being a big deal at the time, it certainly became clear why in the months and years that followed.
So off to the show Rugg and I go, and since it’s been almost 13 years my recollection is a little shady at best. For instance I had to look up online that Shinedown opened the show and to be honest I don’t really recall anything good/bad or otherwise about them as the opener.

Then after the usual intermission break between opener and headliner, Van Halen finally takes the stage and opens with Jump. They go right for the big number right out of the gate and it was a pretty decent version as I recall. (Full disclosure: I looked up the setlist online, as I’m 11 days shy of my 50th birthday, and there is no way I am going to accurately remember this from so long ago. Thank you, internet!)

Runaround was next followed by Humans Being, which I was pumped to hear live as this was the first tune of the night that I hadn’t heard live before and also in my mind this song had marked the end of the previous Van Hagar.
Up for Breakfast was a pretty cool tune live as I recall and I like the tongue-in-cheek lyrics to this one.
Anthony’s Bass Solo was his usual Jack-Daniels mixed heavily with sound effects coupled with him lurking the stage like a lovable nut-job.

Somebody Get Me a Doctor was up next followed by Poundcake. As I recall it was probably around this point in the show where Rugg (who also plays guitar) and I started noticing something about Eddie’s playing. He was sounding off on occasion and actually seemed to be hitting off notes intermittently. He also was really hitting his strings hard , like really hard, with some pretty severe aggression. So much so that it could have been this aggressive playing that was making some notes go seemingly sharp. He was shirtless and shoeless as I remember and looked every part the madman. Almost a bit scary.

It’s About Time which I don’t really remember was followed by a fairly typical Al Drum Solo which as I recall was fairly uneventful. Not in a bad way, but nothing crazy happened.
Top of the World, Unchained and Why Can’t This Be Love which are all good live tunes in my opinion were next, and other than us being very focused on Ed’s unusual rough playing by this point, they were otherwise pretty decent versions.

Then Sammy had his solo segment, just Sammy and his guitar doing, Eagles Fly and Deeper Kinda Love. I seem to recall him jamming a bit either before or between songs but can’t specifically remember but it was a pretty good segment of the show, although I’ve always found it a bit awkward for there to be a 2 song Sammy solo show in the middle of a Van Halen show.

Seventh Seal was next which I was pumped to hear live as I never caught them on the Balance tour and I’ve always liked this song.
Then came Best of Both Worlds which led into Eddie’s Guitar Solo. Now normally this is any Van Halen fan’s favorite part of the show. The moment we’ve all been waiting for, so to speak. But this was not Ed’s best solo not by a long shot. I’ve seen them a couple other times live and those times he was spot on. Any of the versions I’ve seen on DVD’s or online concert footage it’s usually more of the same… Lesson’s from the Master. But on this night the solo kind of rambled on like a drunk Eddie in a MTV interview. Lots of very aggressive string smashing which kind of made my brother and I cringe a couple times and actually look at each other like “WTF!” Don’t get me wrong, it was not terrible, it just wasn’t up to the extremely high standard that we have grown accustomed to from the greatest rock guitarist of my generation.

The highlight part of the solo was when a young Wolfgang got up on stage and jammed with his Dad on 316, the song that is titled after Wolfies March 16th birthday and as legend is told, is the song Ed would play to a pregnant Valerie’s belly to calm the future Van Halen bassist. This was the happiest Ed seemed to be the whole night. This was the calm in the middle of the storm.


After the guitar solo I have to admit I think I had trouble really focusing on the remainder of the show as it had become apparent that there was something troubling going on with Eddie. Was it his health? Was he fighting with Sammy? … we didn’t know what it was at the time, but something was off.

Dreams, Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love and Right Now rounded out the show before the band re-emerged to play You Really Got Me and Panama as a first encore and then When It’s Love as a second and final one.

Van Halen shows are like pizza to me. Even bad pizza is still good pizza if you know what I mean. It may not be the best pizza you’ve ever had but you’ll still eat the shit out of it because you love pizza. This show was bad pizza. Better than no pizza but certainly not the Stans’ Jumbo Thundercape (local pizza reference) that I was hoping it would be.
My main takeaway from that show being “What’s Eating Edward the Great?”
Only time would give us the answer.

