Nobody rules these streets at night but me! NOBODY!
THE ATOMIC PUNK!
I brought my PENCIL!! Gimme something to write on, man!
If The Rolling Stones had Eddie Van Halen as their guitarist and a hyperactive, insane combination of Freddie Mercury and Ronnie James Dio as their frontman (David Lee Roth). And a really good drummer. And whoever's on bass. Probably the most fun hard-rock band you'll ever hear. They even got their own Guitar Hero game!
Van Halen began their path towards super-fun rocking in Pasadena in 1972, with its initial lineup containing the Van Halen brothers (Eddie on guitar and backing vocals, Alex on drums), David Lee Roth on vocals and Mark Stone on bass. Stone was thrown out in 1974 and the band's "classic lineup" took shape, with the Van Halens, Roth and Michael Anthony on bass and backing vocals.
After being seen by two Warner Bros. Records people at a concert, the band got a contract with WB and started working on its debut album. Produced by Ted Templeman (who stayed with the band for its first six albums), Van Halen became a smash success thanks to the combination of Eddie's hyperactive, lightning-fast fretwork and Dave's flamboyant, Large Hammy Ace persona. It contained a few classic songs, such as the band's headbanging cover of "You Really Got Me" by The Kinks, the Image Song "Runnin' with the Devil" and Eddie's mindblowing solo "Eruption". They toured nearly a year in support of the album, notably opening for Black Sabbath and completely blowing them out of the water in a time when Sabbath were going through their first Dork Age. Come to think of it, rock music itself was in a Dork Age at a time when disco was still dominant (if you believe the old narrative), and Van Halen is seen one of the bands that stopped it from collapsing under its own weight (along with, you guessed it, Punk Rock, natch).
Van Halen quickly made a followup, the aptly-titled Van Halen II, which was another success and gave the band its first hit, "Dance the Night Away". Women and Children First also followed a year later, containing more kickarse hard rock but also showing Eddie's first and most definitely not last use of keyboards on a VH album (on "And the Cradle Will Rock...").
Tensions started rising around the time of Fair Warning between Eddie, who wanted to write more serious and complex stuff, and Roth, who didn't have patience for this and wanted to carry on with the fun rocking. Combined with cocaine and alcohol abuse on Eddie's behalf, Warning was a Darker and Edgier album that was much less fun than the previous three and, unsurprisingly, was met with much less commercial success, though it did get good reviews and spawned a hit with "Unchained". They rebounded with the cover-heavy Diver Down a short while later.
Van Halen hit their undisputable peak with 1984. Their highest-selling and most critically acclaimed album, 1984 saw the band reconcile their anthemic rock/metal with Eddie's love of keyboards, and gave them their most enduring hits: the keyboard-powered "Jump", the hyper-speed hilarity of "Hot for Teacher" and the Epic Riff-driven "Panama". As a testament to how good it was, 1984 was only kept off the #1 position in the US because of Thriller .
Roth left Van Halen on April 1, 1985, replaced by former Montrose vocalist Sammy Hagar. Drastic changes took place: Templeman left along with Roth, their logo was slightly changed (the lines extending from the "VH" letters now formed a sphere) and their sound changed. While 5150 retained some of the party rock sound they had become famous for ("Summer Nights", "Get Up"), Van Hagar slowly drifted away from fast, rockin' fun and became a mainstream, pop-rock band with lots of keyboards and Power Ballads.
Hagar left the band in 1996. After a temporary reunion with Roth, Gary Cherone from Extreme was recruited as their new frontman. The resulting album, Van Halen III, was roundly panned by everybody. After a hiatus, a second tenure with Hagar and a complicated situation, Anthony was forced out of the band, replaced by Eddie's teenaged son Wolfgang, and Roth returned in 2007. The band has released a new album, titled A Different Kind of Truth, in February 2012. In what may strike fans as a bit of déjà vu, Truth ended up peaking at #2 on the charts, kept off the #1 spot by 21.
- Van Halen (1978)
- Van Halen II (1979)
- Women and Children First (1980)
- Fair Warning (1981)
- Diver Down (1982)
- 1984 (1984)
- 5150 (1986)
- OU812 (1988)
- For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge (1991) (geddit?)
- Balance (1995)
- Van Halen III (1998)
- A Different Kind of Truth (2012)
- Album Title Drop: Women and Children First is namechecked in "Could This Be Magic?"
- Fair Warning is namechecked in "Mean Street."
- A Different Kind of Truth is namechecked in "Bullethead".
- Band of Relatives: Eddie and Alex from the start, and now Eddie's son Wolf on the four strings (that's right, Diamond Dave is now the only non-Van Halen member of Van Halen!). Eddie and Alex's dad Jan Van Halen guested on Diver Down, playing clarinet on "Big Bad Bill (Is Sweet William Now)".
