Friday, 22 April 2011

CD Review: Van Halen II, by Van Halen (1979)


Almost exactly a year after releasing their self-titled debut, Van Halen returned with their second studio album, recorded in a matter of days. Van Halen II cemented the group's status as rising superstars of the accessible hard rock wing of heavy metal, with another set of songs about good times, women, and good times with women.

Sticking close to their strengths, Van Halen II is all about the character of David Lee Roth and the wizardry of Edward Van Halen. Roth infuses every track with his infectious brand of uncontrollable fun-loving energy, and whenever he pauses to draws a breath, Eddie fills the void with his magical brand of clean and catchy guitar work. It's a simple formula perfectly suited to the otherwise intellectually challenged lyrics that rotate endlessly around craving and enjoying the good life.

The front end of the album is slowish, Somebody Get Me A Doctor standing out with an edgier riff and a welcome dose of hardened steel. The back end is stacked with the better material. Light Up The Sky takes off meteor-style and streaks unobstructed through the darkness, riding a confident Alex Van Halen beat, complete with a brief drum solo. D.O.A. turn all the way metal with an Eddie riff that takes no prisoners, Roth sounding deeper and finally just a bit more serious. And Beautiful Girls ends the album with the perfect Van Halen track, celebrating what the band is all about on the back of a clever harmony and a contagious spirit that demands to be joined, but only with a smile and a kiss.

Outta Love Again and Women In Love... provide additional depth to the song list, and for guitar affectionados, Eddie throws in an acoustic version of Eruption under the title of Spanish Fly.

Van Halen II succeeds in being a sophomore effort that consolidates the success of the debut. It may not represent any sort of serious progression, but when you are busy having endless fun and dominating the world, evolving is low on the priority list.


Band:

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


Songlist (ratings out of 10):

1. You're No Good - 7
2. Dance The Night Away - 7
3. Somebody Get Me A Doctor - 9
4. Bottoms Up! - 7
5. Outta Love Again - 8
6. Light Up The Sky - 9
7. Spanish Fly - 7
8. D.O.A. - 10 *see below*
9. Women In Love... - 8
10. Beautiful Girls - 10

Average: 8.20

Produced by Ted Templeman.
Engineered by Donn Landee.

All Ace Black Blog Heavy Metal CD Reviews are here.





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