 

 

DVBeers Review:ChickenFoot/Get Your Buzz On (2009)

image

Cold Beer & Kentucky Fried ChickenFoot….Does it get any better than Cardiac Chicken/Loud Rawk and Suds?

Yup…Here’s another fine instalment of DVBeers…..

So basically I got together with TBone  and we cranked DVD’s at his place! The first one being Triumph’s Live At Sweden Rock.. Which is reviewed here as the first ever DVD review I have done..

Now it’s time for Chickenfoot ….

Here’s the tracks that are featured on the Live DVD performed in front of an Vegas Crowd..

Tracklist
1 Avenida Revolution 5:56
2 Sexy Little Thing 5:32
3 Soap On A Rope 4:14
4 My Kinda Girl 4:54
5 Down The Drain 3:52
6 Bitten By The Wolf 4:41
7 Oh Yeah 6:17
8 Learning To Fall 4:34
9 Get It Up 5:13
10 Turnin’ Left 5:48
11 Future In The Past 6:38
12 Bad Motor Scooter
13 My Generation

In case yer wondering Chickenfoot is Sammy Hagar/Michael Anthony/Joe Satriani/Chad Smith..

You got hand it to Hagar as he’s worked with some pretty damn good Guitar players…Let’s take a moment with a bit of my Yammering and look at these Ax Slingers that Sam has been involved with…

The late Ronnie Montrose where Sam back in 1973 made his debut on a classic  album called Montrose but after a less than stellar followup album Ronnie booted Sam and after some hard solo slogging, Hagar by 1984 was pretty big news with his V.O.A album selling big time which shot him into the Arena’s as the Top Dog..

Following that Sam hooked up with Journey Guitarist Neil Schon who Neil himself was  looking to find the volume knob on his Marshall after being diluted by the Soft A.O.R Mush of early 80’s Journey. Neil found  some heaven in the great H.S.A.S album which was just a one-off. Search for the H.S.A.S song Top OF The Rock. You will not be disappointed!

Course we all know what happened next Sam hooked up Van Halen. They all loved each other for  a number of years and then got divorced reconciled and then divorced again and blah blah blah…

Sam is  not one  to laze around so he went solo (for a second time)but was itching to form a band so he hooked up with VH buddy Michael Anthony who we all know was punted from Halen and they together got together with Chill Pepper Chad and here come’s another Super Duper 6 Stringer in Joe…

Together ChickenFoot put out a decent debut and of course comes the Live DVD and these songs kick it up a notch Live…

Satch is on fire! Joe is more than just a shredder he can dip n slide with the best of them. Look no further than opener Avenida Revolution as Satch does his Boogie and  teaches us how it’s all done on the 6 String.

Now before you start thinking “Is this DVD  just a Guitar Macho Man workout?” Nope…..

My Kinda Girl is a Great Great Rock Track. Sam slams down a great vocal along with Mikey’s great backing vocal driven by Chad Smith’s drums.(Tbone even commented on Smiths Bad Co. T-shirt.in the video) This song oozes cool and Sam is a great live performer as he continuously high fives Fans in the front row. I know this from first hand as back in the day when I seen Sam on 1984’s VOA Tour he turned on the houselights to see and read the homemade banners that were decorated throughout the Duluth Arena.  Many years later on the 1991 Van Halen tour in Winnipeg Sam high fives the front row all night and off to one side of the stage there was about a dozen Fans wearing homemade Juiced For Halen T’s written on a white t-shirt with a black marker and when on of the Homemade T’s was tossed on stage it was a matter of seconds before Hagar put it on and made those fan’s day! That’s all it takes man…a simple gesture….

Ok sorry for the Ramble Flashback but yeah My Kinda Girl is a great track …just watch it for yourself straight from Get Yer Buzz On!

Cool Vs Gah! Round 4….Van Halen..

