Tag Archives: David Lee Roth

Van Halen? European Tour? Huh?


Van Halen – live in Europe before your naked, steaming eyes and ears?

In news which clearly indicates the imminent arrival of quite cross, scythe-wielding, be-cloaked dudes on horseback, band front man and mile-a-minute gabber David Lee Roth has told US radio jocks Opie & Anthony that legendary rockers Van Halen intend to tour outside the US this year.

I’ll believe it when I see it.  It’s long been my contention that Eddie Van Halen lost his passport down the back of his sofa sometime in the nineties and couldn’t be bothered to get a new one – it’s a jovial notion vastly preferable to the idea that VH just don’t think that the rest of the world give a monkey’s for their music and that they’ll lose money on any global jaunt.

Festivals, Ed!  Festivals!

Leave a comment

Filed under Music

Things I Watched This Week: “Jason Becker: Not Dead Yet”


As an aspiring guitarist and metal head in the mid 1980’s, it was difficult to escape the influence and artists of Mike Varney‘s Shrapnel record label.

From Paul Gilbert and Racer X to Tony MacAlpine and the first stirrings of neoclassical fret fury from Yngwie Malmsteen, Shrapnel had what you needed if you loved noisy, 300 mph speed metal and had no fear of men in skin-tight, animal print spandex.

One of the major leading lights of that movement was Jason Becker, who first came to prominence in the duo Cacophony with fellow corkscrew-curled fretboard mangler Marty Friedman (who would later go on to a gig in Megadeth and improbable late career J-Rock fame in Japan).

Becker is the subject of a superb documentary “Not Dead Yet”, which I saw at the weekend on the UK’s PBS America channel and can heartily recommend to any fan of inspiring stories, nostalgic metal fans and people who like good stuff.

So, most of you, then?

See, Becker’s rapid ascent through the metal guitar ranks was cruelly interrupted by illness just as he had scored a prestige gig as lead shredder in David Lee Roth‘s band – as he recorded the album, Becker was diagnosed with ALS, the affliction more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease and his once promising musical career was abruptly curtailed.

How Becker now communicates with those closest to him - a communication grid developed by his Dad

How Becker now communicates with those closest to him – a communication grid developed by his Dad

The film tells Becker’s story carefully, being certain to emphasise the importance of his family background and how their support for his musical gift helped him achieve success before the tragic onset of illness seemed to rob him of the successful musical future which seemed his for the taking.  It’s that family and his network of friends which are the revelation of the film – nobody walked away from him once his ALS diagnosis was confirmed and it’s perhaps only due to the family’s determination to support Becker through his ongoing illness that we have this story to watch.

Though now in a wheelchair, tube-fed and on permanent life support, through a vital network of friends and technology Becker still composes music and is a regular guest at gigs in his honour, where the likes of Friedman, Joe Satriani, Richie Kotzen and other luminaries of the whammy bar assisted arts rock out in a celebration of music and its ability to communicate even through the most seemingly insurmountable barriers that the human body can present.

Jesse Vile’s documentary is a film that can’t help but inspire you – the problems which many of us face don’t really stack up to much when you see what kind of obstacles Becker and his family have faced in their efforts to beat the odds and circumvent the three-to-four year life expectancy which Jason was calculated to have when first diagnosed.  By the time that the film ends, it’s not really a spoiler to tell you that the musician is 42 years old and…well, the title tells you everything.

See it – it’s a fantastic piece of work.


Leave a comment

Filed under Films, Music

Van Halen – “A Different Kind of Truth” album review


Van Halen’s much-ballyhooed ‘reunion’ album with three-quarters of the classic line-up is proof that you CAN go home again.

I was initially sceptical that giving vintage 1970’s material a buff and polish was a great idea, but the resultant album unequivocally establishes such misgivings are unfounded – this is the best Van Halen record since “OU812” and a joy to listen to. It’s a pleasure to be as wrong as I was about this Van Halen line-up as they’ve only gone and kicked my ass completely.

