Van Halen

Warner Brothers Records, 1983


REVIEW BY: Jeff Clutterbuck


I was born in 1985, a year after this album was released. It's been 18 long years, but now I finally know what I missed.

I'm embarrassed to admit 1984 is my one and only Van Halen album. It wasn't until recently I was able to appreciate how talented Eddie Van Halen was/is. So when faced with the decision of what Van Halen album I should buy, I made the logical choice. 1984 was the album that sent Van Halen into the stratosphere. The band had hit big with their debut, but this disc was their Back in Black, or their Dark Side of the Moon. It would eventually sell in excess of 10 million copies, and would give the band their first number one single "Jump."

What made 1984 so incredibly popular? There are various reasons as to why, but to me there is one reason that surpasses the others. Eddie Van Halen's ability to write hooks and riffs is almost unparalleled. Every single song on this disc, with the exception of the title track, has something anyone can grab onto. On "Jump" it might be the synthesizers. It could be the outstanding percussion opening on "Hot for Teacher." Again, with the exception of the title track, there is not a dull moment on the album.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Few records capture the stage energy of a band. 1984 is one those few. The band is hitting on all cylinders here. The normally average rhythm section turns in some great performances. "Diamond" David Lee Roth wails away, exuding charisma. However, it is the guitar work of Eddie Van Halen that makes this album what it is. Simply put, Eddie Van Halen is one of the top five guitarists of all time. His ability to play with blistering speed yet keep the melody is something very few guitarists have had the capacity to carry out. Just listen to the solo on "Hot for Teacher," and try picturing how fast the man's fingers must be going. It's mind-boggling.

Let's face it, no one listens to Van Halen for the lyrics. While the songs aren't bad, none of them are "In My Life" either. However, that doesn't matter. The lyrics are second in terms of importance to the band. They simply serve for the purpose of filling parts of the songs. In fact, songs like " Track 07" I believe would be more compelling without words. I don't mean to take away from Roth, whose magnetic personality was one the keys to the band's popularity. However, as a vocalist he is average, and like the lyrics, is just there to fill in the holes. Luckily for the band, he had tremendous commercial appeal.

It was Eddie Van Halen who came to rest of the band with the idea to use synthesizers for 1984. The result was worth it. The synths flesh out the songs, without ruining the Van Halen sound. They give more substance to the tracks. "Jump's" synth intro is one of the most famous intros in rock history. Van Halen certainly proved he could do more that just play guitar. Some of his synthesizer arrangements are just as memorable as his guitar riffs.

Listening to 1984 is really a pleasure. This is rock album, nothing more. It doesn't discuss society, it's just a fun album. The band sounds like they are enjoying every minute of it; I suggest you do the same.

Rating: A

User Rating: A



© 2004 Jeff Clutterbuck and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Warner Brothers Records, and is used for informational purposes only.