Saturday, 30 April 2011

CD Review: 1984, by Van Halen (1984)


The final Van Halen album with the original line-up, 1984 signs off the band's first phase on a high. Although the pop-happy synthesizer-saturated hit single Jump is testimony to the blandness of broad public and radio taste, there is plenty of other material on 1984 to satisfy more sophisticated listeners.

There is no doubt that the band sounds so much better when Eddie Van Halen abandons his keyboard pretensions and just plays the guitar. All the better tracks on 1984 combine Van Halen's love of fun with some scorching guitar work from Eddie. Panama is undeniably infectious, with Roth's vocals in fine form accompanying Eddie's powerful riffing and solo work. Drop Dead Legs drops the pace with devastating impact, demonstrating that enormous power can be generated from slow moving machinery.

Hot For Teacher, I'll Wait and Girl Gone Bad are three more solid tracks that add substantial weight to the back end of the album. Hot For Teacher and Girl Gone Bad are purely guitar-focused, while I'll Wait is a better synthesizer-based effort.

The album closes with the grease-stained House Of Pain, pulled from the band's older archives and demo tapes, and notable for an ending instrumental segment that is all molten metal.

1984 happily has no throwaway, filler-level tracks, but again clocks in at only just over 30 minutes, Van Halen continuing their tendency to deliver a relatively small amount of music per album.

The tension between Roth and Eddie finally ruptured the band, and Roth headed out to a solo career while Van Halen joined forces with Sammy Hagar for the second phase of their career. The legacy of the original line-up is a mixture of the brilliant and the easily dismissed, but at least the final chapter was a fairly resounding success.

Band:

David Lee Roth - Vocals
Edward Van Halen - Guitars
Michael Anthony - Bass
Alex Van Halen - Drums


Songlist (ratings out of 10):

1. 1984 - n/a (short instrumental)
2. Jump - 7
3. Panama - 9
4. Top Jimmy - 7
5. Drop Dead Legs - 9
6. Hot For Teacher - 8
7. I'll Wait - 8
8. Girl Gone Bad - 8
9. House Of Pain - 9 *see below*

Average: 8.13

Produced by Ted Templeman.
Engineered by Donn Landee.

All Ace Black Blog Heavy Metal CD Reviews are here.





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