One I Want Vs How Many Say I

I’m not going to go down the whole Lead Singer debacle in regards to VH as I have written about it countless times so just search under David Lee Roth/Van Halen/Sammy Hagar and my diabolical writings in this matter will rear its ugly head. Actually I wrote something called L.S.D a few months back about bands flipping out singers at such at a speed that’s quicker than Tbone flipping  Finnish Pancakes!

What i’m gonna ramble on about are two tracks from VH3 that featured new vocalist Gary Cherone( Extreme) and for all intent and purposes tanked quicker down the toilet than me chugging  down a bottle of Silent Sam Vodka from way back into a toilet!

VH Mach 3….Featuring…

Eddie Van Halen – guitar, keyboards, backing vocals
Alex Van Halen – drums, percussion
Michael Anthony – bass, backing vocals
Gary Cherone – lead vocals

I think its safe too say when looking at the band members that you can tack on’ Bass’ beside EVH’s name! By that point Anthony was just there…

The production angle is ludicrous as Mike Post (yeah exactly) a guy who had provided the music for the 80s Tv Show Hill Street Blues was brought onboard to co produce with Eddie…

Whut Da Fuk Is Going On Here?

VH3 had some decent stuff on it.

One I Want is a decent track. I dig the flip-flop of backing vocals to lead vocals and that little solo Ed blasts off at the end of the first verse. I posted the live track of this and VH3 cuts across real good live but man look at Alex behind the kit! Dudes all banged up from the shoulders up. Was he going for an Iron Maiden Powerslave look? Dunno but still this is Good VH….Not Great VH….But Good…

Which leads us to the last song on VH3…

How Many Say I is a Ed only piece with  him at the piano doing his singing as well sounding like Tom Waits and basically man this one was a tough  slog through…

At over 6 minutes worth of noodling I realized back in 1998 that this was indeed a EVH solo album from the production down to the Bass playing  to Ed singing lead on a track….

Whose gonna tell Ed no?  New Boy Cherone? Nope…Anthony..Brother Alex..Nope…Mike Post?..Hahaha..

The real clincher was my wife Sue at the time when I put on 3 in our living room and was playing it for perhaps the first time commented to me  when How Many Say I came on with a  “What Is This?”

Exactly Sue Exactly…..

Van Halen/1984

 

Just like yesterday it seems like I was listening to our local radio station 580 CKPR back in December of 1983 as they were playing the new Van Halen single “Jump” at 9pm as they called their show the Top 9 at 9!

I never payed attention to much to the radio station back in 83 and as a matter of fact I still don’t but I had succumbed to the powers of AM radio occasionally as they would get the singles from bands before they hit the record shops! This was how I first heard Love It Loud by Kiss (1982)ironically enough. So with my hand firmly placed on my cassette deck as soon as John Summers(local DJ at the time) announced “Here’s the new Van Halen single titled JUMP I pushed record!

Cast Of Characters-Michael Anthony (bass) Eddie Van Halen(guitar) Alex Van Halen(drums) and David Lee Roth(vocals)

Looking back at that moment I probably had a puzzled look on my face as when Jump starts and you hear Ed play that keyboard synth opening I was like “WHUT?? Where’s Ed’s guitar Man??” Think about it for a sec! I was used to hearing Ed rip a mean guitar  tone on the previous studio records. And The Cradle Will Rock the opening track from 1980s Woman And Childern First  does have keyboard on it but it’s like it was shoved through a Marshall Stack! Speaking of which Woman And Childern First  sounds like the Halen boys loaded up on salsa,beer and party treats and knocked out what I consider to be my all time favourite album ever in about a day!

Fair Warning came next in 1981 and this being the favourite of Tbones . Ed’s guitar here sounds pissed off and gnarly and he further cements himself as Guitar Hero!

Diver Down even with its half originals/half covers concept tunes like Hang Em High and The Full Bug prove that Ed wasn’t easing off the gas with his playing and even though the mighty synth reared its head on Dancing In The Streets that doesn’t count as it’s not a Halen Original!

