Sunday, February 19, 2012

CD Review: Van Halen - A Different Kind of Truth

Thanks for checking out my new blog! What better way to get things started than by sharing my review of the new Van Halen CD, A Different Kind of Truth...their first CD since 1998 and their first full CD with David Lee Roth since 1984!

Overall, I’m very surprised this CD is as good as it is.  I should say though that I had very low expectations, especially after hearing their first single, Tattoo.  It’s much heavier than I would have thought (in a good way) and Eddie is playing like he has something to prove.  He sounds great on the song riffs and rhythm.  However, his solos are his same old thing.  I’ll argue that if you’ve heard one EVH solo, you’ve heard them all as he repeats himself a lot.  Nothing new or ground breaking...maybe a few new effects that don’t add much, especially his intro to China Town that sounds like every 15 year old kid at Guitar Center.

DLR’s performance is only so-so for me.  We all know he’s never been a great singer, but I think he’s trying way too hard to show he can sing and to bring back his personality on the band. It works on some songs, but not on others. He breaks into his Barry White, low register voice in a few spots that does nothing but distract from what Eddie is playing.  Overall, he seems to just sing on top of what every Eddie is doing, instead of actually singing with the song. He's having fun though and that does come across.

Alex Van Halen gets a chance to shine on some of the faster, heavier songs, most notably China Town.  It’s good to hear he still has some life in those drums.

Wolfgang Van Halen...I’m not sure if they purposely turned down the bass in the mix, but he doesn’t get heard much on this CD. There's rumors that Eddie played the bass on the CD. Whoever played it, probably the only songs you can hear a strong bass is She’s The Woman and Beats Workin’. 

The biggest thing missing here is Michael Anthony.  This “new” version of Van Halen is NOT a reunion for the simple fact that Michael Anthony is not involved...an incredibly stupid decision on the part of Eddie and company. And on this new CD, it truly comes back to bite them in the ass.  His backing vocals would have added some depth to their sound and helped to reign in DLR from over extending on most of the songs.    

While this CD is better than I expected, there aren’t any instant VH classics here or any that I’m dying to hear them play live. Keep in mind that all of these songs are made by old riffs, most of which are really good on their own.  But, some of the overall songs just don’t work, which is probably why these songs were never completed.  If I had to give it a grade, I’ve probably got to give it a C+...average.  It's definitely worth checking out, but not much staying power.

Highlights:  She’s The Woman, Blood and Fire, Big River, Beats Workin’
Lowlights: Tattoo, China Town, Bullethead, Honeybabysweetiedoll, Stay Frosty (lame attempt to recreate Ice Cream Man)

Well, there you go.  That’s my take. Thanks for reading, but now it’s your turn.  Tell me what you think.  It’s no fun if it’s just me talking.  Feel free to agree or disagree or just say hi!   

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