- Beyond the Impossible: Most of Eddie's stuff at the time, especially in pop music. In the early days, he would even play with his back turned to the audience so nobody could imitate his tapping technique.
- Alex's playing on "Hot For Teacher", too. And pretty much a lot of Dave's acrobatics onstage.
- Big OMG: "Hot for Teacher" ends with one.
- Big Rock Ending
- Car Song: "Panama", even with all the Double Entendres. Roth said that the lyrics came after he was criticized for only writing songs about "partying, sex and cars", which made him realize he hadn't written a song about a car.
- Career Resurrection: Many fans had written Van Halen off at the start of the second decade of the 21st century. After a messy divorce with Sammy Hagar, an album with Gary Cherone which flopped, Michael Anthony's forced departure from the band and Eddie's bouts with alcoholism and cancer. But once Eddie came out of rehab, the band mended fences with Roth and hit the studio to record A Different Kind of Truth the band's first album of new material in 14 years. The album charted all the way up to #2 (same spot as 1984), spawned a hit single and returned them to the limelight, featuring some of Eddie's best playing in decades.
- Catch Phrase: Dave's gonna tell you one time!
- Cover Version: "You Really Got Me" and "Where Have All the Good Times Gone?" by The Kinks, "Ice Cream Man" by John Brim, "You're No Good" by Betty Everett (but popularised by Linda Ronstadt) "Pretty Woman" by Roy Orbison, "Dancing in the Street" by Martha and the Vandellas, "Big Bad Bill (Is Sweet William Now)" by Milton Ager and Jack Yellen, "Happy Trails" by Roy Rogers and Dale Evans (all DLR), "A Apolitical Blues" by Little Feat (the only cover to make it on a Van Hagar album). In concert they would frequently play "Rock and Roll" by Led Zeppelin, "Addicted to Love" by Robert Palmer, Sammy Hagar's solo hit "I Can't Drive 55" and "Won't Get Fooled Again" by The Who. For many people, their versions overshadow the originals - Ray Davies himself said their cover of "You Really Got Me" beat the original.
- Their producer, Ted Templeman, believed that cover versions were easier to promote as singles than originals, as "half the work (was) already done". So he (and Dave) encouraged VH to do more covers. The direction of the New Sound Album 1984 (and some of the reason for the breakup) came when Eddie got sick of covers (Diver Down had five covers, four original songs and three instrumentals; the band intended the "Pretty Woman" cover to be a one-off single, but its chart success caused Warner to immediately demand a full album, so they were rushed into the studio to record more under label pressure after just having finished touring - not exactly the best environment) and wanted to do things his way, working in his own personal studio, and let VH stand or fall on their own merits (he said "I'd rather have a bomb with one of my own songs than a hit with someone else's").
- Darker and Edgier: Fair Warning. Unsuprisingly it got a mixed reaction from fans... Eddie, however, said in a Guitar World interview that "Unchained" is one of his favorite songs, and that listening to it gives him chills.
- Department of Redundancy Department: "Only time will tell if we stand the test of time!"
- Dress Rehearsal Video
- Dual-Meaning Chorus: "Runnin' With the Devil"
- Egocentric Team Naming: named after brothers Eddie & Alex.
- Epic Instrumental Opener
- Epic Rocking: Their albums as a whole began to experience this after Dave left - see the note below under Miniscule Rocking. As for specific examples: the longest Dave-era song was "Fools" from Women and Children First, at 5:55. Their first song to actually break the five-minute mark was "Cabo Wabo" from OU812, at 7:04. F.U.C.K. had "Pleasure Dome" (6:57) and "In 'n' Out" (6:05). Balance had "Don't Tell Me (What Love Can Do)" (5:56) and "Feelin'" (6:36). Van Halen III has the most, with: "Without You" (6:30), "Once" (7:42), "Year to the Day" (8:34, their longest official song) and "How Many Say I" (6:04).
- Fun with Acronyms: For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge. Sammy actually said he wanted to name the album Fuck as a protest against censorship, but his friend, lightweight boxer Ray Mancini, convinced him otherwise by telling him about the false etymology of "fuck".
- Freestate Amsterdam: The lyrics Sammy Hagar made for "Amsterdam". Eddie and Alex, being born in Amsterdam, hated them (Eddie called them "just stupid" when interviewed by Guitar World), but, since by then inter-band relations were getting so bad, Sammy refused to change them.
- Gratuitous Panning: Templeman's production gimmick was to put Eddie's guitar high in the mix and pan it, either slightly or more blatantly, to the left (or sometimes the right) to simulate a "live" sound. Eddie hated this and got rid of it after Templeman and Dave left.