There’s stuff here – “Blood and Fire”, “Big River”“Chinatown”, “She’s The Woman”, “Stay Frosty” – which stacks up to the best Van Halen material from the late ’70s and early ’80s, both in musical attack and David Lee Roth‘s ‘1,000 aphorisms a minute’ lyrical style.  The wit and sass duke it out with Ed’s crunching riffs, reckless abandon soloing and the pretty damn tight Wolfgang and Alex rhythm section, somehow conspiring to present a record which sounds utterly classic, absolutely contemporary and as though the 1984 line-up were cryogenically flash-frozen and dumped out into the modern-day to rock faces anew.

This record recalls the  Van Halen of “Van Halen II”, Women & Children First and “Mean Streets” with a contemporary, glistening production sheen and every bit of musical moxie intact and somehow enhanced for a modern audience.


Eddie and Wolfgang – Van Halen & Son, staying frosty and defying the haters. Picture via Esquire.com

Coming back to that latter point, I won’t say that I don’t miss Michael Anthony in the band, but it must be said that Wolfgang more than makes his case to be apart of the new line-up.  The backing vocals are very much up to snuff and the new fellow’s bass playing is tight and unfussy, finding the odd moment to add flair in concert with his uncle’s typically impeccable, thunderous double bass attack.  The rhythm section, always a key element of Van Halen’s sound, is absolutely present and correct and the envy of any of their peers.

Recent events have suggested to the weary Van Halen fan that you should never expect them to keep things on track for too long but it would be a shame to see this line-up go the way of previous iterations, particularly as the middle-aged romantic typing these words would love the entertain the oft-absurd notion that they could drag their asses over to Europe again and let us see this line-up knock one out of the proverbial park (or mid-sized arena).

So, the short version.  Great songs, Eddie’s solos and riffs will melt your face, the rhythm section’s a monster and Dave’s voice is a singular thing of high-pitched, camp, bar room bard beauty.  It’s not the album that I expected – it’s something far, far better.

If you’ve been holding off on picking it up, as I was, buy it with confidence – it’s proof that musical reunions can work out for the best.  Where the band goes from here is anybody’s guess, but I hope that they summon up the mojo to keep going and make more records of this calibre.

1 Comment

Filed under Music

Van Halen live footage – leave your jaw on the floor

Van freaking wailing Halen, man!

So, I’m still dancing around getting “A Different Kind of Truth”, the first Van Halen album from most of the classic line-up (no offence, Wolfgang) in 28 years.  Not sure about “Tattoo”, but I do like “She’s The Woman”.  A bit on the fence about all the old-new songs but I’m probably going to pick up the CD sooner rather than later – Van Halen fans tend to be a bit like that, I guess. Any Ed solo is better than no Ed solo, you know?

With that in mind, why not check out a brace of tunes from VH’s open rehearsal at the Forum in Los Angeles the other night (sometimes, I really love You Tube and the internet so much that I almost – not fully  – want to marry it).

Dave might not move quite as well as he used to, but Ed’s on fricking fire – it’s a joy to behold.

Leave a comment

Filed under Geekery, Random Notes

Van Halen goes to “Chinatown”

Where have all the good times gone?

Should we be worried about the ‘new’ Van Halen record, “A Different Kind of Truth”?  I’m speaking mostly to the VH fans, here, I realise, but normal, non-Eddie, Alex, Dave and Wolfgang obsessives can join in, too – just click on the link above and listen to “Tattoo”.  Join us back here when you’re done.

A band reforming is one issue – Will they still be any good?  Will they all get along?  A band reforming and then taking a bunch of old songs, fragments and demo tunes and reworking them into their new album is quite another and that’s what the advanced scuttlebutt is telling us about “A Different Kind of Truth” – that many of the songs actually date back to Van Halen’s inception during the 1970’s.

