Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Van Halen and David Lee Roth reunite for their first album in 28 years: February 7, 2012

28 years ago, Van Halen were arguably the biggest rock band in the world, riding high with 1984 and its lead-off single “Jump”, a #1 hit in the U.S. Fast forward a couple years and frontman David Lee Roth was out, replaced by Sammy Hagar. The Red Rocker kept the band on top, helping them top the Billboard album charts with four studio albums over the next decade. When Hagar left, VH figured they could strike magic once again, but struck out with the Gary Cherone-led Van Halen III album in 1998. While the group still came out with a couple greatest-hits collections and did a couple tours, it looked like III, the band’s poorest received album in both sales and critical acclaim, might be the band’s tepid hurrah.

However, as evidence that all fences can be mended, Roth returned to the fold for a tour in 2007 (although original bassist Michael Anthony had been replaced by Eddie’s son Wolfgang) and now this, the band’s long overdue 12th album. Comeback projects rarely prove to be necessities, but Truth is, according to AntiQuiet, “a true return of the ‘80s cock-rock overlords.” WK SleazeRoxx said, “regardless of how much bad blood has been spilled over the years, of how insane Roth and the Van Halen brothers can act, one thing is certain – when they get together magic happens.” WK

As evidence of the pent-up demand for new VH with Roth as the frontman, lead single Tattoo was the #1 selling rock song in the U.S. Canada, Finland, and the Netherlands a day after it was released to iTunes. In its first week of release, the video got two million hits on YouTube. WK

“Obsessive fans instantly noted the similarity between [that song] and ‘Down in Flames,’ a 1977 song played live, but never released on an album.” HF It isn’t the only case of one of the album songs reaching back into the group’s past. Big River is “based on the oft-discussed ‘Big Trouble’ demo which has circulated amongst fans for years, and was actually originally intended for Diver Down and then 1984.” CS She’s the Woman dates back to a 1976 demo that signed the band to Warner Bros.” MR and Beats Workin’ “culls its energy from past demo ‘Put Out the Lights’, another lost gem off that Warner Bros. tape.” CS Blood and Fire “has ties to the band’s score for the 1984 film The Wild Life;” CS Bullethead dates back to 1977; and Outta Space began as “Let’s Get Rockin’” in 1976. CS

Hagar accused the band of just recording old songs because they couldn’t write new stuff. MR However, as Roth told the Los Angeles Times, the band deliberately made an attempt to link to its past “by taking the most promising chunks of coal from four decades ago and polishing them into diamonds.” HF It “turns out to be a savvy move, as they not only saved promising songs, but re-oriented the band, pushing them toward their essence” AMG as they use “their history to revive their present.” AMG

In the end, “it’s pretty clear that these dudes put in the hours.” MR “Fans will revel in Eddie’s killer licks;” CS even “if he’s no longer in tip-top form, he’s still close enough that there are mnay moments throughout the album to dazzle Eddie wanna-bes.” HF “Alex Van Halen remains the meatiest drummer in hard rock.” VS and while Roth’s “voice is not the soaring, singular rock wonder that it used to be, …he’s still got plenty of horsepower under the hood” HF and that he “has been waiting for years to really let loose, and A Different Kind of Truth offers him plenty of opportunities.” CS

This “could have been a train wreck of epic proportions and it’s far from it.” HF It has just “enough flashes of past brilliance” HF and is “a frequently thrilling return.” GN “Against the odds, the party metal kings are back and blazing.” GN

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