- I Call It Vera: Eddie's striped guitar, Frankenstrat.
- Iconic Logo
- Intercourse with You: Many of them.
- Intentionally Awkward Title: In addition to For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge, Eddie and Alex first band was named "Trojan Rubber Company".
- Large Ham: Diamond Dave.
- Licensed Game: Guitar Hero: Van Halen
- Lighter and Softer: Van Hagar.
- Long Runner Lineup: Both the Dave and Sammy line-ups lasted over 10 years.
- Mohs Scale of Rock and Metal Hardness: Generally Rank around 5-6. Occasionally drift into 7, or down to 3 or 4. The DLR years on average are much higher on the list than later incarnations, fueling the Broken Base somewhat.
- Now with Dave back, A Different Kind of Truth climbs the scale up again. The song China Town borders on an 8.
- Miniscule Rocking: Their first albums with Dave were unusually short, usually in the slightly above 30 minutes mark (Fair Warning is the shortest, at 30:58 total). This era also gave us their shortest song, "Tora! Tora!" from Women and Children First, barely clocking in at 0:57. Once Dave left and Sammy came onboard, at the same time as vinyls were being overtaken by CDs, their album lengths immediately took a sudden jump (contrast: 1984 = 33:17, 5150 = 43:02) and actually continued to increase with every album until Van Halen III peaked at 65:18. Dave's return seems to have brought the songs back to a more "manageable", 2-4 minute length; in fact, the longest song on A Different Kind of Truth is only 5:02.
- Notable Music Videos: "1984" and "Hot for Teacher" for the Dave era, "Right Now" for Sammy.
- Power Ballad: Sketched out rather early with "In a Simple Rhyme" and arguably "I'll Wait", but it really became a staple with Hagar.
- Rated "M" for Manly: The David Lee Roth years, with songs such as "Ain't Talkin' 'bout Love".
- Although the DLR-fronted band also gave us some of their campier songs, such as "Big Bad Bill" and "Beautiful Girls".
- Real Life Writes the Plot: The lyrics of "Blood and Fire" sound so much like Dave talking about his return to the band.
Say you missed me
Say it like you mean it.
- Rearrange the Song: Their covers.
- Record Producer: Ted Templeman between 1978-1984, with long-term engineer Donn Landee, and with various others afterwards (the band, Donn Landee and Mick Jones on 5150, the band and Donn Landee on OU812, the band, a returning Templeman and Andy Johns on F.U.C.K., Bruce Fairbairn on Balance, Eddie and Mike Post on Van Halen III, and the band and John Shanks on A Different Kind of Truth).
- Ret-Gone: Around the time Michael Anthony was kicked out, the band shot themselves in the foot by Photoshopping the cover of their first album displayed on their website to replace him with Wolfgang Van Halen.
- Right Now Montage: "Right Now", Trope Namer.
- Rule of Funny: They ran off this while Dave was in the band.
- Shout-Out: The chorus of "Can't Stop Lovin' You" shows that it's based on the similarly titled Ray Charles song. At least, near the end of the song.
And I know what I got to do
Hey, Ray, what you said is true, ooh
I can't stop lovin' you
- Signature Song: "Ain't Talkin' 'bout Love", "Runnin' With the Devil", "Jump", "Panama", "Hot for Teacher".
- Song of Song Titles: "You and Your Blues".
- Stealth Pun: In "Good Enough": "'Cause it's three, six, nine time" i.e.: Time to multiply.
- Subdued Section: "In a Simple Rhyme" and many more others.
- Take That: It is a well-documented legend that the title of OU812 was one at David Lee Roth's debut solo album, Eat 'em and Smile.
- Another spin on the above legend is that there was a kind of "back and forth" between DLR and VH over the course of several albums: DLR's "Crazy From the Heat" - VH's "5150" (police code for the criminally insane) followed by DLR's "Eat 'Em and Smile" - VH's "OU812" (as mentioned above). Then there was VH's "For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge" followed by DLR's "Your Filthy Little Mouth".
- Teacher-Student Romance: "Hot For Teacher", which is even quoted atop the page.
- This Is a Drill: Which Eddie used in the intro of "Poundcake". And it sounds pretty cool.
- Title by Number: 1984 and 5150. Also, Eddie's solo "316" on For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge.
- We Want Our Jerk Back: Many fans' reaction to a sober, more serious Eddie.
- Coincidentally enough, Eddie also made a cameo appearance on Thriller, playing the solo on "Beat It"
- During a Diver Down interview, Dave admitted they could play "six different Kinks songs", and would play them "into the dirt" every night when they were starting out
- "Oh, you ate one too?"
- and also the name of Eddie's personal studio