What does it sound like?:
So here’s your Van Halen starter for 10. No conferring. If you can buy a box set that contains the 6 CDs that VH released between 1978 and 1984 for £16, how much would the 13 singles released in Japan across the same time period be? Why, of course – £121. But I would also have accepted $130 – the cost of the red vinyl set exclusive to Rhino, including original artwork and a nice storage case.
But let’s not quibble about cost. The 26 tracks featured on these singles represent some of the very best of Van Halen. Their ground breaking first album – I’ve no truck with anyone who disputes Eddie’s iconic status – accounts for 3 of the 13 including “Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love” backed by “Runnin’ With The Devil” and the monstrous “You Really Got Me” cover.
“Dancin’ The Night Away” was the first single – and best track – from the uneven second album, backed with the more throwaway “Spanish Fly, whilst the follow up pairs the more clunky bombast of “Somebody Get Me A Doctor” with a very flat sounding “Women In Love”. “And The Cradle Will Rock”” from “Women and Children First” is coupled with “Unchained” from next release “Fair Warning”, which shows the band back in the groove (if a bit less interested in releasing singles)– a wall of sound guitar with pin sharp vocal harmonies.
The “Diver Down” album was short on playing time (just over 30 minutes) and heavy on cover versions – five in all, 3 of which made onto singles. “Pretty Woman” gives Dave Lee Roth a chance to ham it up, backed by the close harmony and fairly pointless “Happy Trails”. Marin Gaye’s “Dancin’ In The Streets” gets an unremarkable makeover, with B side “The Full Bug” the real star track, with the band in full tilt boogie mode.
By “1984” (the album and the year) Roth and Eddie Van Halen were at odds over the latter’s interest in synth and keyboards, and the final 4 singles reflect the divide. “Jump” gave the band a US number 1, with B side “House of Pain” drawing from their early 70’s guitar metal roots. “I’ll Wait” is synth heavy and forgettable, inexplicably favoured over Eddie’s fretboard fireworks on the B side of“Girl Gone Bad”. “Panama” saw the band chart again and with Lee Roth heading for the hills the set is concluded with some old school VH in “Hot For Teacher” backed with “Little Dreamer” from their first album.
This kid of release is clearly for the fanboi’s who are thick of wallet, but there’s some top-notch tunes there nonetheless.
What does it all *mean*?
Eddie Van Halen – much copied, never bettered
Goes well with…
An evening wearing your best dancing shoes.
Might suit people who like…
More a case of only suiting wealthy Van Halen fans.