I’m all for artists being prolific, but I’m not sure that being prolific is the same as raiding the off-cuts, never-were and ideas that you were never quite able to whip into shape.  Is that really any way to announce that you’re back – by releasing a record largely composed of stuff that your hardcore fan base will be aware of via the tape-trading circuit from back in the day?

I suppose I should just be happy that Van Halen are back again, but I’m holding my judgement until I hear the record.  On that note, Blabbermouth have posted the latest snippet from “A Different Kind of Truth”a song called “Chinatown”, which dates from back in the day but is a little more convincing than “Tattoo” was.  The comments section has it pegged as being melodically in the same territory as VH classic rocker “Hang ‘Em High”, which seems like a fair enough assessment.

It’s only fair to warn you that the vintage 1982 video linked to above contains leopard-print dungarees.  Viewer discretion is advised…


Leave a comment

Filed under Geekery, Random Notes

Van Halen’s new “Tattoo”…

So, the flurry of ‘will they, won’t they?’ activity at the end of 2011 it appears that Van Halen are actually, definitely really going out once again to rock the collective faces off the faithful.

The new single, “Tattoo” is out as you read these words and is – you’ll be stunned to learn – a fricking classic Van Halen rocker.

No reinventing the wheel here, but would anybody really want them to?  Nope, but some European shows might be nice, Eddie…

Leave a comment

Filed under Random Notes

Hell freezes over – Van Halen to release album and tour in 2012.

Twiddly, with a hint of widdly.

Barring last-minute splits, spontaneous combustion or a rift in the space-time continuum, the unlikely has happened – not only have Van Halen announced a 2012 tour but an album is due, too (the first not on the Warner Brothers label since their 1978 debut).

I’m not sure how to feel about this – when long-time bassist Michael Anthony left and was replaced by Eddie’s son Wolfgang, I couldn’t help but feel that a large part of the sound of the band went with him.  He wasn’t just a bassist but an instantly recognizable backing vocalist and the loss to their sound is an appreciable one.  I know that there are ways around that kind of thing in these heady technological days (backing tracks are wonderful things) but when the guy who’s been there since the Seventies isn’t there – well, it just gives me pause, to be honest.

Blabbermouth has more – including a video trailer which suggests that US tickets will be on sale from January 10.  Whether that means that shows in the rest of the world will follow is anybody’s guess (mine is – the alternate future of “Back to the Future 2” is likely to arrive before the Van Halen family and Diamond Dave show up in the UK).


Leave a comment

Filed under Random Notes

New Steel Panther tune – still rocking, hopefully still taking the pish…

Sheer ironic brilliance or crass, spandex-clad buffoons?

Where is the line between ironic commentary on sexist attitudes and wink-wink tacit endorsement of said unreconstructed chauvinism? Not sure – can you mock boorishness by being boorish or does any usage of this line of argument, this ‘fighting fire with fire’ attitude, however well-intentioned, inevitably end up endorsing attitudes instead of challenging them?

Yep, there’s a new Steel Panther song online. I’m stuck between admiring the pitch-perfect homage to Eighties Hair Metal and being slightly troubled by the absurdly sexist lyrics. Lyrics which, it must be said, are underpinned by an undeniable wit and sense of parody – and spend just enough time poking fun at the absurd shortcomings of the male ego to perhaps balance the uber-male tomfoolery going on in the songs for the rest of the time.

I have to admit that I’m loving this song, but I wonder just how many people (and by people, I mean to say young male metalheads) hear this stuff and don’t get the parodic subtext or the referentiality inherent in the band’s mock-biography (though nowhere near old enough to have been part of the LA scene at the time, the band’s biog claims that their musical career began in 1988).

I spend enough time on my blog hoping that people see beyond the surface of things and get to grips with ideas which might lurk under the surface of pop culture, so you might hope that I can extend a band like Steel Panther the benefit of the doubt when it comes to their intentions.

You never had to worry this much with David Lee Roth…

Leave a comment

Filed under Random Notes