So here’s Jump and I’m kinda worried! Has Halen decided to go down Journey Avenue and water down the guitar and add more syrup to the keyboards? I really hope not and by golly as Jump progresses Ed shows up nails the volume on his Frankenstein Strat and saves the day with a cranked up solo and saves a young 15-year-old (me) at the time from going bonkers!

1984 was easily a first day purchase when the full album was released in January of 84.

So after the prelude, leadoff single and album opener(Jump)…

It was right to second track PANAMA that I felt at ease as Ed and Al begin the proceedings with Guitar  and Drums and there’s Mr Reliable Michael Anthony showing up slamming a straight ahead bass line keeping things simple and not overstepping his boundaries with the brothers Van Halen. Dave on the other hand knows no boundaries and he spills out all kind of lyrical magic on this album! Sly Horn Dog lyrics not withstanding Dave in 1984 was the Top Guy Live and even on this album vocally speaking he’s pretty damn good.

TOP JIMMY is a Boogie Woogie powerhouse of a track! Ed starts off with some chill picking and its intercepted by Sabbath like bolts of Doom just for a few seconds or so and viola here’s Dave telling us all about Top Jimmy the King Of Cool and I love the clean guitar tone Ed uses until the solo where he steps up and nails out a heavy metal like solo and then goes back to his clean slick style. Anthony’s backing vocal meshed with Dave’s lead vocal work brilliantly together. Under 3 minutes long Top Jimmy is easily a piece of musical art!

Ending side 1 DROP DEAD LEGS for me is the sleeper track here! What a classic. Ed makes noodling on the guitar sound cool and Alex man I dig his drumming on this tune(love the sound of the cowbell at the beginning). It’s what keeps this song moving forward. Dave is very creative with the lyrics here. ‘Throw My Rope,Loop De Loop,White  Teeth, Betty Boop!”  Not a ton of lyrics written here but the less is more philosophy works excellent on this song. Ed’s guitar here sounds deadly! Check out the video posted…..Crank it!

Side 2 begins with HOT FOR TEACHER and more importantly Alex’s drums sounding like a torpedo being launched from the U.S.S Halen and Ed joins in a proves that without a doubt that he’s the King Of The 6 String. He dips and dives and makes of us wanna be a guitar hero! This is VH Boogie Woogie Power Rock 101. Anthony punches the bass steady kinda like Cliff Williams from AC/DC on speed and Dave is once again in all his glory love his “Aww The Clock Is Slow!” drawl. He’s Hot For Teacher and has it Bad …Soooo Bad! Ed’s solo is Highway Robbery Like! A classic indeed and Halen though can play around with a synth but when push comes to shove they can blast these kinda tunes right out of the park!

If you want Synth! You Got it! I’LL WAIT hands down for me is some of Dave’s best studio vocal work ever! I dug this track in 84 and like it even more in 2016! Dave sounds wounded here in his voice! Great track filled with Synth until Ed delivers the solo and Alex plays some real cool fills. I’ll Wait is a bona-fide classic and I Betcha some of you’s out there didn’t know that Michael McDonald from The Doobie Brothers got a co write credit here.( First time ever that some one other Dave/Ed/Alex and Mikey got a slice of the Halen pie!) Think I’ll Wait as a Doobie Brothers song on steroids!

Ed and Alex begin the proceedings and ramp the amps back to 10 and throttle down a real scorcher of a ditty called GIRL GONE BAD This song breezes riff cool and it just blasts into another orbit when solo time comes as Ed tosses more gauntlets toward us the listener as Mike and Al steady the rhythm boat! Ahoy! This is another down n dirty classic!

All good things must come to an end so Halen enters the HOUSE OF PAIN with its Black Sabbath like Doom wobble and once again Van and the Fella’s keep it heavy but in an old school kid of mid 70s Rock mode!

We knew when released that we were listening to a classic in the making and Halen delivered in spades. Look no further than my pal Tbone.Up till that point I taped him the Halen stuff as soon as I lent him my copy of 1984 on vinyl the next day he went out and bought all 6 Halen cassette releases at various musical outlets in Tbay! That my friends is what we would call Impact!

Just clocking in at over 33 minutes and that’s all it takes to drop down a  album that is still classic nowadays as it has that timeless  sound that only Halen could deliver.

Rock 101/Van Halen Rising By Greg Renoff

image1978. AC/DC puts out the classic Powerage. Judas Priest release Stained Class. Scorpions drop on the public Taken By Force. What do these three albums have in common?

They all stalled on the American Charts! None of them cracked the Billboard Top 100 unlike the four long hairs from Pasadena California calling themselves Van Halen.

David Lee Roth/Eddie and Alex Van Halen along with Michael Anthony did what AC/DC,Judas Priest and Scorpions couldn’t do in the United States and that’s sell records.

Van Halen’s debut titled simply enough Van Halen got as high as 19 on the Billboard Album Charts selling over 2 million copies. If your thinking overnight success not really and Greg does a very in-depth detailed look at the years leading up to 1978 and the release of the debut album. That’s as far as the book goes and it’s a awesome representation of the early years and struggles of Van Halen. Believe it or not they worked there asses off and it as we all know paid off in spades but getting there for these guys was tough.

Van Halen Uprising explains it all!

Greg did his homework here. Well over 200 interviews with people associated with the early years of Van Halen. Plus as an added bonus there are pictures  of  the earliest incarnations of Pre VH of photos who played with Ed and Alex  and also pics after Anthony joined.(pics I have never ever seen) Too be honest I’m not big on unauthorized books except for this one as Greg interviews key people to give this book a ton of legitimacy like Pete Angelus (who toured and worked for Halen and with Roth when he went solo) Neil Zlowzer(photographer) and the two biggies to gain street cred with me and that’s Ted Templemen(VH’s Producer) and Michael Anthony(VH’s  bass player)

One  of the many great things about this book are things that I didn’t even know about Van Halen is that Ed and Alex had auditioned David Lee Roth as far back as 1971 and he failed 4 auditions with the brothers. I’m not gonna give it away but the friction between Roth and  Van Halen was boiling long before 1978 rolled around. Some of the earliest band names of VH were Trojan Rubber Company,Genesis(until they heard about the British Genesis) and Mammoth(which I had read about).

The Brothers VH went through a few bass players before settling on Michael Anthony and the real deal of this book for myself is Greg goes at detail when VH opened for U.F.O and better still when the one and only Gene  Simmons shows up and begins working with VH! For every Kiss and Van Halen fan out their  was always talked that Gene had Ed play on some Kiss demos around the time of Love Gun. Greg goes into great detail on this time frame of the Simmons/VH alliance fallout and  disappointment that VH were dealt with. (Course we know the ending) this part is the Meat And Potatoes of the book!

We also get to read how Warner Brothers Records came to signing the band. It’s all here. No stone is left unturned!

What’s another real slick move on Greg’s part is his breakdown almost dairy like of the recording of the debut album. Greg places dates and this is not a bunch of B.S as its Ted Templemen (VH’s producer of the first 6 studio albums) giving the timeline of the debut albums recording.

Of course there’s also the tour details of Van Halen’s first Arena Tour opening for Black Sabbath and countless others. Also In true record company fashion you can read about the sordid details of how VH sells 2 million copies of their debut yet owe Warner Brothers 1 million dollars!

Welcome to the biz boys!

This is a totally awesome read! Hunt this book down its well worth it. Greg digs deep with interviewing a ton of people associated around VH(Templemen) and in VH (Anthony). I have even seen with my own eyes Billy Sheehan and Gregg Bisonette (Roths Bass Player and Drummer on the Eat EM And Smile Album and Skyscraper releases) even call Uprising a must read!

I could go on but Nope…buy this book and support a music fan (Renoff) who took the initiative to tell the story of Van Halens origins to a fan (myself) who has followed Van Halen for 36 years yet new little about their  pre 1978 history.

Bravo Mr Renoff!